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Handicapping The Home Run Derby With Fantasy Baseball

The Home Run Derby is one of my favorite events in Major League Baseball. I don’t care how ridiculous it seems to most purists, or how much it can potentially wreck a hitter’s swing, I LOVE HOME RUNS.

Click the link at the end to check out our prediction for the winner of the 2011 Home Run Derby.

I will miss seeing all or nothing mashers like 2007 champ Vladimir Guerrero or 2006 champ Ryan Howard. While I’m by no means a Yankees fan, I think it’s ridiculous that there are no Yankees (or Mets, for that matter) in this year’s Derby.

When it comes to setting my weekly lineups for fantasy baseball, I put a lot of weight on a player’s performance over the last 30 days, plus the last 7 days. Will BatBoy BeeZee be able to predict the winner of the 2008 MLB Home Run Derby using the same logic?

The four Home Run Derby participants that won’t make the second round of the Home Run Derby:

  • Lance Berkman, Houston Astros. The Astros first baseman and top overall player in fantasy baseball hit 21 total homeruns in the 2004 contest in his home park, but only four in two other trips to the Derby. He has hit only three home runs in the last month, and we don’t think he has a legitimate shot to win the contest.
  • Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays. Rookies never win the Derby, so that rules out Longoria. On top of that, he has only hit one home run in the last week.
  • Dan Uggla, Florida Marlins. Uggla has only hit four homeruns in the last month, and none in the last week. That is evidence enough to suggest he won’t win the Derby.
  • Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies. As much as I love the Phillies second baseman who is third in the league in homeruns, the fact that he’s only hit four in the last month also suggests that he won’t win the Derby.

The second round of the Home Run Derby consists of a “Final Four.” The top two hitters move to the final round, the other two take a seat on the field. My prediction of the top participants who will make round two, but not the finals, are:

  • Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers. Hamilton is the feel good story of the 2008 Major League Baseball season, making every fantasy baseball GM who selected him in March as a “sleeper” look like a genius. After putting up numbers that had pundits calling Hamilton a Triple Crown threat in May and June, he seems to have cooled off in July. Over the last month, he has only hit four bombs – two of them have come in the last week. He’ll put on a performance to get into the second round, and while the entire crowd will root for him, he won’t make the finals.
  • Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins. Morneau hit four homeruns in last year’s Derby, and will make a great dark horse candidate to win. With two homers in the last week and four in the last month, he seems to be “peaking” at the right time. The fact that he bats left-handed will make him a popular choice to win, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Morneau win the first round. But, as any veteran Home Run Derby viewer will tell you, the guy who wins the first round rarely wins the whole thing.

In the final round of the Derby, the best pure slugger of the contest typically goes up against the most consistent hitter in the contest. Due to my exact calculations, the finalists of the Home Run Derby will be:

  • Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers. Braun is the best pure home run hitter in this year’s competition, has hit 6 homeruns in the last month, and 3 in the last week. He will likely hit the most bombs in the second round, and also have most of the top 10 home runs with furthest distance.
  • Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians. Sizemore strikes out a lot for a leadoff hitter, but who cares? It’s the HOME RUN DERBY, and over the last 30 days, Sizemore has more dingers (9) than any other participant in the competition. He will be the most consistent home run hitter in the first two rounds, finishing in the top 3 in the first round and a few homers behind Braun in the second round.

The most important thing to know about the Home Run Derby… your winner…

Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers.

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