The 2015 Home Run Derby is slated for Monday, with some unpredictable weather in Cincinnati that could cause a potential problem. A few notable first timers are making their debuts, including Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson.
The rookie left-handed hitter is facing off in the first round against Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. The rankings and new format for the derby set forth an eight-man bracket, with rankings divided by the number of home runs. Pederson’s 20 home runs place him fourth, while Machado’s 19 have him ranked at fifth.
It’s interesting that Kershaw wouldn’t be on board with his teammate, Pederson, but with superstitions in baseball, he could be trying a “reverse-jinx” method. Also, the Dodgers haven’t fared well in the past in the HR Derby, with seven participants hitting a combined 10 home runs in years past.
Prince Fielder is a solid pick for Kershaw, seeing that Fielder has won the derby in both his appearances. The two-time champion is aiming to tie Ken Griffey Jr.’s record of three derby victories. The boulder-like, left-handed batter has also had the honor of winning for the National League in 2009 and for the American League in 2012.
The other key veteran in the field is Albert Pujols. This will mark Pujols’ fourth appearance in the derby and his last since 2009. The player with 546 career home runs demands a certain respect, also being that he is ranked first amongst all the hitters.
Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds will represent his team and city on stage Monday. The runner-up in the 2014 Derby is looking to make another progressive step and win the title while in front of his home crowd. Rounding out the field of participants is Josh Donaldson. While underperforming in the 2014 derby, he does have that experience that Kershaw believes is key for a potential victory.
Joining Pederson as first time participants are Machado, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo.