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2014 Home Run Derby: Analyzing the hitters by HRD

Rob Foldy

How impressive have the home runs hit by 2014 home run derby participants been? Are there players who might have been better choices?

Introduction

When I think of home runs, I’m not as interested in the amount as I am in how impressive they are. So, in a home run derby, I want balls leaving the yard in a hurried and extreme fashion. If only there was a stat we could use to analyze the participants and find some worthy home run derby participants.

I will look at the current participants under the lens of total home runs and Home Run Damage (HRD) per HR. (Read more about HRD here. It is basically speed plus distance.) This is a great way to show those players who really crush the ball when they get a hold of it. As always, Wily Mo Pena is the poster child for this. Nearly all of his home runs were bombs, and I personally believe MLB should bend the rules and allow him to participate in the home run derby every year.

When I speak of HRD/HR rank, a player had to have at least 20 HRs in 2012-2014 and seven in 2014 before July 6th to count.

2014 Home Run Derby Participants

American League

2012-2014 2014 Only
Player HRs (Rank) HRD/HR (Rank) Career Best HRs (Rank) HRD/HR (Rank) Best
Jose Bautista 72 (11) 0.77 (21) 9/10/2011 - 5.35 HRD 17 (12) 0.85 (23) 7/1/2014 - 4.04 HRD
Yoenis Cespedes 63 (24) 0.41 (56) 7/21/2012 - 5.08 HRD 14 (25) -1.14 (121) 6/16/2014 - 2.44 HRD
Josh Donaldson 52 (48) 0.22 (78) 4/24/2014 - 3.41 HRD 19 (7) 0.44 (41) 4/24/2014 - 3.41 HRD
Brian Dozier 40 (94) -1.27 (220) 4/22/2014 - 1.98 HRD 16 (18) -1.36 (124) 4/22/2014 - 1.98 HRD
Adam Jones 79 (6) 0.58 (36) 5/25/2013 - 5.65 HRD 14 (25) 0.50 (36) 5/7/2014 - 2.53 HRD

 

Jose Bautista – Much like everyone else in the free world, Joey Bats follows me on Twitter. He can follow me to the home run derby as well because he can hit the ball a long way.

Yoenis Cespedes – Last year’s champion, and one of only two players that were picked for the real home run derby last year that I kept on my team. But his damage numbers are down quite a bit this time around, so I won’t be picking him.

Josh Donaldson – Not really a raw power guy. He has a bunch of blasts this year, but most are very uninspiring.

Brian Dozier – An odd pick. He is hitting a lot of home runs, but many of them are extremely weak. I don’t want to see a bunch of fly balls, I want to see bombs. He has no chance of making my team.

Adam Jones – He has good raw power as is evident by his longest home run, but it isn’t consistent enough for me to be interested.

National League 

2012-2014 2014 Only
Player HRs (Rank) HRD/HR (Rank) Career Best HRs (Rank) HRD/HR (Rank) Best
Troy Tulowitzki 51 (51) 0.15 (87) 6/21/2007 - 4.34 HRD 18 (11) -0.09 (84) 6/3/2014 - 3.08 HRD
Giancarlo Stanton 82 (5) 1.73 (1) 4/4/2014 - 6.95 HRD 21 (4) 2.51 (1) 4/4/2014 - 6.95 HRD
Yasiel Puig 31 (142) 0.80 (19) 5/3/2014 - 4.11 HRD 12 (44) 1.27 (13) 5/3/2014 - 4.11 HRD
Justin Morneau 49 (57) -0.07 (119) 7/26/2006 - 4.29 HRD 13 (33) -0.25 (91) 5/10/2014 - 2.57 HRD
Todd Frazier 54 (44) 0.09 (93) 4/25/2013 - 5.67 HRD 17 (12) 0.24 (52) 4/3/2014 - 4.25 HRD

 

Troy Tulowitzki – Like last year with Robinson Cano, the home run derby captain is not necessarily a high power guy. Certainly Tulo hits a lot of home runs for a shortstop, but he’s not a big thumper.

Giancarlo Stanton – Yes.

Yasiel Puig – If this were the bat flip derby, Puig would obviously be invited. He consistently hits long bombs but he doesn’t have enough history of some others in the National League. He just sneaks in thanks to the right-handed hitter requirement and he will definitely put on a show.

Justin Morneau – A guy with impressive batting practice power that doesn’t necessarily translate into games. He might be interesting to watch for that reason, but I’ll leave him off of my list.

Todd Frazier – Like Jones, he definitely has great raw power. However, like Jones, it isn’t consistent enough to get an invite.

Who I would rather see

Since non all-stars can be chosen for the derby, I am not limited to who I can choose. However, I will follow the rules where currently injured players do not come. Also, since Target Field is so detrimental to left-handed power, I will only pick right-handed hitters.

I focused on home run damage, but also wanted guys who can hit it out often enough. I also looked at the few previous seasons with a focus on this year.

Batting practice power may be a different way to look at this, but since I don't have any of that kind of data, game power will have to suffice.

American League

2012-2014 2014 Only
Player HRs (Rank) HRD/HR (Rank) Career Best HRs (Rank) HRD/HR (Rank) Best
Mike Trout 77 (8) 1.16 (5) 6/27/2014 - 5.58 HRD 20 (6) 1.3 (12) 6/27/2014 - 5.58 HRD
Edwin Encarnacion (Inj) 104 (1) 1.1 (7) 9/1/2012 - 6.71 HRD 26 (2) 1.54 (4) 5/8/2014 - 4.43 HRD
Adam Dunn (L) 87 (4) 1.05 (8) 9/27/2008 -7.92 HRD 12 (44) 1.07 (17) 5/16/2014 - 4.31 HRD
Jose Bautista 72 (11) 0.77 (21) 9/10/2011 - 5.35 HRD 17 (12) 0.85 (23) 7/1/2014 - 4.04 HRD
David Ortiz (L) 72 (11) 0.74 (23) 4/22/2014 - 7.16 HRD 19 (7) 0.88 (22) 4/22/2014 - 7.16 HRD
Adrian Beltre 74 (10) 0.15 (84) 9/27/2011 - 3.99 HRD 8 (87) 0.88 (20) 7/4/14 - 3.51 HRD
George Springer 17 (243) 0.69 (N/A) 6/24/2014 - 5.09 HRD 17 (12) 0.69 (25) 6/24/2014 - 5.09 HRD
Nelson Cruz 77 (8) 0.86 (15) 6/3/2012 - 5.98 HRD 26 (2) 0.31 (50) 4/23/2014 - 4.72 HRD

Mike Trout – I know he rejected the invite this year, but in my fantasy world, Trout can’t reject me on anything. Simon says hit home runs. Simon says steal third. Steal home.

Edwin Encarnacion – Encarnacion and his pet parrot would be fun to watch. Too bad he injured his hamstring (Encarnacion, not his imaginary parrot.)

Adam Dunn – Donkey Kong still has some quarters left in the machine to keep blasting off. He’s a lefty, so he won’t make the cut, but he’s still barreling the ball.


David Ortiz – Thankfully the players don’t have to run around the bases every time they hit a home run in the derby. If that were the case, Ortiz would never finish his round. He’s out because he’s a lefty, but I would sure like to see how far he could hit it.

Adrian Beltre – He would definitely win most home runs hit from his knees. In lieu of him, I wouldn’t disagree with George Springer, but Beltre’s previous performance gets him in this year.

George Springer – With Dunn out, Springer is my next choice. Like Puig, he does not have a huge history in the major leagues of hitting home runs, but he already has grown man power.

Nelson Cruz – Cruz takes Ortiz’s place. He took second in the 2009 derby and I would like to see what he can do this year.

National League 

2012-2014 2014 Only
Player HRs (Rank) HRD/HR (Rank) Career Best HRs (Rank) HRD/HR (Rank) Best
Giancarlo Stanton 82 (5) 1.73 (1) 4/4/2014 - 6.95 HRD 21 (4) 2.51 (1) 4/4/2014 - 6.95 HRD
Justin Upton 60 (28) 1.41 (2) 4/12/2011 - 6.07 HRD 17 (12) 1.13 (16) 4/10/2014 - 5.84 HRD
Mark Trumbo (Inj) 72 (11) 1.36 (3) 4/29/2013 - 7.17 HRD 7 (107) 1.01 (18) 4/13/2014 - 4.04 HRD
Hanley Ramirez (Inj) 55 (41) 1.11 (6) 7/4/2008 - 7.16 HRD 11 (53) 1.67 (2) 6/8/2014 - 5.89 HRD
Carlos Gonzalez (Inj) 56 (38) 1.04 (9) 6/9/2012 - 4.43 HRD 8 (87) 1.49 (5) 5/1/2014 - 2.87 HRD
Ian Desmond (Inj) 60 (28) 1.03 (10) 4/21/2014 - 4.73 HRD 15 (20) 1.49 (6) 4/21/2014 - 4.73 HRD
Pedro Alvarez (L) 78 (7) 1.02 (11) 5/17/2013 - 5.04 HRD 13 (33) 1.56 (3) 4/4/2014 - 4.35 HRD
Juan Francisco (L) 40 (94) 0.91 (13) 9/12/2011 - 6.41 HRD 13 (33) 1.33 (11) 4/26/2014 - 4.84 HRD
Hunter Pence 62 (25) 0.82 (17) 5/21/2014 - 5.42 HRD 11 (53) 1.45 (7) 5/21/2014 - 5.42 HRD
Yasiel Puig 31 (142) 0.80 (19) 5/3/2014 - 4.11 HRD 12 (44) 1.27 (13) 5/3/2014 - 4.11 HRD
Carlos Gomez 56 (38) 0.71 (26) 7/26/2013 - 4.42 HRD 13 (33) 1.22 (14) 5/10/2014 - 3.75 HRD

 

Giancarlo Stanton – Yes please.

Justin Upton – Upton is a perennial purveyor of prodigious pokes. He was hurt last year, but not this time. Bring it on.

Mark Trumbo – I was so excited when Trumbo got traded to the Diamondbacks. 81 games at Chase, plus another 13 in Coors? Yes please! Stupid injury ruined everything. He’s back now, but not for long enough to get the invite.

Hanley Ramirez – Ramirez is a middle infielder with serious pop for any position on the diamond. His shoulder issue keeps him out this year.

Carlos Gonzalez – I picked him for the team last year and he was injured. Samesies.

Ian Desmond – I don’t follow the Nationals very much, so this is a surprising pick for me. But over the past three years, Desmond has put up very consistently above average home runs.

Pedro Alvarez – Another hitter that get knocked out by being left-handed.

Juan Francisco – A second backup choice that gets rejected by being left-handed.

Hunter Pence – Captain Underpants, as Pence is known in the more high-society areas of Arlington where he went to high school, is a batting practice king. He also has consistently good power in games. And everything he does is weird.

Yasiel Puig – Puig Destroyer is not just the name of a band that makes loud and fast songs about baseball. He can absolutely demolish a stitched spherical orb.

Carlos Gomez – Gomez squeaks in thanks only to the righty requirement. He has actually been campaigning to get into the derby. Well Carlos, hoy es tu día de suerte (today is your lucky day)!

Conclusion

So what do you think? Would you rather see my hitters or the real ones? Who would you like to see participate in a home run derby? Who do you think will win tonight?

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