The Home Run Derby is an easy target for purists to take shots at, but it is a fun distraction amidst a long season.
While my fascination with the long ball has receded since my days as a child fan, it is still fun to watch the best sluggers in the game crank out long balls.
In fact, I'm still excited enough about it to offer up my predictions for the event. I'll do that below, but first check out the lineups and the vitals for catching the action.
The Twitter page for ESPN's Baseball Tonight colorfully passed along the participants:
Where: Citi Field, New York, NY
When: Monday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Bryce Harper Will Have Memorable First Round
With a batting line of 274/.375/.549, 13 home runs, 29 RBI and seven doubles, Bryce Harper's stats are not overwhelming. Of course, a large part of this is attributed to the fact that he has been limited by injury and has played in just 51 games.
However, he will silence anyone doubting his legitimacy for being in this competition.
The 20-year-old plays with confidence beyond his years, and with his sweet swing, it is well-founded. He also plays with high intensity, and you better believe he will be anxious to put on a memorable show.
Harper will explode out of the gates by hitting double digits in home runs in the first round. Some of those the lefty will deposit into the upper deck of the overhanging right field porch at Citi Field.
While I expect Harper to have the lead after the first round, he will wear himself out, and sputter in Round 2. That will leave him on the outside looking in on the championship round.
Prince Fielder Will Fall Just Short of Defending His Title
Prince Fielder knows how to put on a show at the Home Run Derby. He belted 28 last year at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City to beat out Jose Bautista for the title.
Fielder was swinging the stick better last year, though. His 15 home runs in 87 games played is close to the pace of the 30 he hit last year, but his batting average of .266 is noticeably lower than the .313 he possessed last season.
In the end, I think we can throw most of these stats out the window. When Fielder digs in and swings from his heels, balls are going to leave the yard...if not the state.
Fielder will put on a show, and he will do so with the consistency needed to make the finals. However, it won't be enough to best the next slugger on this list.
Chris Davis Will Win and His Total Will Be Greater Than His Number For the Rest of the Season
After belting a major league leading 33 home runs, Chris Davis is still falling a bit under the radar. This is just the nature of baseball. The majority of fans spend the regular season paying attention to their team of choice.
This isn't to say people haven't noticed Davis wracking up five more home runs than anyone in baseball, but checking stat leaders and watching someone blast a 450-foot home run are two different things.
I mention all of this to highlight the fact that this will be a coming out party for Davis. While the national stage may make him a bit nervous at first, he will settle in and flash his natural home-run swing.
Davis will win this event by belting 29 home runs, and that number will be greater than the amount he will hit the rest of the way.
Davis will cool off a bit in the second half of the season. I wouldn't be surprised if he fell short of hitting 50, and I'm confident in saying he won't break 60.
However, he will wow us all in the derby.
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