After just over three months of baseball we have hit the proverbial half-way mark of the season as Monday evening is the annual Home Run Derby, and Tuesday evening will bring us the 82nd All-Star Game. All events take place from Chase Field in Phoenix, the home park of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Eight players will take part in the Derby, four each from the American and National Leagues. Filling out the American League side will be the leading home run hitter at the break, Jose Bautista, Yankees second basemen Robinson Cano, and Boston Red Sox teammates Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz.
The National League side will also feature a pair of teammates, Milwaukee Brewers second basemen Rickie Weeks and first basemen Prince Fielder. Joining them will be Matt Holliday and Matt Kemp. For Ortiz, this marks his fifth appearance in the contest, and he will be defending his 2010 title. Fielder won the Derby in 2009, and will be making his third appearance, while Gonzalez and Holliday each have participated once. All others will be making their debuts.
As for predictions, I am taking Fielder to hit the most home runs. Being in the National League he is more familiar with the park than his counterparts from the American League. It surely won't mean much in a Home Run Derby, but it will be an added advantage. No player has won the Derby in a ballpark in the opposite league since Vladimir Guerrero won the 2007 Derby at AT&T Park in San Francisco, while he was a member of the Angels.
For a sleeper, I like Kemp of the Dodgers. He very well could surprise everyone with the most impressive display of the evening.
The fun gets started at 7 pm (CST), with coverage to be on ESPN. However, you may want to watch on mute, or you will be badgered with Chris Berman's "Back Back Back routine".