In addition to releasing the early voting results for the 2012 All-Star Game, MLB also announced that the New York Yankees' Robinson Cano and Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp would be captains for the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Last year was the first in which captains selected the squads of four American League and four National League players to participate in the contest. David Ortiz picked the AL contingent, while Prince Fielder assembled the NL competition.
One player who won't be participating is the majors' home run leader, Josh Hamilton. The Texas Rangers outfielder was asked to be the captain of the AL squad, but he declined the opportunity, saying he doesn't want to risk getting hurt.
So there's one big name that Cano can scratch off his list. But plenty of top sluggers are still available and ready for the choosing. Who are some of the names Cano and Kemp might ask to swing in the Home Run Derby, and what are the chances of them accepting the invitation?
Curtis Granderson: 95%
Cano has already said he'll ask his Yankees teammate, who has 17 homers, to participate in the Derby. Granderson says he isn't sure he'd like to do it because he doesn't usually put on a show during batting practice. But Grandy is a nice guy who doesn't like to say no. He'll be there.
Adam Dunn: 0%
Dunn is second in the majors with 18 homers. He's had a resurgent season after just embarrassing himself last year. Does he really want to risk messing up his swing? Besides, he's never participated in the Home Run Derby. Why would he do so now?
David Ortiz: 25%
Ortiz has 13 homers and has been in plenty of these contests. But he might want a break after being in the Derby the past two years.
Edwin Encarnacion: 80%
How many people even realize Encarnacion is third in the majors with 17 home runs? He already has as many homers as last season. He's one of this season's breakout stars. Would he decline an opportunity to swing with the big boys if invited? No way.
Adam Jones: 80%
Jones has been an All-Star before, back in 2009. But he won't be an obligatory selection this year with the MVP-caliber numbers he's putting up. Much like Encarnacion, if he's invited onto the national stage to show off some power, he'll likely jump on the chance.
Josh Willingham: 45%
Every year, one player is invited to participate in the Derby that you might not expect. Willingham could be that guy this year. That's not to say he shouldn't hang out with the game's top sluggers. His 11 home runs give him the necessary credentials.
Giancarlo Stanton: 100%
Stanton has to participate, right? Who doesn't want to see him swing away and launch some baseballs out of Kauffman Stadium? He's a potential highlight every time he steps to the plate. Fortunately for all of us, Stanton says he'll say yes when Kemp asks him.
Carlos Beltran: 25%
Beltran leads the NL with 16 home runs, looking like the elite slugger he was in 2006-07. Despite his resurgence this season, he's been somewhat creaky and missed several games with a sore knee. He'll likely take whatever opportunity he gets to give his body a rest.
Andre Ethier: 95%
Here's the NL version of a player who might not be expected to take part in a home run hitting contest. But Kemp says he'll ask his Dodgers teammate to participate. And Ethier might relish the chance for more national spotlight in a contract year.
Carlos Gonzalez: 80%
Stanton's home runs have drawn attention for how far they've gone. But Gonzalez may have put on the best display of power in the NL this season, hitting home runs in four consecutive at-bats. He's not getting nearly as much All-Star support from the fans as he should be, and an invitation to the Derby could make up for that.
Ryan Braun: 15%
With 14 homers, the reigning NL MVP is just ahead of his home run pace from last season. He's certainly one of the elite power hitters in baseball and would be a great addition to the NL Derby squad. But coming off his drug-testing controversy, will he want to face the scrutiny that would come with him launching a bunch of baseballs out of the park?
Dan Uggla: 60%
Uggla has participated in only one prior Home Run Derby despite being one of the best power hitters in the sport. So maybe this just isn't his thing. But as the Braves' best offensive threat, he'd be an excellent representative for his team. Plus, I'm guessing he'd love to show off his biceps in one of those All-Star jerseys.
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