The undercard to the Midsummer Classic, the Home Run Derby, hits the airwaves tonight at 8 p.m. (EST) on ESPN, and even if the annual event isn't quite baseball at it's finest, it should make for an entertaining few hours.
This year's lineup is pretty diverse.
The biggest bopper is Jose Bautista, last year's MLB home run champ and the only player with 30 or more home runs in baseball at the All-Star break.
But he's likely to see serious competition from a handful of bit names—after all it's rare that the man leading the majors in home runs actually wins the Derby.
Prince Fielder, the Milwaukee Brewers power hitter should give Bautista a run, as should the Boston Red Sox duo of Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. Resurgent switch-hitter, Lance Berkman, also figures to make some noise, given that this is his fifth Derby appearance, his first not as a member of the Houston Astros. Berkman's St. Louis Cardinals teammate Matt Holiday, will also be making a repeat appearance.
Still, it's some of the younger newcomers who should be the story.
Twenty-six-year-old Matt Kemp, third in the NL in homers, can give Dodgers fans a bright spot in an otherwise dreary 2011 season.
Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks also makes his Derby debut tonight—it would seem some of Prince Fielder's power has rubbed off on the 28-year-old second baseman who set a new career record with 29 homers last season and is tied for ninth in the NL with 17 dingers.
And then there is Man of the Hour, Derek Jeter's double-play mate, Robinson Cano, whose not regarded as much of a power threat, but is on pace for his first 30 home run season in his seven year career.
So who is going to win out—experience or youth? Derby veterans like Fielder and Ortiz may have won this event before, but I'll take one of the newbies to step forward. And since the only lefty in that group is Cano, I like his odds.