Monday, July 14, 2014

Your 2014 MLB Home Run Derby Primer

By Adam Lowenstein (@StatsAdam)

All eyes will be on Target Field Monday night as Major League Baseball returns to the host city of the first Home Run Derby in 1985. The 2014 edition can be seen on ESPN beginning at 8:00 pm ET.

There is a new format this time in Minnesota, with each player having seven outs instead of the customary 10. In addition, the field includes 10 competitors for the first time since 1999. There are two tandems of teammates along with more derby first-timers than veterans.

Here's what you need to know about all the participants.

American League Team

Yoenis Cespedes

The defending Home Run Derby champion looks to be just the second back-to-back winner in derby history. The only other player to accomplish that feat was Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998 and 1999. Cespedes is also appearing in his first All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Josh Donaldson

The second Oakland Athletic in the 2014 Home Run Derby is competing in his first career derby. Donaldson has already reached 20 home runs before the All-Star break after making it to No. 20 on September 4 last season. Just like his teammate, he is making his first All-Star Game appearance.

Jose Bautista

The American League’s captain is making his third Home Run Derby appearance. He did not participate in 2013, but he finished in second place in 2012 after struggling the previous year. Bautista is hoping to be the first Toronto Blue Jay to win a derby.

Adam Jones

The four-time All-Star, who is hoping to top 30 home runs for the third consecutive year, is participating in his first Home Run Derby. The American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles have a better record on the road than at home this season, so Jones looks to continue that success away from home in Minnesota on Monday.

Brian Dozier

The home fans are definitely rooting for their starting second baseman, who has been the best player for Ron Gardenhire’s squad in 2014. His home run rate and on-base percentage have risen during each of his three professional years. Dozier looks to be just the second Minnesota Twin to be the champion of a Home Run Derby. The first: Justin Morneau.

National League Team

Justin Morneau

Back in 2008, he became the first Twin to win a Home Run Derby. He returns to the city of the team that drafted him after he spent more than a decade with the Twins. The Target Field fans will be backing their former first baseman as well in this derby. The perfect finals matchup for the Twins crowd would include Dozier and Morneau.

Troy Tulowitzki

The second member of the Colorado Rockies competing in the Home Run Derby is the National League’s captain. Tulowitzki leads the majors in runs scored in 2014, and he hopes to become the first member of the Rockies to win a derby. The four-time All-Star is making his first appearance in a derby, but he has been arguably the league’s best player thus far this season.

Todd Frazier

The first-time All-Star is appearing in a Home Run Derby also for the first time in his young career. After having just 19 home runs in each of the last two seasons, Frazier could have a new single-season career-high in that category soon after the All-Star break. Frazier also looks to be the first Cincinnati Red to win a derby since 1989.

Yasiel Puig

Although Jose Abreu is not participating in the Home Run Derby, we still have one Cuban sensation in Minnesota on Monday. With Puig’s tremendous potential, he truly could put on a show that has never been seen before in derby history – maybe the Los Angeles Dodger hits a home run from each side of the plate during the competition.

Giancarlo Stanton

In his first Home Run Derby, Stanton brings his powerful swing to Target Field. No Miami Marlin has ever won a derby, so this could be the turning point for a Marlins team that is looking to make a charge up the National League East standings in the second half of the season.

For more MLB coverage, follow Adam Lowenstein on Twitter at @StatsAdam

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