MLB 2011 Home Run Derby: Handicapping David Ortiz and the Rest of the Field
With the teams selected and first swing just days away, it's time to handicap the 2011 Home Run Derby field.
This year's edition brings an interesting element of competition, as the American League and National League will compete against one another for the first time.
National League captain Prince Fielder (2009 Home Run Derby winner) hand-picked St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Brewers teammate Ricky Weeks to represent the NL.
David Ortiz, the American League captain (2010 Home Run Derby winner) responded by selecting Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, and fellow Red Sox bopper Adrian Gonzalez.
Given the combined pedigrees of this year's participants, the 2011 Home Run Derby is certain to be one of the more entertaining editions of the past few years.
In order from last to first, here are the projected results of this year's competition.
8. Matt Holliday
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
2011 Home Runs: 10
The 2011 Home Run Derby will mark Matt Holliday's third time in the competition. In his two previous efforts, 2007 and 2010, Holliday hit a combined 18 home runs.
Take into account that current champion David Ortiz hit 21 home runs in his first two rounds in 2010, and you can begin to see the talent gap that Holliday must overcome to be relevant in this year's competition.
Not to mention, Holliday's power outage so far this season has been rather alarming, and won't bode well for his confidence heading into Monday night's competition.
7. Adrian Gonzalez
Bob Levey/Getty Images
2011 Home Runs: 16
In his only other Home Run Derby appearance in 2009, Adrian Gonzalez hit an underwhelming two home runs. two.
Given the fact that there are two past champions in this year's group, combined with the reigning MLB home run king, Gonzalez's prospects are looking quite grim heading into the Derby.
Not to mention, Gonzalez is a notorious opposite-field hitter, even for power.
That bodes poorly for him at Chase Field, where the dimensions are 330 feet down the left field line before jetting out to 407 feet in left center.
In other words, he'll be a long way from Fenway Park and the Green Monster he's grown so fond of.
6. Robinson Cano
Al Bello/Getty Images
2011 Home Runs: 14
There's no denying that Robinson Cano is one of the best pure hitters in baseball.
But he's not a power hitter, especially when you consider his home run totals are inflated by Yankee Stadium's Williamsport-esque dimensions. Rather, Cano is an excellent line-drive hitter whose hard-hit balls sometimes benefit from the Stadium's short right field porch (314 feet).
Cano also lacks the approach of a pure power hitter, something that could hurt him in this competition.
With his line-drive swing, it's tough to see Cano keeping pace with this year's field.
5. Rickie Weeks
Al Bello/Getty Images
2011 Home Runs: 15
Surprised to see Rickie Weeks this high on the list? Well, you shouldn't be.
Weeks' game is built for the Home Run Derby. He's an excellent power hitter, perhaps the most underrated in all of baseball.
Clearly, being a power hitter doesn't always translate into Derby success. But Weeks has a repetitive home run swing that over the course of a few rounds could translate into quite a few long balls.
4. Matt Kemp
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
2011 Home Runs: 22
Matt Kemp is in the middle of putting together a historic season in Los Angeles.
He has a realistic chance to add to his already impressive 2011 as he embarks on his quest for the 2011 Home Run Derby title.
Kemp possesses the ability to hit the ball with authority to all fields, which should translate well for him as a right-handed hitter at Chase Field.
3. Prince Fielder
Al Bello/Getty Images
2011 Home Runs: 21
Prior to his 2009 Home Run Derby title, Fielder put up less than impressive numbers in his Derby debut in 2007.
There, he hit just three home runs.
Obviously that could be chalked up to it being his first time in a competition in which experience is integral.
He's one of the best power hitters MLB has to offer, but can Fielder prove that his '09 title wasn't a fluke?
2. Jose Bautista
Brad White/Getty Images
2011 Home Runs: 28
Can the legend of Jose "Joey Bats" Bautista continue to grow?
After seemingly coming out of oblivion to hit 54 home runs in 2010, Bautista has given us a follow-up act to the tune of 28 first-half home runs.
With every home run he hits, more and more people are becoming convinced that he's the best power hitter in baseball today...and who can blame them?
Jose comes in at No. 2 on this list due to his lack of experience in the Derby, but man oh man, who else can't wait for his turn to hit on Monday night?
It's certain to be July 4th fireworks a week late.
1. David Ortiz
2011 Home Runs: 17
As the reigning Home Run Derby champ along with the season he's putting together, it's a no-brainer that David Oritz is the favorite to win this competition.
The American League captain will look to follow up last year's 32 home runs with another homer-happy spectacle.
Given his experience in the competition (this will be his fifth Home Run Derby) and the way Ortiz is swinging the bat of late, he could very well be the Derby's first repeat champ since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1999.