Derby day: Folks around MLB make predictions

Commissioner Manfred looking forward to new format in Cincinnati

Derby day: Folks around MLB make predictions

CINCINNATI -- As he prepares to preside over his first Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders at Great American Ball Park, Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday morning that the only prediction he can make is that the new format "will allow our fans to be even more excited about the event. So I'm really looking forward to it."

Manfred thinks the advance availability of brackets for the first time will be a big difference-maker in generating excitement, and we're already seeing plenty of examples. Need help for your own picks in the MLB.com Home Run Derby Bracket Challenge? We asked people around Major League Baseball for their picks, so here we go as everyone awaits the first swings by Albert Pujols, Kris Bryant, Todd Frazier, Prince Fielder, Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rizzo, Joc Pederson and Manny Machado.

Marlins second baseman and former Dodger Dee Gordon , a fan-elected starter before injury: "I'll go with my boy from L.A., Joc. He kind of likes the spotlight."

Tigers All-Star J.D. Martinez : "I kind of like Bryant. We kind of have similar swings, and I like his swing. I think he's a big guy. He's got a lot of leverage. Those balls fly, and this is a small ballpark. He can hit it out anywhere. Him or Prince. But it's a different format, so it should be interesting. It's kind of hard to go with a guy like Prince just because he's never done it this way."

Brian Dozier, the Twins' All-Star second baseman who competed in last year's Derby: "First of all, it was the most nervous I've ever been in my life last year with this thing. It's so different with no tunnel, no cage, nothing, and a catcher behind you -- lot of pressure. I think it's going to be interesting tonight. My pick tonight, I'm going to have to go with the old vet, Albert Pujols. I think he's going to wow some people, especially in this park."

Chris Berman, longtime ESPN voice of the event: "I'm going to go with Pujols. He wants to do it. Albert hasn't been on the stage in four years since he's been an Angel. His kids want to see him do well. That's good enough motivation for him."

Joe Torre: "You know what, I get a little partial. I guess the unofficial favorite is Frazier, right? It seems to be the local taste right now. But no, I don't. I've watched this year-in and year-out, what it comes down to, regular home run hitters, they get in a little bit of a zone and then everything they swing at seems to go out of the ballpark. Then you watch guys like Pujols back in his heyday, every time he swung the bat, it went in the air."

Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, a 2014 All-Star: "Oh, I hope Todd wins. It would be very cool for him to do that in front of the home crowd. I know that he can definitely hit 'em out in BP, so hopefully he comes through and does it now."

Indians All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis: I've got to go with my fellow lefties -- either Prince or Rizzo."

Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini: "Todd Frazier! Come on. Because he's our hometown hero and he almost won last year, and we all love him."

Rays manager Kevin Cash: "Let's go with Pujols, since I intentionally walked [Mike] Trout twice and [Pujols] burned us."

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Nationals closer Drew Storen: "I have to go with Todd Frazier. He is a great guy. I'm rooting for him in his hometown. I'll go with the homer pick. He is just a good hitter, he'll make adjustments. When he knows the heater is coming, he is going to do some damage. So I like him in the contest."

Rangers broadcaster Mark McLemore: "Prince, of course. Because he is good. I know it's a new format, but I like his swing right now and he has been there before. I don't see the other guys every day, but just the whole experience, the All-Star Game. He has been there and done that."

Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier: "I'm going to go young Joc, Joc Pederson."

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Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta: "I think Rizzo might have a slight advantage there; short porch in right, ball flies pretty well. He's talking about going to the opposite field for a few. He's more than capable of doing that. You can't ever count Kris out because of the power he has. We'll see how good his dad is at throwing BP."

Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler: "[Rizzo and Bryant are] in my hitting group, and it depends on [coach Franklin] Font. If Font throws it where Riz wants -- well, I don't know. You know, 'K.B.,' he has familiarity with his pops. You never know."

MLB Network analyst and Reds legend Sean Casey: "I got to go with the hometown boy, Todd Frazier. Frazier's got that big-time power. You got to love it, and I think the fans would love to see Flava-Fraz win this thing. And he's No. 21, which you got to love."

Former Reds All-Star pitcher Tom Browning: "I think Kris Bryant's going to win, because his power is to right-center, and that's the shortest part of our ballpark."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.