Why the Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder Will Win the 2012 Home Run Derby
Prince Fielder was born to hit home runs.
The Home Run Derby was made for guys like Fielder, and even though he enters the 2012 competition with the second-fewest first half home runs among the eight participants, Fielder will win this year's contest.
Fielder is hitting .299 with 15 home runs and 63 RBI in his first season with the Tigers but started the season considerably slower than expected. He suffered through a mediocre April, but his average began to perk up in May.
Now the power numbers are starting to come, too.
Fielder has hit five home runs in his last 18 games and has three in the last four games. Being in the American League for the first time, Fielder is looking as comfortable as ever in the batter's box.
He is even more comfortable in a competition where the goal is to hit the cover off the ball.
He hits most of his home runs into the spacious right field seats of Comerica Park. He will have no problem hitting the ball over the 330-feet fences in right field at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium.
Here are five reasons Fielder will win the 2012 Home Run Derby.
Fielder knows how to win this competition.
In 2009, Fielder hit 23 home runs—including 11 in the first round—at the St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium and was crowned champion.
Fielder, who made his Home Run Derby debut in 2007, is making his fourth appearance in the annual slugfest. He went into his competition debut at San Francisco's AT&T Park with 29 home runs on the season. Though the Derby favorite, Fielder bowed out in the first round with a disappointing three home runs.
He was the National League team captain last year at Chase Field in Phoenix, but was eliminated from the Derby after compiling only nine homers in the first two rounds.
But this year, Fielder, who goes into the Derby as a rare underdog, will have a breakout performance.
He'll be receiving pitches from Sandy Guerrero, the same pitcher who threw to him in 2009 when he won the event.
He will find a way to gut out a win this year.
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All the preliminary analysis about the 2012 Derby field holds that this is one of the strongest groups, top to bottom, in a long time.
But Fielder's only competition this year is defending champion, New York Yankees second baseman, Robinson Cano.
Fielder and Cano are joined by two other American League participants, Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays) and Mark Trumbo (Los Angeles Angels), and National League competitors, Carlos Beltran (St. Louis Cardinals), Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies), Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates), who was recently named the replacement for Giancarlo Stanton.
Gonzalez is a phenomenal hitter and a five-tool player, and he has 17 home runs. But because he hits the ball to all fields, he won't do well in the Home Run Derby.
Kemp is battling a lower-body injury that won't allow him to win the Derby.
He has 12 home runs this season, but in only 36 games, as he's been sidelined since May 30 with a strained left hamstring. The NL team captain has elected to participate in the Derby but won't play in the All-Star Game.
Beltran is 35 years old and—despite boasting 22 home runs already this season—doesn't have the prototypical home run swing needed to win this competition.
Bautista was a favorite to win last year but was eliminated after the first round with only four homers. After slugging 27 long balls in just over 300 at-bats so far this season, he's a favorite for the Derby again, but will have similar struggles this year.
Trumbo is competing in his first Home Run Derby, and he will contend for the title but won't win it.
He has 20 home runs at the halfway point this season, but a right-handed hitter hasn't won the competition in four years. Because Trumbo has a tendency to swing out of his shoes, fatigue will become a factor, and he won't last.
McCutchen is also a first-time competitor, and although he has 16 home runs this year, there's a reason he wasn't originally selected to compete in the Derby: He isn't a prototypical home-run hitter.
Expect him to run out of gas in the marathon event.
Perfect Home Run Swing
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Fielder was built for the Home Run Derby, and his violent swing is perfect for this competition.
He's got the perfect jackknife swing and lightning quick hands that generate an asinine amount of bat speed.
From 2006 to 2011, Fielder crushed 200 home runs, averaging more than 33 long balls per season. Although he's a very good hitter, the 275-pounder doesn't enter the batter's box with the mentality that he's going to get a base hit.
Fielder steps into the box, looking to hit the ball out of the park.
Fielder's only hit 15 home runs this season, but when he connects, the ball goes a long way. According to ESPN's home run tracker, Fielder has averaged over 410 feet per home run this year.
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It takes consistency to get through four rounds of a Home Run Derby, and Fielder is as consistent as they come.
Despite tipping the scales at 275 pounds, Fielder has played in a staggering 592 of the last 593 possible games. He's played in all 86 games for the Tigers this season and played in all but one game in his last three seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Most hitters in the Derby will have a good round or two but eventually run out of gas.
Hitters whose swings aren't as typically violent as Fielder's, tend to get tired during the competition because, with their normal swing, they're usually not aiming for the fences on every pitch they see.
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It's common knowledge that chicks dig the long ball, right?
Fielder is one of the best long-ball hitters in baseball, and he backs up his ability with a swagger to match.
You need a little bit of swagger to win this kind of competition. All eyes are on one player whose trying to hit the ball over the fence.
Fielder has shown a gleaming personality his whole career, which lends itself to this kind of competition. Fielder likes the big moments and performs better when the lights are the brightest.
He's competed in the Home Run Derby several times and knows what it takes to win.