Home Run Derby 2012: 10 Top Sluggers We'd Rather Watch in the Derby
Now that the contestants have been named for the 2012 Home Run Derby, many fans are left disappointed.
While the names in the wildly popular home run hitting contest are among the game's greats today—Matt Kemp, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran and Giancarlo Stanton for the NL; Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder, Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista for the AL—there are, no doubt, sluggers whom fans would have paid top dollar to see hitting bombs at Kauffman Stadium as well.
Here are 10 of those names.
Adam Dunn: Chicago White Sox
Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn has seen quite a turnaround from a 2011 season that can only be called disastrous.
Just a year after hitting only .159 with 11 home runs, Dunn has already belted 24 long balls this year in just half a season.
Sure, he strikes out a ton and hits just .210, but what fan wouldn't want to see Dunn hit majestic shots at Kauffman Stadium?
Josh Hamilton: Texas Rangers
When Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton declined an offer to participate in the 2012 Home Run Derby, fans were no doubt disappointed, but they certainly can't argue his reasoning.
"I love doing it," Hamilton said on Sunday night (per MLB.com). "I loved doing it in 2008. I don't think it affected my swing, and it didn't wear me out for the rest of the season. The only drawback and the reason why I haven't done it since then is being in the hunt and the race for the postseason. Even though it's fun, it only takes one swing, one thing different can do something to hurt."
Hamilton put on a show in 2008, hitting 28 homers in one round alone for a Derby record. However, it certainly appears that the Rangers are very serious about defending their American League pennant, and Hamilton is along with them as well.
Jim Thome: Baltimore Orioles
In a magnificent 22-year career, Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Jim Thome has belted 609 home runs—good for a tie for seventh on the all-time list.
At the age of 41, Thome can still drive a ball farther than just about everyone in the league. Last July 17, Thome hit a three-run blast off Kansas City Royals pitcher Felipe Paulino, traveling some 490 feet or so before finally landing in the upper deck at Target Field for his 596th career home run.
The only question remaining is: which side would Thome hit for? Considering he's only played in two games for the O's, it's a fair question.
Does it really matter?
Billy Butler: Kansas City Royals
Only one player in the last six seasons has participated in the Home Run Derby in his home ballpark—Albert Pujols in 2009 at Busch Stadium.
That troubling trend should change.
The All-Star Game festivities should revolve around the fans, and the Home Run Derby should as well. Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler would have been an excellent choice to compete in front of his home crowd.
While not a natural home run hitter, Butler is easily on pace to set a new career single-season high this year with 16 homers already.
Miguel Cabrera: Detroit Tigers
How fun would it have been to see two teammates bashing against each other in the 2012 Home Run Derby?
Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder will be showing off for the fans at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, and it would have been a delight to see third baseman and teammate Miguel Cabrera hitting bombs as well.
Cabrera competed in the Home Run Derby in both 2006 and 2010.
Curtis Granderson: New York Yankees
One of these days I'm going to pen some lyrics for a new song for New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson.
Taking a page from Sammy Davis' hit The Candy Man, the Grandy Man can!
Granderson has become one of the more prolific home run hitters in the last two years, hitting 41 last year, and following up with another 23 this year while approaching the midway point of the 2012 season.
Albert Pujols: Los Angeles Angels
For only the third time in 12 seasons, Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols will be watching the All-Star Game festivities from his home.
Mainly due to a horrible April, Pujols will no doubt enjoy his three days off before trying to help his Halos in the second half of the season. However, it would have been nice to see Pujols hitting bombs at Kauffman Stadium nonetheless.
Pujols has participated in three previous Home Run Derby contests—the last in 2009.
Ryan Braun: Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is currently leading the National League with 22 home runs, and is in the top 10 in all three Triple Crown categories.
Considering the difficult offseason he endured, that's pretty special.
It's unclear how fans will greet Braun at this year's All-Star festivities, but it still would have been nice to see the current NL home run leader on the roster.
Bryce Harper: Washington Nationals
When NL Home Run Derby captain Matt Kemp was questioned about the possibility of including Washington Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper in his derby lineup, he was diplomatic in his response.
"It's not because he's a rookie. It's just that there are other guys out there that are capable,'' Kemp told USA TODAY. "I'm not saying he wouldn't do a good job in the Home Run Derby. He's going to have plenty of time to participate in many Home Run Derbies. Just not this year. Nothing against him. I love watching him play.''
Kemp is absolutely right—Harper will no doubt be included in future Home Run Derby contests. But fans would have loved to have seen the young slugger participate in his first season.
David Ortiz: Boston Red Sox
There is probably no one in baseball more engaging when it comes to fans than Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.
Ortiz captured the 2010 Home Run Derby crown at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, and was the AL captain last year.
This year, however, Ortiz opted to be a cheerleader.
"I got worn out last year, man. I got so tired," Ortiz said (per MLB.com). "And I think it caught up with me later on during the season. I ran out of gas. It was the first time I feel like I was really tired. Well, I guess age is catching up with Papi. I just need to save my energy for the second half now. But I'm going to have fun."
There's no question Ortiz will have fun—that's how Papi rolls.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.