Team Cano vs. Team Wright in Home Run Derby

Yankees 2B Robinson Cano (left) and Mets 3B David Wright lead the rosters of sluggers in this year's Home Run Derby.

Yankees 2B Robinson Cano (left) and Mets 3B David Wright lead the rosters of sluggers in this year’s Home Run Derby.

The 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star festivities kick off Monday night at New York’s Citi Field as eight of the best sluggers in the league participate in the Home Run Derby. Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, is known as one of the toughest parks for hitters in the major leagues, but recently underwent renovations to reduce the height of several outfield walls and to move right center field 17 feet closer to home plate. Still, Citi Field ranks as the most difficult park for hitters in 2013, and the eight stars below will have to bring their A games to win it all. 

Citi Field (Home of the New York Mets)

Opened: 2009

Dimensions: Left Field-335′, Left Center Field-358′, Center Field-408′, Right Center Field-375′, Right Field-330′

Team Cano (American League)

Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (.300 AVG, 21 HR in 2013)

Cano won the 2011 Home Run Derby in Arizona, but didn’t manage to record a home run in last year’s contest at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Still, Cano is 7th in the American League with 21 home runs this year, and will find the short 330-foot dimension down the right field line to his liking. Cano might make the second round, but there’s just too much talent in this Derby. 

Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (.315 AVG, 37 HR)

Nobody has had a hotter bat in the American League this year than Baltimore Orioles 1B Chris Davis. He leads the major leagues with 37 home runs this season. Davis is on pace for 62 home runs in 2013, and he has a chance to showcase his pure hitting skill in Monday night’s Derby. 

Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers (.267, 16 HR) 

Fielder, the defending Home Run Derby Champion, also won the 2009 Home Run Derby. He is one of two multiple time Derby Champions (w/ Ken Griffey Jr.), but don’t expect Fielder to repeat. He only has 16 long balls this year and he has struggled some at the plate. That short right center field wall will look appealing, though.

Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics (.223 AVG, 15 HR)

Cespedes is the most intriguing player on Team Cano’s roster. The 27-year-old Cuban is known for his hitting skill, but has only 15 home runs in 2013 after hitting 23 last year. He is a good ballplayer and hitter, and he definitely has the best name of the participants, but Cespedes might struggle Monday night. I’m not sure how much Home Run Derby practice he got in Cuba.

Team Wright (National League) 

David Wright, New York Mets (.304 AVG, 13 HR) 

He’s the hometown hero in this year’s Derby, but David Wright has only 13 home runs this season. He has opposite field power, which could help him with right center being moved closer to home plate, but Wright is a hometown pick, not the best hitter. No hometown player has won since 1990, and that trend will continue. 

Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies (.331 AVG, 16 HR) 

Cuddyer is second in the National League in batting average, but ranks 8th in home runs. He’s not at home in Colorado where the thin air makes the ball fly farther. Cuddyer is a good hitter, but won’t have the power to win in New York. 

Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates (.250 AVG, 24 HR) 

Originally, Carlos Gonzalez (leads the NL in HR) was supposed to participate. But when he was injured, Alvarez (second in the NL in HR) replaced him in the lineup. And rightfully so. Alvarez is a major reason for the success of the Pirates in the first half of 2013, and Pittsburgh deserves a slugger in the Derby. He could be a real threat at Citi Field. 

Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (.264 AVG, 13 HR)

Harper isn’t the most popular player for Phillies fans like myself, but I believe the Nationals center fielder will win the 2013 Home Run Derby. Harper is known for his power at the plate, and though he only has 13 home runs this year, he is still a dangerous hitter. His pure, compact swing is great for making solid contact, and he will give the fans in the right field seats plenty of souvenirs. Harper is known for his Home Run Derby skills, hitting home runs of more than 500 feet at Tropicana Field as a high school sophomore. 

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