Monday, July 14, 2008

Home Run Derby Preview

I don't know how many people actually look forward to the Home run Derby but it is something I look forward to every year. True this years contest doesn't have the marquee names as it did in the past but it has a lot of young up and coming players that are quickly becoming All-Stars in Major League Baseball. Here is a look at the contenders.

American League Contenders

Justin Morneau 1B Minnesota Twins-2nd Home Run Derby contest. (Finished 5th place out of 8 in 2007). Morneau was the last competitor named to the home run derby. He has 14 HR and 68 RBI's in the first half of the 2008 season. Morneau is one of the only two competitors who actually have home run derby experience and is one of my picks to surprise in tonights competition.

Evan Longoria 3B Tampa Baby Rays-First Home Run Derby Contest. Longoria has 16 HR and 53 RBIs in the 2008 so far. Longoria is one of the many surprises to come out of the sunshine state this season as the Rays are a half game behind the Red Soxs for first place in the AL East. However I don't think Longoria will get out of the first round because nerves will get to the young guy.

Grady Sizemore CF Cleveland Indians-First Home Run Derby Contest. Sizemore has 23 HR and 54 RBI's in 2008 so far. Sizemore is one of the only bright spot for the Indians this season as he is the AL leader in home runs at the All-Star break. Should be one of the favorites to win the competition but I see him fading after round one. Expect to see him in this competition for years to come.

Josh Hamilton RF Texas Rangers-First Home Run Contest. Hamilton has 21 HR and 95 RBI's in 2008 first half. The best single player story of the first half is definitely Hamilton after his battle with drug addiction. It would be absolutely amazing to see him win the competition. Expect Hamilton, who is the MLB RBI leader at the All-Star break, to stay around for a while.

National League Contenders

Dan Uggla 2B Florida Marlins-First Home Run Contest. Uggla has 23 HR and 59 RBI's in 2008 so far. Uggla has probably the best home run swing of any of the competitors. However with this being his first time will he let the pressure get to him. That is something to watch out for. If he can brush the pressure off, Uggla has a real chance to win this competition.

Chase Utley 2B Philadelphia Phillies-First Home Run Contest. Utley has 25 HR and 69 RBI's in 2008 so far. Utley was one of the hottest hitters in first few months of the season. However his last few months he has been overshadowed by teammate Ryan Howard, who leads the National League in home runs with 28. I see Utley being a first round casualty but he will have a huge second half for the Phillies.

Lance Berkman 1B Houston Astros- Fourth Home Run Contest (Best Finish- 2nd in 2004 contest). Berkman has 22 HR and 73 RBI's in 2008 so far. Berkman is my pick to win the contest for a few reasons. One he has been here before and should be the most loose of all the competitors and two he has a swing that can get him deep in this competition. However his home run history is somewhat of a concern. Berkman has been a first round exit in two home run contests he competed in including only having 1 home run in the 2002 contest so anything can happen.

Ryan Braun LF Milwaukee Brewers- First Home Run Contest. Braun has 23 HR and 66 RBI's in the 2008 so far. Braun has been the hottest hitter down the stretch as Milwaukee is closing in on the Cubs in the NL Central race. I think Braun will be a first round exit, I just seeing nerves getting him in the way of any success in this contest.

College Basketball Minute
The three point line is officially moving back in 2008. The three point line, which was 19 feet 9 inches, is moving back one foot and is getting closer to the NBA 3 point range (23 feet 9 inches). I think it is a very good move for college basketball because it seemed like three pointers were easy to come by in 2007 especially for some post players who have some range on their shot. The true three point shooters shouldn't be affected by the new rule but it should be interesting to see come November how much a foot will actually affect the game. Also #3 team in my poll despite losing a lot players the UCLA Bruins have yet another good team ready to make a run in March. They are fine in the guard position with Collison and Shipp but need some young guys to come up and take the place of Love and Mbah a Moute on the interior.
Gonners View Preseason Top 25 Poll
1) North Carolina Tar Heels
2) Pittsburgh Panthers
3) UCLA Bruins

1 comment:

Stefan Ming said...

UNC is obviously the clear-cut number 1. But I think Pitt is a little overrated. They will be a top 15 team, but 2? They struggled quite a bit at time and only got hot at the BE tourney. But they do have a solid core returning but they are still playing in the best conference by far. I think UConn, L'Ville, Notre Dame, and Marquette are still a little better than them.

And UCLA should still be a top team, I agree. Keefe and Aboya are decent posts but I think the recruiting class will help out a lot. Watch out for Jrue Holliday.