Blame the designated hitter.
In last season’s new-look Home Run Derby, the American League absolutely dominated the National League, blasting 76 homers to a measly 19. While the NL will look to make 2012 a year of revenge, they’ll only get blown out of the water once again.
The AL is loaded. Their captain, Robinson Cano, is the reigning derby champion. He hit a whopping 32 bombs last year, which is the third-highest mark in the history of the contest.
The NL’s captain also participated last year, but he didn’t fare as well, to say the least. Matt Kemp recorded just two long balls in the event. That matchup isn’t the AL’s only advantage, though—not even close.
They boast the Home Run Derby favorite, Jose Bautista. He’s tied for the league lead in homers with 27 this season. According to Covers, he’s a +350 betting favorite.
And on that note, Las Vegas also believes the AL will embarrass the NL. This is the betting order from the most likely to win the derby to the least likely: Bautista, Cano, Mark Trumbo, Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gonzalez and Kemp. Yeah, it just so happens that every AL batter is projected to finish stronger than every NL batter (odds weren’t provided for Andrew McCutchen).
It isn’t any surprise who’s favored if you look at the numbers. The AL’s quartet boasts a total of 84 home runs this season. Comparatively, the NL has hit 69.
Sure, it’s a bit unfair to compare the squads given that Kemp has only played 34 games this season due to injury. But considering that Kemp is still injured, that’s yet another red flag signaling an NL blowout. Throw in the fact that he’s the only player on his crew with any home run derby experience, and the odds just keep piling up in the AL’s favor.
Just imagine if they had Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn ready to swing. The AL will destroy the NL on Monday night, but the outcome will be merciful compared to what it could’ve been.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.