Since 1985 the crown jewel of the MLB All Star event has been the Home Run Derby. Some of the leagues best and brightest have shone and shown what they can do with the long ball. The past several years the derby has been a head to head bracket leading to a final matchup. In the hours leading up to the big event, let’s take a look at the matchups for the eight contestants hoping to make their derby dreams come true.
#1 Seed Jesús Aguilar
The number one seed naturally has more homers than anyone else in the derby with 24 this season which is good for second most in the majors. The Brewers first baseman also clinched his first all star game nod when he won the final vote. With an average HR distance of 394 look for Aguilar to hit plenty of shallow blasts.
#8 Seed Rhys Hoskins
Drafted in the 5th round in 2015 this is Hoskins first full season in the majors. Since being called up for good in August of last year Hoskins has hit 32 homers, 14 of which came this year.
#2 Seed Bryce Harper
Harper is the only participant with previous derby experience, having come in second place to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013. Harper has an advantage in that the derby will be in Nationals Park where he plays his home games. He might not need an advantage though as he has belted 23 long balls already this season and boasts the longest average home run of any other contestant at 409 feet. I predict that Harper will make a run to the finals in front of his hometown fans.
#7 Seed Freddie Freeman
Freeman wasted no time in texting his first round matchup Bryce Harper to talk some trash. “I might have sent a text to him earlier to start the trash talking. It should be fun. I’m hoping the fans are too excited for him and he gets nervous and hits zero.” Freeman has hit 16 homers so far this season, and he’s going to need every bit of that to walk out of the first round.
#4 Seed Alex Bregman
Alex Bregman has been on fire at the right time to be in the Home Run Derby hitting 7 homers in the last 12 games. His 20 long balls on the season have set a career high for the young Astro. If he can keep his hot streak going past Kyle Schwarber, he has a good chance of making the finals.
#5 Seed Kyle Schwarber
Two seasons removed from an ACL surgery Schwarber came into this season in the best shape of his professional career. All that work in the offseason has paid off with 18 homers and an average home run length of 401 feet. Schwarber knows all about stepping up in pressure situations, coming back after tearing his ACL in 2016 to be a pivotal cog in the Cubs World Series Championship. I give him good odds in this matchup.
#3 Seed Max Muncy
This has been a breakout year for Muncy, who spent all last year in the minor leagues. He’s smacked 22 long ones this year which demolished his career high of 3. In fact, Muncy has hit 27 big league home runs over three seasons of limited action. Muncy has potential in the derby with the third highest home run total and tied for the lead amongst competitors for average exit velocity.
#6 Seed Javier Baez
Javier Baez might be the most exciting player to watch in the derby with a very aggressive swing that often pays off. He’s hit 19 bombs this year and is tied for the lead in exit velocity with Muncy. He’s been making good contact all year, so if he can keep his swing dialed in he can make a lot of noise in the derby.
My prediction: Bryce Harper takes on Alex Bregman in the finals and doesn’t disappoint the hometown fans.
Coverage of the 2018 Home Run Derby starts at 8 pm eastern and can be found on ESPN and the ESPN App