Robinson Cano (Captain)
Last year's AL captain is back for more, hoping to erase any memory of his homerless performance at in Kansas City last summer (much to the delight of Royals fans who mercilessly booed him for omitting Billy Butler from the squad). With his picture-perfect swing, there's no way he comes up empty again. His 21 long balls have him tied for seventh in the Junior Circuit with Adrian Beltre and put him on pace to soar past his career high of 33, which he set in 2012.
The major league home run leader has already left the yard 36 times in 2013, homering once every 9.4 at-bats. That puts him on track to threaten Roger Maris's "real" single season home run record of 61, disregarding the enhanced figures compiled by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. The way he's been hitting lately he'll probably steamroll everyone and mash his way to victory.
Few players have more raw power than Cespedes, who belted 23 big flies as a rookie last year and has 15 so far this season. He can hit the ball out of a canyon, and his home run totals would be more impressive if he played somewhere else besides the Coliseum, where he's hit just five home runs this year (one every 25.8 at-bats there compared to one per 17.5 everywhere else). With that in mind, I expect the slugging sophomore to put on a show and make a serious run at this year's trophy.
Only two men have ever won multiple home run derbies: Ken Griffey Jr. and Cecil Fielder's son. If the reigning champ wins again this year, he'll become the first man to win the event three times. Fielder's having a down year (for him), but that didn't stop him from winning the competition last year. .
Notable Absences: Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera
David Wright (Captain)
Mr. Met is here more for the hometown fans than for his home run hitting abilities; he has the lowest home run total of the contestants with 13. Citi Field isn't doing Wright any favors (just three circuit drives there this year), but he's always been more of a gap hitter anyways. He hasn't topped 30 bombs in a season since 2008 and averaged just 18 per year since then. Wright was runner-up to Ryan Howard in 2006, so he has the potential to turn it on so long as he doesn't try too hard to impress the fans.
If Harper's electrifying exhibition at Tropicana Field is any indication, he's going to shine in his first derby appearance. The 20 year-old phenom isn't phased by the spotlight and could be primed for a coming out party a la Josh Hamilton's '08 performance at the Stadium.
A curious selection by Wright, who has defended his choice by pointing to the roots he shares with Cuddyer. With 15 home runs and the league's ninth best AB/HR rate he's not a bad choice, but I would've preferred to see Wright select a power hitter of higher stature like Jay Bruce, Domonic Brown or Justin Upton. I'd bet most fans aren't tuning in to see Cuddyer, who's not exactly a household name and has just one 30 homer season on his resume. I think he's the least likely to win and has early exit written all over him.
The NL equivalent of Davis, Alvarez broke out last year and is on his way to an even better season this year. He owns the best AB/HR ratio in in the Senior Circuit and ranks second home runs with 24, just one fewer than Carlos Gonzalez, the man he's replacing. An all-or-nothing hitter, Alvarez has accumulated 108 strikeouts while knocking nearly one-third of his fly balls over the fence.
Notable Absences: Bruce, Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton
My pick: Cespedes over Harper