With only minutes to go before homeruns begin to bombard Angel Stadium in Anaheim; fan attention is being drawn to who will be the Home Run Derby King of 2010. Vernon Wells, David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Matt Holliday, Hanley Ramirez, Corey Hart, and Chris Young are all vying for the title.
Toronto is pleased with their representative, Vernon Wells, 32, who has bounced back since signing his massive contract. Wells has already hit 19 homers, 4 greater than his previous season. Wells has helped charge a Toronto team that currently leads the MLB in round-trippers. Wells’s swing is certainly not the most powerful swing in the game however it is extremely consistent and can put a charge into any ball. He may not impress spectators with the distance of his home runs however he will post a decent amount—most of them just clearing the left field fence.
David Ortiz, 34, is no stranger to the Derby competing 3 times prior. Ortiz is experiencing moderate success this year totalling 18 dingers. Though not successful in his previous 3 trips, Ortiz’s experience is for sure to aid him. Ortiz has quick hands through the zone, which are not needed to hit a 50mph pitching coach offering, however his tremendous bat speed will send balls hissing over the fence. His one enemy would be hitting the ball too square and driving line drives instead of towering pop flies, a technique which usually produces the largest number of big flies.
Miguel Cabrera, 27, for the Detroit Tigers is the clear cut favourite. Not only does he lead all the contestants with 22 dingers, he features one of the most beautiful power swings in the game. On command, the native of Venezuela can smack a ball 400 plus feet, and go above and beyond hitting balls toward the moon reaching 500 ft. Cabreara took part in the 2006 Derby where he placed third with 15, finishing behind David Wright and Ryan Howard.
Nick Swisher, 29, representing the Yankees is an underdog who could do a lot of damage. Entering the Derby with 15 homeruns, Swisher’s swing naturally puts a lot of loft on the ball, which is a valuable tool for this contest. Look for Swisher to at least pass the first round.
Matt Holiday, 30, is coming in with 16 dingers. The Cardinals three-spot hitter has had tremendous success this season, though that success may not transit into the Derby. Although big and strong, Holliday is another strong line-drive hitter. If he wants to have any success, he will have to alter his swing a tad, putting more of an upper cut into it.
Hanley Ramirez, 27, has the least homeruns out of all the competitors with a mere 13. Although, that number is more impressive than it appears because he is a middle infielder. Ramirez’s swing is smooth and compact, which may do damage but he’ll have to be pin-point with where he places the ball in the field because he does not have extraordinary power.
Corey Hart, 28, is second among with 21 homeruns going into the contest. Hart’s quick, upper cut swing is tailor made for the Derby. The question is will the nerves of competing in his first derby get to him? If he remains calm and collected Hart will be able to launch balls out with relative ease, possibly threatening to take the crown.
Chris Young, 27, has 15 round-trippers this season. Young does have an upper-cut to his swing however he tends to put a lot of top spin on the ball. Meaning he hits the top of the ball, sending balls screaming all-over the field which end up bouncing pre-maturely because of their spin. This said, he won’t have to deal with 90mph fast balls so he may be able to locate his bat slightly more under the ball. If he does this, success for Young is inevitable.
Cabrera is the favourite this year but there is no guarantee he will win. Every other hitter in the contest is more than capable of putting a sufficient amount of balls over the wall. It really is a matter of who will find their stroke first.
About the Author
Written by Charlie Crabb
Charlie Crabb is currently studying journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Crabb is also a pitcher for an elite baseball travel team known as the Ottawa Knights, who play -with success- in tournaments all over North America. His current goals are to graduate and play ball at a professional level.