2013 Home Run Derby: Ranking Sluggers with Best Chance of Winning
Get your popcorn ready.
There are few events as tailor-made to entertain as the MLB Home Run Derby. Everyone—chicks included—digs the long ball.
Unlike the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, you know you're going to see results in the Derby. There's virtually no possibility of the 2013 Home Run Derby failing to deliver on what's promised. Fans get to see some of baseball's best sluggers swinging for the fences. What can go wrong?
Here are the four players with the best chance of taking home the crown. The rankings are based on 2013 performance, overall power and, if applicable, previous history in the event.
1. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper isn't the kind of guy you think of as a prolific home run hitter. You know he has power, but Harper is a more well-rounded hitter who doesn't step to the plate with the sole purpose of hitting home runs.
Since it's nothing but glorified batting practice, the Home Run Derby is the perfect place for Harper to show that he has the ability to go yard on just about any at-bat.
This is a guy who was hitting tape-measure home runs in high school. While that was with aluminum bats and against high-school pitching, it's still a pretty nice accomplishment that establishes what kind of strength Harper has.
James Wagner of The Washington Post reported Harper will have his dad, Ron, throwing to him at the Derby, which should only increase Harper's comfort level on the big stage.
2. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
Here's a contestant who's been there before. Prince Fielder has won the Home Run Derby twice, in 2009 and 2012.
There's a lot to be said for that.
There can be some long breaks in the event. A guy can go out there and look great, hitting 10 or 12 home runs, then have to sit for 30-45 minutes, get cold and struggle when he comes back.
Fielder knows how to handle these extended breaks and how to save his energy throughout the competition.
You just have to look at the numbers to understand Fielder's power. In six of his eight seasons in the majors, he's hit at least 30 home runs. While he's only hit 16 so far in 2013, that's not so much a statement on Fielder's power, considering he's batting behind Miguel Cabrera and has walked 50 times this season.
3. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates
If Pedro Alvarez didn't have power, he probably wouldn't be in the league. Luckily for him and the Pittsburgh Pirates, he does.
Alvarez has 24 home runs in 2013, tied for fifth in the majors. More than just the total itself, though, it's the strength behind the homers that's so impressive, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Pedro Alvarez added as NL Home Run Derby participant. Alvarez has 3 440+-ft HR this season. No other HR Derby participant has more than one.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 12, 2013
Being a first-timer could hurt Alvarez. Unlike Chris Davis, though, he's not coming in burdened by expectations. People are expecting some bombs from Alvarez, but few predict that he'll win. That lack of pressure should help him in getting down to business.
If he gets into a groove, Alvarez will put on a show.
4. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Which of these sluggers has the best chance of winning the Derby?
Much like Harper, Robinson Cano isn't the kind of player you think of as a pure home run hitter. He won the 2011 Home Run Derby, though, and has hit at least 25 home runs in his last four full seasons.
As with Fielder, Cano should benefit from having been in and won the Home Run Derby before. He knows how to handle the breaks and conserve his energy for the later rounds.
Cano should also be able to enjoy a somewhat warm response from the fans. Although the competition is at Citi Field, there will likely be a fair amount of New York Yankees fans in attendance. Plus, anything will be an improvement on Cano's Home Run Derby win in Kansas City, where he was roundly booed for not selecting Billy Butler.
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