Your 2014 Home Run Derby Preview

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Yes, I poo-pooed the Home Run Derby earlier today, but it’s still a thing that’s happening so it’s not like we’re going to ignore it. Indeed, let’s break this thing down. At least to some degree.

The captains, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista have picked their teams, and they break down like this:

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Troy Tulowitzki
Giancarlo Stanton
Yasiel Puig
Todd Frazier
Justin Morneau

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Jose Bautista
Josh Donaldson
Adam Jones
Brian Dozier
Yoenis Cespedes

Some big names with big power there. I tend to like the NL Field better, as it has the guy with the most raw power in all of baseball in Giancarlo Stanton, a highly-underrated power guy in Todd Frazier — he has hit several 450-foot+ homers this year — and a former Derby champ in Justin Morneau. Not that the AL field is bad. Cespedes won it last year and no one can doubt Bautista’s power. I just think the NL has to have the edge here.

The format may be the biggest star, however. It’s different this year, designed to keep guys fresher longer. Which has been a problem in the past, as performers who light it up early often run out of gas in the later rounds (think Josh Hamilton in 2008). This year players will be limited to seven outs, instead of 10. Also, the two guys who lead their league in first-round homers will get a second round bye and head straight to the semi-finals, thus rewarding the quick starters with a nice break.

Six players will advance out of the first round (the two league leaders and the four guys at large) and two will advance out of the second round to face the two bye-recipients in the semis. The two finals participants will get seven outs apiece, and, if it comes down to a tiebreaker, they’ll get three swings apiece.

Here is how Vegas breaks it down:

Giancarlo Stanton: 2/1
Yoenis Cespedes: 5/1
Jose Bautista: 5/1
Yasiel Puig: 6/1
Troy Tulowitzki: 13/2
Josh Donaldson: 10/1
Adam Jones: 12/1
Brian Dozier: 12/1
Todd Frazier: 12/1
Justin Morneau: 15/1

Like I said last week, I think Todd Frazier and Justin Morneau are being slept on somewhat. Maybe Brian Dozier too. But, as always, we have no real clue until they start to grip it and rip it tonight.

Rafael Devers won’t visit White House with Red Sox

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The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.

However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”

Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.

Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.

Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.

No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.