Pre-Derby Notebook: Orioles' Chris Davis the favorite at 2013 Home Run Derby
Eight sluggers, four from each league, will take aim at the fences in what is one of the bigger parks in Major League Baseball, all in the name of charity and individual bragging rights.
Obviously, captains Robinson Cano and David Wright hope to walk away the victors, but if one of their teammates walks away victorious, then they also get a feel-good bonus, as Chevrolet and MLB will donate $150,000 to the charity of that team captain's choice in their name.
Cano and the American League squad -- defending-champion Prince Fielder and newcomers Chris Davis and Yoenis Cespedes -- will be playing for Robinson's RC24 Foundation, and the Yankees second baseman hopes he'll have his good luck charm on the mound once again in his father, Jose.
"Hopefully we are going to put on a good show for the fans," Cano said at this afternoon's press conference.
Beyond the current home run king and defending Derby champ, Cano has a curious fourth in Cespedes. The Cuban slugger has 15 home runs but isn't an All-Star in 2013, and the captain said his selection was made to share the wealth for someone who otherwise would be watching from home.
"I asked some guys who weren't available, so I thought, let me choose somebody that's not an All-Star so he can get an opportunity to be here," Cano said. "I called Yoenis and he accepted."
"I'm very proud to be here and to represent all the Latin players," Cespedes added, noting that he also wishes Cuban countryman Yasiel Puig could have been here as well.
With that, it all comes down to predictions, and after polling several American League players, it seems the favorite is Davis. Of course, teammate Chris Tillman chose the current MLB home run leader, but Toronto's Steve Delabar and Cleveland's Justin Masterson both also chose Davis.
"I gotta go with the guy that's leading," Delabar said matter-of-factly, with Masterson adding that "Davis is doing his thing. He's got that swing where he's killing it in the game, and I imagine that has to carry over to BP too. His swing is so easy, he hit a homer off me where it looked like he didn't even swing, and he hit it three miles."
Defending champ Fielder got the most love of the runner-ups, with two huge votes of confidence from AL Central players.
"The guy knows what he's doing. I've seen him in BP before we've played them, I've seen it in games. He's my pick," said Cleveland's Jason Kipnis. White Sox hurler Chris Sale added that "if I was a betting man -- which I'm not -- I'd like Prince, because he's won it in the past and he hits it a long way, but I think Bryce Harper is going to be the most fun to watch."
Davis may be the odds-on favorite based on his home run totals, but he said that doesn't add any pressure on him to perform, as he just wants the fans to be happy.
"I don't think so. I just think like everybody else, I want to put on a good show and I want the fans to have a really good time and enjoy it," Davis said. "It's a big ballpark and we just want to put on a good show."
And as for what one member of the media called the "old wives' tale" that the Home Run Derby messes up a player's swing?
"I kind of swing the same way anyway, so it doesn't matter to me," said the defending champion.
Hometown hero Wright added his own synopsis: "Robbie and Prince seemed to have pretty good years after they won the Home Run Derby. It's three rounds of BP, so I think it's just a myth."
And with that, let the big fly bonanza begin.