Monday is the 2013 MLB Home Run Derby from Citi Field in New York City, and while the All-Star festivities are always amazing, this year’s show will feature several unheralded stars ready to shine bright.
All of the following home run derby contestants haven’t received the mainstream publicity they deserve but will prove during All-Star weekend how valuable each is to his respective team and to Major League Baseball.
Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles have the breakout star of 2013 on their roster, as first baseman Chris Davis has blossomed into the top power hitter in the league.
With a league-leading 37 home runs before the All-Star break, it’s time for Davis to come out on the national stage and force even the most casual baseball fans to appreciate how much talent he possesses.
American League team captain and New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano made the easy selection adding Davis to the home run derby roster, and it will pay off huge as the Baltimore slugger will thrive under pressure.
The only hope for Orioles fans is that the contest doesn’t screw up Davis’ swing for the second half of the season.
Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates could be the most underestimated franchises in the league right now, and one of the reasons the team has been so dangerous is because of the powerful swing from third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
After posting 30 home runs in his third season, Alvarez has come up huge in 2013 with 24 home runs already. As long as his swing isn’t impacted by participating in the derby, there is little doubt that he will set a career high for home runs before the season is over.
National League team captain David Wright originally chose Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, but after CarGo rejected the offer, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post, it was Alvarez that received the nod.
Now, Alvarez will be hitting with a chip on his shoulder, too.
Yoenis Cespedes, LF, Athletics
Cuban star Yoenis Cespedes has struggled in his second season with the Oakland Athletics, but the unbridled power of the left fielder is still there, as he has registered 15 home runs in just 78 games.
Cano gets to see the power of the other hitters in the American League all the time. After waiting to name the final participant, it was finally confirmed that despite not making the All-Star game, Cespedes was the final combatant.
Cespedes is in the midst of a serious sophomore slump—batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and almost every other statistical category are well below last-year’s pace—but the power is still present every time the Oakland star steps to the plate.
While Cano’s selection of Cespedes was risky, it could payoff huge for the AL.