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Predicting second-half power numbers

Updated: July 6, 2012, 3:36 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

Let's be politically correct here: Everyone digs the home run. Sure, fantasy owners also like the .333 hitters and top stolen base guys, and overrate the relief pitchers who end up with the saves, but when it comes to the home run, it's universally loved. On Monday night in Kansas City, eight interesting home run hitters will gather with ESPN's cameras noting every move in the latest Home Run Derby.

Yeah, this competition doesn't have any effect on the big league standings, and there's always room for debate about who gets to participate. But I'm a fan, and I admit it wasn't solely because I was lucky enough to be watching in awe from the Yankee Stadium stands the night Josh Hamilton delivered an incredible show in 2008. I remember the early derbies as well, the one when Wally Joyner tied Darryl Strawberry for the title in 1986, the Eric Davis-Ruben Sierra contest in 1989, feeling badly for Greg Vaughn when he couldn't hit one out in Philly in 1996, and marveling at Bobby Abreu's record-breaking performance in Detroit seven years ago. Hey, it doesn't have to count for your fantasy team to be interesting and worth watching!

Anyway, in recent seasons I have predicted the final home run totals for the derby contestants with, of course, varying degrees of success, which I don't mind admitting. This isn't an exact science. I think we all know Jose Bautista has skills, but this year I'm going to adjust this blog entry a tad to list all the players I think will bash 35 or more home runs in 2012. I mean, all the derby contestants are universally owned anyway, but perhaps you want to sell high, or you don't buy into what a certain Minnesota Twin is doing -- whatever. Anyway, these players will all reach 35 home runs, in order:

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