Mark Trumbo is your Home Run Derby favorite

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With Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium serving as the battleground, Monday’s Home Run Derby figured to yield fewer souveniers than usual. Kauffman is one of the game’s tough home run parks. Using Stats Inc. park factors, only Minnesota’s Target Field played tougher on home runs for AL parks  from 2009-11 and that only slightly. It’s played closer to neutral this year, but Yankee Stadium it’s not.

That’s especially true for left-handed hitters. With 100 being average, Kauffman had a home run park factor of 64 from 2009-11, the lowest of any AL stadium. It was a more reasonable 89 for right-handed hitters. Yankee Stadium, in comparison, was at 143 for lefties and 117 for righties.

So, the righties should have the advantage tonight. Kauffman is a symmetrical park, but the ball just tends to travel better to left field.

And that’s one big reason I expect the Angels’ Mark Trumbo to be the champ. Of the participants, he’s hit the longest homers this year.

Data taken from ESPN Stats & Info:

R – Trumbo: 22 HR – 419.5 ft
L – Prince Fielder: 15 HR – 411.7 ft
L – Robinson Cano: 20 HR – 406.8 ft
R – Jose Bautista: 27 HR – 403.3 ft

L – Carlos Gonzalez: 17 HR – 412.4 ft
S – Carlos Beltran: 20 HR – 408.9 ft
R – Matt Kemp: 12 HR, 400.2 ft
R – Andrew McCutchen: 18 HR – 398.9 ft

Interestingly, Beltran says he still hasn’t decided whether he’ll swing lefty or righty tonight.

Apart from Trumbo, I think Cano, the defending champ, and Beltran are the favorites. Bautista and Kemp were both eliminated in the first round last year, and Kemp still has some rust to shake anyway. Fielder has the muscle to start off strong, but as much effort as he puts into his swing, I think he’d fade if he ever made it to the finals.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.