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Mesa, Arizona – For the third year now the Mid-West Baseball League Christmas Classic history took place in Mesa, Arizona.   Hohokam Park was renovated in 2014 to a state of the art facility in the heart of Mesa. The Christmas Classic tradition continues in 2016, as Hohokam Park opened its gates to a record breaking crowd of just over 10,001 fans.   Many of the fans came out to see Mid-West Baseball League stars, such as the likes of Nolan Arenado of the formerly Clovis Wheat Kings, David Ortiz of the Nelson Cruz - 2016 Christmas Classic Home Run Derby Championformer New York Outlaws & newcomers such as Matt Carpenter of the Columbus Explorers & fan favorite the home town Mesa Solar Sox himself Brian Dozier. Could the fan favorite show up and take the trophy, but in order to do so, Dozier would have to play the game & beat out some of the best in Mid-West League Baseball.

The weather was a perfect 68 degrees and the winds were warm, blowing out to left, but not more than 7 miles an hour.   Humidity was at 66%, which ironically is the magic number for Home Runs in APBA.  Twelve Mid-West Baseball League players, Six (6) from the American League & Six (6) from the National League were participants in the fourteenth (14) Annual Christmas Classic Home Run Derby.  Here is how the Classic played out.

Starting in the first round there was nothing but excitement and drama along the way. Four hitters would move forward into round two, most fans expected the top top four Home Run hitters during the 2016 Mid-West Baseball League Season which were Mike Trout of Motor City, Chris Davis of Tempe, Nelson Cruz of the now defunct Clovis Wheat Kings & Nolan Arenado of the Wheat Kings as well to represent in the second round. Two of them made it. But two were knocked off as well. Trout (5) & Davis (3) got bumped.  Nelson Cruz & Nolan Arenado both made the cut.   Arenado put on a show in round one with two monster blasts.   Arenado’s 1st Home Run went a estimated 571, but it was his 5th Home Run that astonished the 10,001 fans in attendance when he hit the ball (Estimated by Statcast) 596 feet.   “It was a mammoth shot” said Jose Abreu, “The only thing I have seen travel that far is a Cuban on the edge of defection”.

Nelson Cruz Christmas Classic Winner 2016

Also making the top four in the third spot was Abreu of the Dallas Cougars, who hit 9 Home Runs in the first round.  
The final spot was were the excitement played out.  Matt Carpenter, Jose Bautista & Bryce Harper all finished with 7 Home Run, but edging them out to take the fourth spot moving into Round two was the old timer himself Big Papi of the now Defunct New York Outlaws.  Big Papi launched a monster blast himself, belting one 571 that gave him a standing ovation from the Hohokam Park crowd.

Problems arose for two of the final four contestants during warm up swings.  Both Big Papi & Nolan Arenado both felt fatigue & trying to keep the crowd happy both participated in Round Two, but you could tell each was only swinging with half halfheartedness as to avoid injuries.   Neither player did much, with Arenado hitting 1 lone shot in Round Two & Ortiz not even putting enough lift on the ball to hit the fence.  Both players were eliminated when Jose Abreu connected for 5, & Nelson Cruz matched his Round One total with 11.

Nelson Cruz 2016 Christmas Classic Home Run Derby Championship with Pie in the face.So the finals became Jose Abreu representing the Dallas Cougars & Nelson Cruz the Defunct Wheat Kings of Clovis.   Abreu went first in the Final Round & only connected on 1 solo shot.  Nelson Cruz came up short as well, short of his 11 in Round One & Two, but Cruz did not disappoint the crowd after he hit his 2nd & winning Home run.  The Crowd cheered him on to continue, & that he did.  Nelson Cruz connected for 6 more Home Run, giving him a total of 8 in the Final Round to become the 2016 Christmas Classic Home Run Derby Champion.

All in all it was another great day for the Mid-West Baseball League & the Christmas Classic which is now in it’s 14 year.

PLAYER TEAM Season Round I Semi’s Finals Totals Average Long
Encarnacion, Edwin Tijuana 34 4     4 1.3 458
Abreau, Jose Dallas 34 9 5 1 15 5.0 486
Ortiz, David New York 34 8 0   8 2.7 571
Bautista, Jose Tijuana 37 7     7 2.3 441
Dozier, Brian Mesa 37 4     4 1.3 473
Carpenter, Matt Columbus 37 7     7 2.3 480
Cespedes, Yoenis Tempe 40 4     4 1.3 480
Harper, Bryce Detroit 41 7     7 2.3 485
Trout, Mike Motor City 42 5     5 1.7 195
Davis, Chris Tempe 45 3     3 1.0 387
Cruz, Nelson Clovis 46 11 11 8 30 10.0 530
Arenado, Nolan Clovis 54 10 1   11 3.7 596

WEDNESDAY 07/29/2020
AT 11:00 PM - ET!