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Next Level preview of 2011 Home Run Derby

The 2011 Home Run Derby will take place at Chase Field Monday night. This year the event features simultaneous individual and team contests, as well as a roster of four American League and four National League sluggers selected by captains (and former Derby champions) David Ortiz of the AL and Prince Fielder of the NL.

Let’s take a closer look at the participants and their long-ball credentials heading into the annual slugfest.

American League:

David Ortiz

OrtizDavid Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

Season max: 54 in 2006

2011 HR: 19

Longest HR since 2006: May 14, 2010 at Comerica Park (459 feet)

450+ foot HR since 2006: 4

Derby experience: 2004 (three HR, eighth place), 2005 (20 HR, third place), 2006 (13 HR, fourth place), 2010 (32 HR, first place)

Adrian Gonzalez

GonzalezAdrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox

Season max: 40 in 2009

2011 HR: 17

Longest HR since 2006: April 26, 2009 at PETCO Park (471 feet)

450+ foot HR since 2006: 5

Derby experience: 2009 (two HR, seventh place)

Jose Bautista

Bautista

Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

Season max: 54 in 2010

2011 HR: 31

Longest HR since 2006: April 1, 2011 at Rogers Centre (456 feet)

450+ foot HR since 2006: 4

Derby experience: none

Robinson Cano

CanoRobinson Cano, New York Yankees

Season max: 29 in 2010

2011 HR: 15

Longest HR since 2006: June 16, 2010 at Yankee Stadium (451 feet)

450+ foot HR since 2006: 2

Derby experience: none

National League:

Prince Fielder

FielderPrince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

Season max: 50 in 2007

2011 HR: 22

Longest HR since 2006: April 29, 2011 at Minute Maid Park (486 feet)

450+ foot HR since 2006: 14

Derby experience: 2007 (three HR, sixth place), 2009 (23 HR, first place)

Rickie Weeks

WeeksRickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers

Season max: 29 in 2010

2011 HR: 17

Longest HR since 2006: September 20, 2007 at Turner Field (471 feet)

450+ foot HR since 2006: 4

Derby experience: none

Matt Holliday

Holliday

Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

Season max: 36 in 2007

2011 HR: 14

Longest HR since 2006: September 19, 2006 at Coors Field (498 feet)

450+ foot HR since 2006: 24

Derby experience: 2007 (13 HR, third place), 2010 (five HR, fifth place)

Matt Kemp

KempMatt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

Season max: 28 in 2010

2011 HR: 22

Longest HR since 2006: June 10, 2011 at Coors Field (458 feet)

450+ foot HR since 2006: 5

Derby experience: none

Predictions:

The AL and NL are remarkably balanced in terms of recent home run production - the four AL hitters have struck 79 home runs to the NL’s 73. The primary difference between the two leagues is in raw power, where the NL has a clear advantage: the NL’s four sluggers have combined for 47 home runs of more than 450 feet since 2006 (including 38 by Fielder and Holliday), compared to only 15 for the AL’s four representatives. The NL will exploit this advantage to win the team portion of the event this year.

For the individual title, I expect Ortiz, Bautista, Fielder and Kemp to pass on to the second round, with Bautista and Fielder slugging it out in the final. When the last ball has come to rest in the distant reaches of Chase Field, Prince Fielder will hoist the crossed-bats of the Home Run Derby Championship Trophy for the second time.