Home Run Derby predictions: Could Aaron Judge really hit a 536-foot homer?

Can Giancarlo Stanton defend his title in front of his hometown crowd? Will the sweet-swinging rookie Aaron Judge hit the longest homer of the night? How far will it go? And who will be the surprise star?

Our panel of experts makes its picks and predictions for the 2017 Home Run Derby (8 p.m. ET on ESPN and streaming live on the ESPN App).

Who is going to win the Home Run Derby?

Jerry Crasnick: Giancarlo Stanton. I hate to go with the chalk, but Stanton has too much working in his favor. He’s familiar with the environs, and he’ll have the motivation of winning for his late teammate, Jose Fernandez, before a supportive home crowd. He’ll bring it home and join Ken Griffey Jr. and Yoenis Cespedes as the third player to win back-to-back Derbies.

Bradford Doolittle: Gary Sanchez. He has the highest average true home run distance (per ESPN’s Home Run Tracker) of anyone in the field and second-highest overall to Kendrys Morales. Besides, Logan Morrison‘s comments give Sanchez the disrespect card to play as an extra motivator.

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  • Scott Lauber: Aaron Judge. Why? Because of course he will. He is the biggest thing in baseball; homers are his signature. Any other questions?

    Andrew Marchand: Judge.

    David Schoenfield: Stanton. He won last year and he’ll win again in front of the hometown fans.

    Mark Simon: Stanton will join Griffey Jr. and Cespedes as the only players to win the Home Run Derby consecutive times. Simple reasoning: For someone as skilled and as strong as Stanton, it’s almost impossible for him not to be great in this event. The Derby is made for him.

    Who will hit the longest home run of the night?

    Crasnick: Judge will catch hold of one that leaves a vapor trail as the ball sails over the Budweiser sign in left field.

    Doolittle: Judge. He routinely puts on a long-ball show in batting practice, so he should be right at home in this competition, even though I think he’ll be upset by Sanchez in an all-Yankees final.

    Lauber: Miguel Sano. At 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, the Minnesota Twins third baseman could be the third member of a formidable front court with Judge and Stanton. He hits baseballs as far as them, too.

    Schoenfield: Judge has the longest home run of the regular season at 496 feet, and we know Stanton can hit one 500 feet. The player with the longest average home run distance, however, is Gary Sanchez at 420.9 feet (he trails only Kendrys Morales overall), so don’t be surprised if he launches the longest one. But I’ll go with Judge.

    Simon: Judge will hit one 536 feet — and I pick that distance for historical synergy. The Yankees player most known for hitting tape-measure home runs is Mickey Mantle. He hit 536 career home runs. I’ll go with that over 565 (the length of one of Mantle’s most famous homers) because the latter seems too ambitious.

    Giancarlo Stanton hit 61 home runs last year, how many will he hit this time?

    Crasnick: Marlins Park is a big yard. It ranks 23rd among the 30 MLB parks in home run friendliness this season (compared to 24th for Petco Park, where Stanton launched his 61 last year). Unless the Derby balls are juiced, I think Stanton will top out at 55 — even with a push from Judge.

    Doolittle: 42. Hey, not trying to be a kill-joy here, but since I’m picking Sanchez in an upset, that means Stanton gets knocked out in the semifinals.

    Lauber: 11. Stanton should benefit from home-field advantage, but he actually has hit more homers on the road in three of the past five seasons. Also, 61 homers is ridiculous.

    Schoenfield: The balls were flying on a warm, early evening last year in San Diego. Marlins Park is a slightly tougher home run park than Petco, so I’ll say Stanton falls a little short and hits 54.

    Simon: As much as I want to keep the historical synergy thing going and say 73 (to match the MLB record), that seems unrealistic. Let’s say he goes one better and hits 62.

    How far will Aaron Judge’s longest home run travel?

    Crasnick: Judge’s 496-foot shot off Baltimore’s Logan Verrett on June 11 is the longest in the big leagues this season. Now that he knows what’s coming, I think he’ll clear 510.

    Doolittle: 514 feet. He’s strong.

    Lauber: 463 feet. Marlins Park can be tough on sluggers. But Stanton hit one 462 feet there on May 26, according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, and, of course, Judge will have to top that.

    Marchand: 525 feet.

    Schoenfield: Are they using the “special” Home Run Derby balls? (Actually, maybe that explains all the home runs this year. Leftover Home Run Derby balls were inserted into the regular-season mix.)

    Simon: See my answer to the second question.

    Who will be the surprise star of the home run derby?

    Crasnick: Miguel Sano. He went through a rough patch in June, but he’s got his swing back and is ready for his moment on the big stage. We’re talking monster power here.

    Doolittle: Sanchez. The Sanchino! Gary’s not that scary, but he is an awfully good hitter.

    Lauber: Sanchez. He has the unenviable first-round draw of Stanton. But the Yankees’ second-most touted slugger will make a good showing — and he won’t even need Logan Morrison to pinch-hit for him.

    Schoenfield: It would be kind of fun if a Marlin won and it was Justin Bour instead of Stanton.

    Simon: Sano will win his first-round matchup and will lose in a tiebreaker to Judge in the semifinals. And he’ll hit some monstrous home runs along the way.

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