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2018 MLB Home Run Derby: Bracket, time, odds and how to watch

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2018 MLB Home Run Derby: Bracket, time, odds and how to watch

The Home Run Derby is officially here! Monday night, Nationals Park will host one of the most anticipated events of the All-Star Week, where the best sluggers in baseball will see how many dingers they can rack up as they face off against each other.

Everyone loves a good home-run show, so before the derby kicks off, here's what you need to know about it, from the start time to the TV channel to the lineup – which, of course, includes Bryce Harper in his second Home Run Derby with a slight home-field advantage.

Eight players have been seeded against each other, and despite the unusual lack of star power in this year's lineup — including missing Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge — this should still be a good show.

There are seven players from the National League and just one from the American League, and the Nats' home-town hero could reasonably win. Harper is the only player participating this year who has previously played in a Home Run Derby, after finishing second in 2013 to Yoenis Cespedes.

So before the Derby starts, here's what you need to know.

HOW TO WATCH

What: 2018 MLB Home Run Derby

Where: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Stream online: Watch ESPN

LINEUP AND SEEDS ( *NL, #AL)

The seeding for this year's bracket was determined based on the number of home runs each player had accumulated by the end of last Tuesday's games, and any ties were broken by the number of total home runs dating back to June 15. Anyone whose home run total going into the derby is different from that at the deadline is noted.

1. Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee Brewers*

Batting average: .298

2018 HRs: 24 (23 at deadline)

2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals*

Batting average: .214

2018 HRs: 23 (22 at deadline)

3. Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers*

Batting average: .271

2018 HRs: 22 (21 at deadline)

4. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros#

Batting average: .288

2018 HRs: 20 (19 at deadline)

5. Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs*

Batting average: .249

2018 HRs: 18 (17 at deadline)

6. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs*

Batting average: .292

2018 HRs: 19 (17 at deadline)

7. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves*

Batting average: .315

2018 HRs: 16 

8. Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies*

Batting average: .252

2018 HRs: 14

THE BRACKET


THE FORMAT

There are three rounds through the bracket with a single-elimination one-on-one format, with the lower seed batting first.

Each player will have four minutes per round, and each batter is allowed one 45-second timeout in the first round and semifinals, plus two timeouts in the final round of 45 seconds and 30 seconds. If a player hits a home run that equals or exceeds 440 feet, an additional 30 seconds will be added to the clock.

However, if the second batter passes the first batter's total, the round ends, and he will be declared the winner. 

Should there be a tie, players will compete in a 60-second swing-off with no timeouts allowed. If that ends and there is still a tie, they will have three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner.

ODDS

Per OddsShark.com, Mr. Bryce Harper has the best odds to win the 2018 MLB Home Run Derby, followed by Kyle Schwarder,  Javier Baez and Jesus Aguilar. Here's the breakdown.

Harper +225

Schwarber +350

Baez +500

Aguilar +500

Muncy +650

Freeman +750

Hoskins +900

Bregman +1000

LAST YEAR'S RESULTS

New York Yankees' slugger Aaron Judge is the defending Home Run Derby champ, but he opted not to participate this year.

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Bryce Harper drives in 3, Nationals snap skid, beat Cardinals 5-4

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Bryce Harper drives in 3, Nationals snap skid, beat Cardinals 5-4

ST. LOUIS -- Koda Glover rewarded his manager's faith.

Bryce Harper had three hits and drove in three runs, Glover earned the save in the first opportunity since Ryan Madson was placed on the disabled list, and the Washington Nationals snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

The Nationals won for just the third time in their last 10 games and snapped the Cardinals' season-high, eight-game winning streak.

"We needed a win today," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "Get on that plane, have a nice happy flight and come back tomorrow and be at home and be ready."

Tanner Roark (8-12) gave up four runs, three earned, in six innings.

A beleaguered bullpen that had blown two leads to start the losing streak took care of the rest. Justin Miller pitched two scoreless innings before Glover closed it out.

"There's been a lot of changes (in the bullpen)," Miller said. "It's unfortunate, a couple of injuries and stuff like that, but I don't really look at it as I've got the seventh or eighth or anything like that. I'm just going out there just trying to do my job."

Glover took the loss in the series opener on Monday, giving up a game-ending homer to Paul DeJong.

"The first game of the series didn't go as I would have liked for it to have went," Glover said. "So to get put back in that situation or even a better situation to get a save, I'm happy with that outcome."

Harper drove in the game's first run with a double in the first and knocked in two more with a bases-loaded single in the fourth to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead.

A pair of errors helped the Nationals extend their lead to 5-1 in the fifth. St. Louis committed three errors in the game after committing just four total errors during the winning streak.

"A couple plays clearly we expect to make and will make and just didn't go our way for a little bit there," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. "To the guys' credit they regrouped, settled down, and started playing back to the baseball they know they can play."

The Nationals had opportunities to pad the lead, leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth while stranding nine runners in the first five innings.

"When you have an opportunity to put teams away you've got to do that," Martinez said. "Especially with how hot the Cardinals are playing right now. They're going to come back."

The Cardinals got within one in the sixth. After DeJong and Kolten Wong came up with back-to-back, two-out RBI hits, Harrison Bader hit a slow grounder to third. Anthony Rendon's throw to first got away from Ryan Zimmerman for an error, allowing Wong to score from second to cut the Nationals' lead to 5-4.

Just two of the four runs Luke Weaver (6-11) allowed in his 3 2/3 innings were earned. He gave up seven hits, including two to Roark, who scored both times.

Tyson Ross allowed one unearned run in 3 1/3 innings of relief.

Bader homered in the third and Matt Carpenter walked twice to extend his on-base streak to a career-high 34 games.

TRAINING ROOM

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson will have an MRI on his sore right wrist on Friday. RHP Joe Ross (right elbow surgery) threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings at Class A Potomac on Thursday and is hoping for a September return.

Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder strain) will begin a rehab Friday at Double-A Springfield. RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) threw two scoreless innings Thursday night at High-A Palm Beach.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (15-5, 2.19 ERA) will take the mound as the Nationals return home for a three-game series Friday night against the Miami Marlins and RHP Dan Straily (4-5, 4.42 ERA). Scherzer is 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA in three starts this season against the Marlins.

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (6-6, 3.22 ERA) kicks off a three-game series Friday night as the Cardinals host the Milwaukee Brewers and RHP Freddy Peralta (5-3, 4.47 ERA). Flaherty struck out a career-high 13 batters in his last start against the Brewers on June 22.

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Is Juan Soto a lock for National League Rookie of the Year?

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Is Juan Soto a lock for National League Rookie of the Year?

In April, it would have been unfathomable. In May, it would have been laughable. In June, it would have been improbable. In July, it started to look possible. In August, it might even have been likely. Now, it’s a complete toss-up.

Juan Soto is the worthiest National League Rookie of the Year. So is Ronald Acuña.

It’s one of the most exciting rookie races in recent memory, not simply for the otherworldly numbers each freshman sensation is putting up, but for just how good they are at such young ages. Juan Soto is a jaw-dropping 19. Acuña, by comparison, is the wizened veteran at the old age of... 20. 

The two are preternaturally talented, and their mature-beyond-their-years games have translated perfectly well to the big leagues. The question now is: which one will actually take home the hardware?

(Before we continue, I’ll note that Jack Flaherty, Brian Anderson, and Walker Buehler are all very talented young players who would at least be in the conversation in normal years).

The first step is to look at the numbers.

On the season Acuña is slashing .287/.347/.571, and his wRC+ is 144. He’s got 19 home runs and 8 stolen bases in just 68 games and his fWAR is 2.3. bWAR has him at 2.8

Soto’s slash line is currently .293/.420/.534, to go along with 15 home runs. His wRC+ is 153, and his fWAR is 2.7. His bWAR sits at 2.2.

Obviously, the numbers are terrific for both. Acuña has been up longer, but thanks to injury Soto has actually played 8 more games. Acuña has the edge in power, both in home runs and slugging percentage, plus he’s clearly the speedier player and better defender. If you’re looking for all-around game, he’s probably your man. Plus, for those who care about such things when voting on awards, the Braves are several games ahead of the Nats in the standings.

However, Soto’s performance has a couple things going for it. First of all, as impressive as it is that Acuña is taking the league by storm as a 20-year old, Soto is nearly a full year younger. It cannot be overemphasized how wild it is what Soto is doing as a teenager. He may very well be the greatest teenage batter in baseball history.

Secondly, Soto has been incredibly consistent. He’s basically been an All-Star level hitter since the day he was called up in May, whereas Acuña’s numbers, while very legitimate, are buoyed by his recent hot streak. He’s hit 8 home runs in 8 games, and of every hitter with at least 100 plate appearances since the All-Star Game, he has the highest wRC+ in that span. He’s had plenty of valleys to his peaks, though, and Soto has been a model of consistency. Of all hitters with at 200 at-bats this entire season, Soto ranks 7th over the entire season, That’s astounding.

Another point in Soto’s favor is just how historic his numbers are. Voters love a narrative, and as mentioned above, Soto is having literally the best offensive season a teenager has ever had. The highest wRC+ by a 19-year old in baseball history is Mel Ott with a 140 exactly 90 seasons ago. Soto is beating that by 13 so far.

The true separator, though, is Soto’s on-base percentage. His .420 mark is a comfortable 4th of all players with at least 300 plate appearances, behind elite batting eyes Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Joey Votto. And, once again, we’re talking about something historic.

Soto’s .420 on-base percentage, if it holds, will be the only OBP over .400 for a teenager with 200 plate appearances in Major League history. In fact, outside of Ott’s .397 in 1928, no other teenager has ever reached base at a .360 clip, let alone Soto’s astronomical .420.

Ultimately, I believe more in Acuña’s future, but I think Soto’s been the better player this season. Acuña is more well-rounded, but Soto’s elite batting eye has made him a top 10 hitter in baseball already. If Soto had been up on Opening Day and played at this level, he’d be on pace for a 5.5 WAR, which would top even Bryce Harper’s 2012 season.

As mentioned, though, voters love a narrative. If Acuña comes back from his injury and stays as hot as he’s been all August, it’ll be tough to ignore his performance during the Braves’ stretch run. This award is not over, but for now, Soto should be considered the favorite.

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