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Exit velocities and launch angles: Who's the Derby's air mail king?

Sometimes, the Home Run Derby makes all the sense in the world. Like, take last year. Last year's winner was Giancarlo Stanton, and it should have been Giancarlo Stanton. He was the obvious pick, and then he won. What else would you expect?

Other times, it doesn't follow the script. I'll grant that, if you squint, you can make some sense of Todd Frazier. But, 2011 Robinson Cano wasn't known as a slugger. Bobby Abreu, a pure hitter but not so much a power hitter, set some then-Derby records in 2005. The 2003 Home Run Derby was won by Garret Anderson. It's a weird event. It can be a fun event, but it's a weird event, and it's not something we can easily predict.

I'd go so far as to suggest there's hardly anything we can do. From an analytical perspective, the Home Run Derby presents certain challenges. It's televised batting practice, batting practice with a clock, and so it's hardly a game-like setting. Hitters actually try to hit home runs, which they say they don't do often, and fatigue eventually comes into play in a way it doesn't during a normal nine innings. What I want to say to you is I don't know how to predict the Home Run Derby. And also that I'm going to try.

The Derby will be in Marlins Park, a pitcher-friendly stadium, but one that doesn't show a strong preference for righty or lefty power. So, that's a factor we can go ahead and ignore. Here are the eight participants, arranged in order of their official MLB seeding:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton

  2. Aaron Judge

  3. Cody Bellinger

  4. Mike Moustakas

  5. Miguel Sano

  6. Charlie Blackmon

  7. Justin Bour

  8. Gary Sanchez

Talented power hitters, the lot of them. They'd better be -- it's a power event! Stanton gets the default No. 1 seed, either because he's the defending champ or because he's playing in his own park. If the latter, that didn't do anything for Bour, but there's no real reason to complain. They'll all get a chance. Anyone could conceivably win.