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MLB Home Run Derby Primer

As major league baseball takes a break from its grueling schedule for the all-star game on Tuesday, today we are given the joy of the Home Run Derby. The Derby is one of the signature events of any all-star event. And tonight at Target Field in Minnesota, fans will be greeted with a new bracket-style format. Meet the participants.

American League

Yoenis Cespedes is looking to become the first repeat winner since Ken Griffey Jr. in 98-99 (Getty Images).

Yoenis Cespedes (Athletics): The reigning champion, this Cuban slugger is a beast. He’s got 14 homers at the break, and with the slump that offenses are in around the game, that’s a very respectable total. Target Field is a tough stadium to go deep in, but Cespedes can hit the ball out of any park. The Derby is always geared towards lefties, but we have NINE righties in the event this year. Cespedes is a righty capable of repeating.

Jose Bautista (Blue Jays): Another righty, “Joey Bats” is capable of winning this event and hitting the ball out of any park. He’s got 17 homers for the resurgent Blue Jays and is making his fifth straight appearance in the all-star game. Expect some moon shots from this slugger.

Brian Dozier (Twins): Probably the name you haven’t heard of on this list, Dozier will be a hometown hero at the event. But he’s not there solely because he plays for the Twins. He’s got 18 homers this year, and is coming off a two-homer game on Sunday. Eighteen is a great number for all of baseball this season, but for a second baseman, it makes him one of the best sluggers in the league.

Adam Jones (Orioles): Jones has 16 homers at the break and is coming off back-to-back 30-homer seasons. The fourth righty on this American League squad, he’s a line-drive gap hitter, and he could struggle just trying to hit towering fly balls. He is probably the best pure hitter of the AL group, but we’ll see how that translates here.

Josh Donaldson (Athletics): Donaldson had 24 homers a season ago, and he’s at 20 already for the first-place A’s. He doesn’t get cheated at the plate, and his helicopter-style swing is prone to some moon shots. He could be a dark horse.

National League:

Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies): After several injury-plagued seasons, Tulo is back in a big way in 2014. He’s the team captain for the NL and he’s got 21 homers. That’s not just because he plays in Colorado, he’s a guy who can really drive the baseball.

Giancarlo Stanton is the early favorite tonight in the Home Run Derby (Getty Images).

Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins): He’s the favorite. Make no mistake about it. He’s tied with Tulo for the league-lead with 21 jacks. He’s got more 450-ft homers than most teams.

Yasiel Puig (Dodgers): 

Yasiel Puig could be a dark horse tonight (Getty Images).

This may be the toughest guy to predict heading into the event. He’s got 12 home runs thus far, and he’s very capable of hitting the ball out. He’s a guy who hits the ball to the gap and runs usually, but he’s got a big swing, and a big-time flare for the dramatic, so he could be a guy to just take the spotlight and run.

Todd Frazier (Reds): Like Dozier, he’s a name you need to get familiar with. He’s got 19 homers and he’ll also be playing in the game on Tuesday.

Justin Morneau (Rockies): The lone lefty in the event, Morneau is enjoying a major bounceback season. He’s got 13 homers and 60 RBIs and is hitting .312. But the former Twins return to Minnesota should provide the best moment of the night. Expect a lengthy ovation and an emotional opening as he’s introduced.

My Prediction: I think Puig will really impress early, and I think Donaldson will advance far with the new format. Everyone is picking Stanton, so I’ll be different. Tulowitzki wins it. He won’t hit them the farthest, but he’ll do just enough to win.

Enjoy the event tonight on ESPN, or listen on 104.5 The Team!

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