The Home Run Derby is a rare chance for the game's top sluggers to let loose and worry about nothing but hitting the ball as far as humanly possible. Nobody is more prepared for that after the first half than Baltimore Orioles star Chris Davis.
The breakout sensation, who had a solid season in 2012 but has already reached a completely different level in 2013, highlights the eight-player field. David Wright and Robinson Cano will also attract a lot of attention while swinging for the fences in New York.
Since the All-Star Game matters for home-field advantage in the World Series, the derby is the one opportunity for players to relax and enjoy the moment. So let's check out all the important information for the contest, followed by a list of participants and a look at the top contenders.
Where: Citi Field in Flushing, N.Y.
When: Monday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com
Participants (via Sporting News)
|American||Robinson Cano||New York Yankees|
|American||Yoenis Cespedes||Oakland Athletics|
|American||Chris Davis||Baltimore Orioles|
|American||Prince Fielder||Detroit Tigers|
|National||Pedro Alvarez||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|National||Michael Cuddyer||Colorado Rockies|
|National||Bryce Harper||Washington Nationals|
|National||David Wright||New York Mets|
One thing Davis displayed since his rookie season was tremendous raw power. Although it took several years for everything else to fall into place for the Orioles' budding superstar, something finally clicked last year and he's turned into a major force at the plate.
If someone would have said before the season he would approach 40 home runs, it wouldn't have been an outrageous prediction. But the fact he approached that number before the All-Star break is astonishing. An amazing run to say the least.
The biggest key for Davis in the derby is avoiding the tendency to swing too hard. He's got a sweet, seemingly effortless swing that's allowed him to crush the ball all season. He can't change his approach just because of the competition.
Fielder's credentials ensure he's one of the top contenders on Monday night. The Tigers first baseman has already won the trophy twice (2009 and 2012) and has crushed at least 28 home runs in every season since 2006.
None of those accomplishments come as a surprise, of course. He combines extreme power with a swing built to win the Home Run Derby. And when he connects on the sweet spot, the ball tends to fly a very, very long way.
The one thing working to his advantage is the experience. While it might not seem like much, understanding things like how to pace yourself throughout the contest is key. Nobody should be shocked if he goes back-to-back.
Harper doesn't shy away from the pressure. In fact, the 20-year-old Nationals outfielder seems to embrace the spotlight. Enjoying the spotlight bodes well for his chances in the derby despite having less than 40 career homers over a season and a half.
Sometimes it's easy to forget how young he is because of the constant hype that's followed him around in recent years. Over time, he will become one of the league's premier power hitters and become a Home Run Derby stalwart, if he chooses to keep participating.
The only question is whether or not he's ready to win this year. He possesses the power and won't mind the attention. But it's not an easy competition to win. The experience will help him in future contests, even if he falls short this time around.