The Home Run Derby is one of the most exciting spectacles Major League Baseball has to offer, and even though this year's event will take place in a pitcher's park in the form of Citi Field, there is no question that plenty of mammoth shots will find the seats during Monday night's exhibition.
While a couple of the choices for this year's Derby are a bit questionable, some of the contestants have the potential to go on an unprecedented home run binge. Every guy in the field has a chance to come out on top, but a few heavy hitters are better built for this type of competition.
Here is a breakdown of the top contenders to watch during the upcoming Home Run Derby as the American and National Leagues battle for big fly supremacy.
Only Ken Griffey Jr. has managed to win the Home Run Derby three times, but Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder has a chance to accomplish that feat on Monday as well. Fielder's victories in 2009 and 2012 also make him the only multi-time winner in Home Run Derby history aside from Junior, according to the All-Star Game's official Twitter account.
Fielder knows how to win this competition, so he has to be considered the odds-on favorite heading in. Even though he isn't having the greatest first half of his career with a .270 batting average and 16 home runs, he has been a huge part of the Detroit offense with 69 RBI batting behind Miguel Cabrera. Besides, in-game play has very little to do with Home Run Derby success, as it is essentially a glorified batting practice session.
Few players in the game are more impressive than Fielder in batting practice. He is incredibly compact at 5'11" and 275 lbs, which allows him to explode through the ball and launch it to unseen heights.
Fielder has six straight seasons of 30 home runs or better to his credit, and he has never hit less than 28 taters over the course of a full season. He has all the credentials necessary to win, and everyone else figures to be chasing him.
In terms of raw power, few players in the game today can match Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez. "El Toro" is one of the most highly touted prospects to come through the Pirates system in a long time, and he hasn't disappointed.
Although Alvarez struggled a bit during the 2011 season, he bounced back with a 30-homer campaign last year, and he is well on pace to surpass that mark with 24 jacks at the break this season.
Hitting for average isn't exactly Alvarez's forte, as his career batting average at the major league level is just .240. That simply doesn't matter in the Home Run Derby, though, since anything that doesn't sail over the fence is an out anyway. Also, although a wall scraper counts as much as a gargantuan blast, no player in this year's Derby field has consistently hit longer home runs than Alvarez, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Alvarez has been a huge part of Pittsburgh's magical season thus far, so it would be fitting to see him win the Home Run Derby. The Pirates seem like a team of destiny, and Alvarez winning the Derby would be yet another feather in the organization's cap. Alvarez will have stiff competition, but he is built to succeed in this type of showcase.
Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has been a revelation this season, and winning the Home Run Derby would add another accolade to an already long list.
Davis bounced back last season with 33 home runs and 85 RBI after a few poor years, but he has somehow managed to surpass both of those totals already this year. The massive slugger is hitting .313 with 36 bombs and 89 RBI for the O's.
As the leading home run hitter in the major leagues this season, it would be silly to dismiss Davis' Derby chances. His power is so immense that sometimes it looked like he hit a routine fly ball only for it to clear the fence.
He is also capable of hitting home runs off the end of the bat, whereas most others need to hit the sweet spot. Despite Davis' home run prowess, his game plan is simple heading into the Home Run Derby, according to The Baltimore Sun on Twitter.
Davis' approach should help him at Citi Field since it isn't really a park that favors home run hitters. The fact that he makes it look so effortless could lead to some cheap homers, which his counterparts won't have the benefit of hitting.
Davis' hot hitting in real games may or may not translate to the Derby, but it would be crazy to bet against this guy with the way he's swinging the bat.
Complete Home Run Derby Field
|Robinson Cano||New York Yankees|
|Prince Fielder||Detroit Tigers|
|Chris Davis||Baltimore Orioles|
|Yoenis Cespedes||Oakland Athletics|
|David Wright||New York Mets|
|Pedro Alvarez||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Michael Cuddyer||Colorado Rockies|
|Bryce Harper||Washington Nationals|
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