Assuming Cincinnati does not wash away in an epic storm worthy of one of Hollywood's cheesiest natural disaster movies, the Home Run Derby will take place tonight at 8pm. You can watch on ESPN if you're bored enough, or if you for some reason can't get enough of 20-year-old Chris Berman catch phrases in the year 2015. I am certainly not going to judge, as I am still fond of many catch phrases of the late Stuart Scott, for instance.
The Orioles will have a participant in the Derby for the third straight year. This year it's Manny Machado, who will match up against the Dodgers' Joc Pederson in the first round of the derby.
Machado, at 10/1, has the longest odds of any of the eight participants to win the whole thing. He is a 3/2 underdog to emerge from his first round matchup against Pederson. This is the 4th/5th seed matchup of the contest, with the seeds being determined by the players' current home run totals in the 2015 season, or at least current when they named the rosters. Machado, with 19 home runs, came in as the fifth seed.
If you're not familiar with Pederson since he plays out west, he is a 23-year-old rookie outfielder who's batting .230/.364/.487 on the season. Pederson is a lefty. Like Machado, he's spent most of his time in the leadoff spot, from which he's hit 15 home runs. Before this season, he was on the top 20 and in some cases the top 10 of just about any prospect list you could name.
The format will be different this year. Due to the weather in Cincinnati, MLB has made some changes to the original plan in order to try to fit in the derby into a shorter amount of time. Each player will have four minutes to hit as many home runs as possible in each round. A player can gain 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two or more home runs that are measured at 425+ feet.
ESPN's stats department sums up fairly well why Machado is probably not going to advance or win:
#4 Joc Pederson (20 HR, avg of 431 ft) vs #5 Manny Machado (19 HR, avg of 387 ft) Their longest HRs this season: pic.twitter.com/6pfPtAFix0— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 13, 2015
Whoever wins out of these two will go on to face the winner of a matchup between Albert Pujols and Kris Bryant. The other side of the bracket consists of first round matchups between Prince Fielder and Todd Frazier, as well as Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs, with Rizzo and Bryant, are the only team with two players represented.
Hopefully the rains stay away and the contest proves to be interesting with the new format. Maybe Machado will even find a way to advance.