Albert Pujols, Todd Frazier headline 2015 Home Run Derby

Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels watches as his hit goes over the fence resulting in a home run against the Houston Astros in June.
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

By Ian Casselberry

The Home Run Derby is one of the showcase events during the week of the MLB All-Star Game. For some fans, the Derby might be more fun than the game itself. Fans dig the longball, right?

The event looked in danger of being diminished with Giancarlo Stanton suffering a broken hand and Bryce Harper opting out of participating because his batting practice pitcher of choice, his father, is recovering from rotator cuff surgery. And there’s always the possibility of other stars passing on the Derby, either wanting the opportunity to rest or worrying that swinging for all those home runs will mess up their mechanics when the regular season resumes.

But MLB has benefited from a significant infusion of young talent over the past couple of seasons, and that’s reflected in the 2015 Home Run Derby field. Budding superstars eager to introduce themselves to a national audience are hungry to participate, as demonstrated by the players who will be in the event, as reported by the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin:

HR Derby, per ESPN: Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson, Prince Fielder, Todd Frazier, Manny Machado, Joc Pederson, Albert Pujols, Anthony Rizzo.

So how do the contestants stack up?

Bryant: 12 home runs, but hit 43 in the minors last season and is viewed as a significant slugger in the making.
Donaldson: 21 homers, currently ranked fourth in the AL. An early league MVP candidate.
Fielder: 13 homers. His power has diminished, but has hit 30 or more home runs six times, including 50 in 2007 and 46 in 2009.
Frazier: 25 home runs, currently tied for third in MLB. The hometown favorite.
Machado: 18 homers, tied for seventh in the AL. Another young star for one of MLB’s spotlight events.
Pederson: 20 home runs, tied for fourth in the NL. He’s having an outstanding rookie season, after slugging 33 homers last year in Triple-A.
Pujols: 26 homers, leading the AL and one off the MLB lead. The old veteran, ready to show the youngsters something.
Rizzo: 16 home runs, tied for fifth in the NL. One of baseball’s best young power hitters. Two Cubs in the Home Run Derby!

Besides establishing their slugging bona fides, we mention the participants’ home run totals because they determine seeding in the Home Run Derby’s new format. So the new bracket-style Derby with five-minute rounds lines up with Pujols-Bryant, Frazier-Fielder, Donaldson-Rizzo, Pederson-Machado. Conveniently, each of those matchups also present an AL hitter versus NL competition. That can’t be purely a coincidence, right?

 

More from The Outside Corner: