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Home Run Derby Preview and Predictions

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The Home Run Derby goes off tonight at 8PM. It’ll be on ESPN and streaming at MLB.com.

Say what you want about the Home Run Derby, but it’s a heck of a lot better now in its truncated, three-round, head-to-head, bracketed version than it used to be. The thing moves along nicely, there’s natural building drama and all of that. We like to complain about everything, but the format and entertainment value of the Home Run Derby is pretty darn good and way better than it used to be.

Not that we can’t find something to complain about. This year many will no doubt complain about the lack of star power. Last year we had Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. This year we have Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman — good, but not the pure power beasts we had in 2017 — and beyond them it’s a little anonymous, at least to the casual fan.

My personal view is that that’s OK because it helps introduce folks to players they may not have seen or heard much about. And, let’s not forget, Giancarlo Stanton got eliminated in the first round last year and the guy who lost the final — Miguel Sano — has been playing A-ball down in Fort Myers for the past month. Star power doesn’t mean everything. The dingers take center stage here, not the names.

For 2018, this is who we have:

As we did last year, Bill, Ashley, and I have peered into our crystal ball to tell you exactly what’s going to happen tonight. At least I told you exactly what would happen last year. You may not have heard this anywhere else — I hardly ever mention it because of my natural humbleness — but I picked the whole Derby correctly. Totally by skill and not by dumb luck, I can assure you. As such, if any of my picks are wrong it’s because the thing is rigged.

BILL

Round 1
Jesus Aguilar over Rhys Hoskins
Kyle Schwarber over Alex Bregman
Bryce Harper over Freddie Freeman
Javier Baez over Max Muncy

Round 2
Kyle Schwarber over Jesus Aguilar
Bryce Harper over Javier Baez

Final
Kyle Schwarber over Bryce Harper

 

ASHLEY

Round 1
Rhys Hoskins over Jesus Aguilar
Kyle Schwarber over Alex Bregman
Bryce Harper over Freddie Freeman
Javier Baez over Max Muncy

Round 2
Kyle Schwarber over Jesus Aguilar
Javier Baez over Bryce Harper

Final
Kyle Schwarber over Javier Baez

 

CRAIG

Round 1
Jesus Aguilar over Rhys Hoskins
Alex Bregman over Kyle Schwarber
Bryce Harper over Freddie Freeman
Max Muncy over Javier Baez

Round 2
Jesus Aguilar over Alex Bregman
Max Muncy over Bryce Harper

Final
Jesus Aguilar over Max Muncy

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.