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MLB Home Run Derby 2015: Results and Round-by-Round Recap

The turbulent skies above Great American Ball Park cleared just long enough to allow Major League Baseball’s 2015 Home Run Derby to proceed as scheduled, albeit with some slight modifications:

Though the storm had momentarily stopped, the thunder and lightning continued in the park as the league’s eight chosen hitters combined to set a new Derby record, more than doubling last year’s output, per ESPN Stats & Info:

It was a night filled with record-breaking and history-making performances, while the sold-out crowd became just the second to ever witness a hometown slugger—Reds third baseman Todd Frazier—capture the crown:

Here’s a complete list of the results before we get into a brief round-by-round recap:

First Round

(3) Josh Donaldson defeats (6) Anthony Rizzo, 9-8

Rizzo had the unfortunate distinction of being the test dummy for the night. The Cubs first baseman was the first player to try his hand at the newly installed Home Run Derby format, and he came away with the lowest single-round total (eight) of the night.

Donaldson was able to take a more strategic approach, getting off to a fast start with some mammoth blasts, including a 465-foot shot for his fifth of the round. 

The Toronto All-Star tied Rizzo’s total with just over 1:30 left in the round, but didn’t hit his ninth for over another minute. 

(2) Todd Frazier defeats (7) Prince Fielder, 14-13

This was when the fun really began. Fielder came out and started hulking shots deep around the park. His gargantuan frame and powerful swing had him nearly falling out of the batter’s box on each attempt, but a high bar had been set for the hometown kid to surpass.

Frazier was living life on the edge all night, but his first-round work prepared him for the exhausting battles ahead. 

Fourteen seemed like too tall a task, especially when Frazier took his timeout with 2:37 left in the round with just five total home runs. But the break rejuvenated him, and the home crowd seemed to energize the 29-year-old.

Frazier hit 13 shots in regulation, blasting his last just as time expired. He then wasted no needless energy in the bonus round, smashing a 455-foot round-winner on his first swing. 

(4) Joc Pederson defeats (5) Manny Machado, 13-12

Machado got off to a solid start with five home runs in the first two minutes, though none of them were exactly awe-inspiring. But then the Orioles third baseman found his groove, hitting two blasts over 461-feet, including a 469-foot bomb for his final regulation home run.

Machado made the most of his bonus time, smacking two dingers on his first two swings to finish with 12.

Unfortunately for Machado, his opponent was Joc Pederson, who put on an absolutely mind-boggling performance throughout the evening. 

Pederson didn’t even need a full three minutes to surpass Machado, and his 487-foot shot into space might have actually caught up with NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto for a brief moment. 

The 23-year-old put the entire field on notice with his first-round masterpiece. 

(1) Albert Pujols defeats (8) Kris Bryant, 10-9

It was a poor showing for both Chicago Cubs players involved in the Home Run Derby, as neither were able to outshine their first-round opponent. 

Bryant was able to find some small grooves, but he was never able to maintain a long stretch of strong swings. 

Pujols, 12 years Bryant’s elder, never pressed throughout the round, taking his time and stepping away to maintain his composure and stamina.

The three-time MVP calmly stepped back into the box as time ran out and jacked the first buzzer-beater home run in MLB history.

It wouldn’t be the last.  



(2) Frazier defeats (3) Donaldson, 10-9

Donaldson appeared to lose a lot of steam following his opening performance. He blasted a home run on his first swing of the round, but he could only hit seven more in regulation before smacking one off the foul pole during bonus time.

With just nine home runs up on the board and Frazier walking to the plate, the Cincinnati fans hit a fervor louder than the massive thunderstorms that had blanketed the region just hours ago.

The New Jersey native had become the favorite son of Cinci as he grinded his way to nine home runs with just under 10 seconds left.

His final shot came just as time expired, with the ball crossing the fence as the clock hit zero.

Pujols’ buzzer-beater was exciting, but in front of thousands of Reds fans, Frazier’s was legendary.

(4) Pederson defeats (1) Pujols, 12-11

Pederson appeared to be losing energy after his tremendous first-round performance. The rookie ended regulation with just nine home runs, seemingly not enough to defeat a slugger of Pujols’ caliber.

Luckily for Pederson, he earned 30 seconds of bonus time, which he used as well as anyone on this night. With just four swings, Joc jettisoned three balls into the bleachers, bringing his total up to 12.

Pujols appeared to be in a good position to pass or tie his young foe, but it appeared he had some issues with condensation on his batting gloves. Most of his hits during the final minute barely approached the deep outfield.

His first swing of the bonus round was a bomb, bringing his total to 11. But Pujols was gassed after that and simply couldn’t will another ball out of the yard.

Pujols gracefully bowed out, while Joc continued to jam on into the finals.


(2) Frazier defeats (4) Pederson, 15-14

What. A. Finale.

At one point, Pederson had hit six consecutive home runs, drawing a mixture of ominous silence and fleeting boos from the Reds-heavy crowd. 

With 14 home runs on the board next to Pederson‘s name, hope looked lost.

But Frazier opened strong, cranking four home runs out in the first minute of his round as the crowd feverishly chanted his name.

Frazier had just six home runs with under two minutes to go, but he once again found his energy and fed off the crowd en route to a Joc-tying 14 home runs.

His first swing of the bonus round left the confines of the park in a hurry, as Frazier turned to embrace Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. He then found his WWE title belt and saluted the boisterous crowd. 

The thunder and lightning and heavy rain would return later, but Frazier had weathered the in-game storm to become this year’s 2015 Home Run Derby champion, and in the process became a Cincinnati baseball folk hero. 

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MLB Power Rankings: Dissecting Each Team’s Postseason Chances

It feels like the 2015 MLB season just started, but we’re already halfway through May, with the blurry picture we were handed in April beginning to clear up and take shape.

It’s far too early to tell for certain where each team will finish. Injuries lurk, prospects emerge and trades will be secretively talked about for months.

But we have an idea of who our favorites are, and a clearer idea of what October might look like.

These power rankings take several things into account when considering each team’s place: current standing; divisional strength; injury concerns; potential trades; prospects who could be called up; positional weaknesses; and FanGraphs’ projected regular-season record.

Each metric is considered and weighed when determining where each team fits. A slow start doesn’t necessarily preclude a team from a high ranking, just as an unexpectedly successful start doesn’t bar a team from a low ranking. It’s about sorting out legitimate contenders and false candidates, while paying attention to trends that may or may not continue as the season goes on.

Baseball is heavily influenced by a broad range of statistics, but I’ve chosen a few from FanGraphs to illustrate each team’s strengths and weaknesses (all definitions from FanGraphs’ glossary):

Wins above replacement (WAR)“WAR offers an estimate to answer the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?” This value is expressed in a wins format, so we could say that Player X is worth +6.3 wins to their team while Player Y is only worth +3.5 wins, which means it is highly likely that Player X has been more valuable than Player Y.”

Weighted on-base average (wOBA): “One of the most important and popular catch-all offensive statistics. It was created by Tom Tango (and notably used in The Book) to measure a hitter’s overall offensive value, based on the relative values of each distinct offensive event. Weighted on-base average combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value.”

Weighted runs created (wRC): “An improved version of Bill James’ runs created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs. Weighted runs created plus (wRC+) measures how a player’s wRC compares with league average after controlling for park effects. League average for position players is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average.”

On-base plus slugging (OPS): “The sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. OPS has value as a metric because it is the only widely accepted statistic that accounts for all the different aspects of offense: contact, patience and power.”

Defense (Def): “Combination of two important factors of defensive performance: value relative to positional average (fielding runs) and positional value relative to other positions (positional adjustment).”

Walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP): Measures how many baserunners a pitcher lets up.”

Fielding independent pitching (FIP): “Measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league-average results on balls in play and league-average timing.”

Anything not addressed here will be explained in the relevant slide, though these are the numbers we’ll mostly be sticking with.

I’ll be spending more time discussing the top teams, as they have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs and embarking on a deep postseason run.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get into the rankings.

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