Wednesday, July 06, 2005

« International HR Derby? ¡Impresionante! »

By Suss
The Home Run Derby is looking a little different this year.

In recent memory, the Derby has featured eight heavy hitters -- four from each league. The change this year is that instead of the players being selected by division, there will be a one-player-per-country limit.

The idea is to celebrate international participation in the majors and also to get people ready for 2006's "World Cup" of baseball, the World Baseball Classic, in which 16 teams from Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas will participate in their own version of "March Madness."


United States: There has yet to be an announcement for the US player, but there are obviously many good choices. Derrek Lee, with 25 homers, is a good start. But you couldn't go wrong with Morgan Ensberg (22), Adam Dunn (22), Mark Teixiera (22), Cliff Floyd (21), Alex Rodriguez (21) or Ken Griffey (501 career).

Puerto Rico: Pudge Rodriguez has said he will participate. He's not a typical home run hitter, since his only 30-plus homer season came in 1999, and he only has 5 this year. Plus, he'll be teeing off in his home field of Comerica Park. He might have a chance to make it in the top four. The last player not to make the second round that played in a home field Derby was Bret Boone in 2001 at Safeco Field.

Other viable candidates would have been a pair of Carloses. Delgado and Beltran both have good power, but again it's difficult to say no to the home favorite.

Venezuela: Bobby Abreu has agreed to participate. Miguel Cabrera would have also been a slick pick.

Curacao: Andruw Jones, who leads the league with 26 homers, will represent this Netherlands protectorate. And since he's the only major league player from Curacao, it's no contest.

Canada: Jason Bay seems slated to be the Derby's Canuck, but if you wanted to go with the nostalgic pick, why not Larry Walker? He's Derbied before a few times.

Dominican Republic: David Ortiz will represent the DR, and he has the support of last year's Derby champ and fellow DR native Miguel Tejada. Said Tejada of Ortiz on, "He is our home run king in the Dominican." Even if Ortiz nor Tejada were to be hitting them out for the DR, they would still be a favorite to win if Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Vlad Guerrero or Sammy Sosa (to name a few) played. Pujols finished 2nd in the 2003 Derby.

Panama: Carlos Lee, with 22 homers, has agreed to participate.

Japan: If a Japan person plays, it would probably be Hideki Matsui, because while he's not so much a power hitter here, he was in Japan, and he's no slouch when it comes to a batting practice pitch. But what about Ichiro? He is more known for base knocks to all fields, and he has only 6 homers this season and 43 in five seasons. Still, he probably does have the power to knock it out of the park and is just too smart to swing for the fences too much in a game setting.

While these are the eight countries to participate, here's a couple others that merit consideration:

Cuba: How many more times would we get to see Rafael Palmeiro (12 this season, 563 for his career)? He is sorely underrated as a Hall of Fame candidate, and in the twilight of his career it would be so rewarding to see him outhit one of today's power hitters.

Mexico: Maybe this is a stretch, but Jorge Cantu has a career high 13 homers and is a very underrated infielder. Heck, his slugging percentage is almost as good as fellow second baseman Jeff Kent's, and he's not a prototypical power hitter, so why not take the Derby and see what a young infielder does against the Ortizes and Abreus of the league?

Personal predictions will come the afternoon of the Derby. Heh, I say that now. Place your bets on if I keep my promise.


Anonymous Uncle Mike said...

Ahem...As of last year,Manny Ramirez,is,o-fish-aa-lee,a US citizen.....signed,Uncle Mike PS... GO SOX

July 06, 2005 4:28 AM  

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