Derby duos: Slugfest seedings announced

July 4th, 2017

The field of eight for the 2017 T-Mobile Home Run Derby next week at Marlins Park in Miami was made official earlier this week, and now we know the first-round matchups after they were announced Wednesday on ESPN.
The seedings for the Derby -- airing Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN -- will pit No. 1 seed of the hometown Marlins against No. 8 seed of the Yankees. Another Marlin, draws a tough assignment as the No. 7 seed against No. 2 seed and MLB home run leader of the Yankees.

Rookie sensation of the Dodgers will be the No. 3 seed against a division rival, No. 6 seed Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies. The final matchup is an AL Central showdown with No. 4 seed Mike Moustakas of the Royals vs. No. 5 seed of the Twins.
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All but Stanton, the reigning Derby champion, are new to the Derby. The hulking Marlins outfielder delivered 61 total homers last July at Petco Park in San Diego, becoming the first Marlins player to win the Home Run Derby.
Judge and Blackmon were already headed to Miami as fan-elected starters for the July 11 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. Sano, Stanton, Bellinger and Sanchez were selected as reserves.

Bour and Moustakas could soon join them. Both are among the candidates in their respective leagues for the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote. Voting ends at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.
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Judge is currently pacing the Majors in home runs with 29, and Bellinger is tied for the NL with 24. Moustakas (24), Stanton (21), Sano (20), Bour (18) and Blackmon (18) each entered Monday ranked among the top 25 this season, while Sanchez has hit 13 homers despite missing a month with a right biceps strain.

These sluggers aren't just notable for their home run totals; they've crushed them in style, too. Below is a sampling of what makes this year's Derby competitors special from a Statcast™ perspective:
Bellinger: The Dodgers' sensational rookie stands out not only because of his spot on the home run leaderboard, but also due to how many have been moonshots. Bellinger's 14 home runs of 400 feet or longer are tied for the second most among lefty hitters, behind only Joey Votto's 17.

Blackmon: Last month against the D-backs, Blackmon connected on a deep curveball that dipped 44.8 inches for a 433-foot home run. At 0.84 feet off the ground, it marked the lowest pitch hit for a home run this season and the second lowest since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015.

Bour: Between the friendly surroundings of Marlins Park and the soft-tossed batting-practice pitches, Bour should feel mighty comfortable at the plate next Monday. Miami's first baseman owns a 90.1-mph average exit velocity against offspeed pitches this season, second only to Bellinger among left-handed hitters. His nine dingers against offspeed pitches are tied for second among lefty hitters

Judge: The Yankees rookie is not only pacing the Majors in home runs, he's also responsible for both the longest and hardest-hit home run of 2017. On June 11, Judge established a Statcast™ record with a 121.1-mph laser against the Orioles. The very next day, he belted the longest home run of the season at a Statcast-projected 495 feet.

Moustakas: If you're going to the Derby, make sure you're over in the right-field seats when Moustakas comes to the plate. Kansas City's third baseman loves to pull the ball (doing so on 63.2 percent of his contact) and his 22 homers to the pull side are the second most among lefties behind Tampa Bay's .

Sanchez: New York's catcher not only hits home runs -- he hits them with the kind of authority that can snap any crowd to attention. Sanchez has posted an average exit velocity of 109.8 mph on his round-trippers in 2017, the second highest among all hitters with at least 10 home runs this year and less than 1 mph behind teammate Judge (110.7 mph).

Sano: Behind Judge, no hitter routinely hits opposing pitching as hard as Sano, whose 94.4-mph average exit velocity ranks second in the Majors. And Sano has been better than anyone at connecting for hard contact against fastballs. At 97.7 mph, his exit velocity against those pitches (four-seamers, two-seamers and sinkers) is tops in the big leagues among hitters who have put at least 75 balls in play.

Stanton: Stanton established the Statcast™ record for the longest home run with a 504-foot moonshot on Aug. 6, 2016. The Marlins slugger also frequently surfaces in the exit velocity leaderboards; he owns the third (119.2 mph), fifth (118.5 mph) and seventh (116.8 mph) hardest-hit home runs since Statcast™ was introduced.