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Handicapping the Home Run Derby
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The grass is cut, the lines are freshly painted ... so what in the world are we all waiting for? Let's start hitting some balls out of the park!

Well, at spacious Citi Field, that's no easy task. But if anybody is up to the challenge, it's Chris Davis. He leads a field of eight competitors including two former champions in this year's Chevrolet Home Run Derby.

We'll have to wait until Monday to find out who wins but here's an early look at who might come out on top.

Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees: Cano may have the prettiest swing in this year's field. He's also a former champion, having won the contest back in 2011. That year he mashed 32 long balls, tied for third-most in the Derby's 28-year history.

That's the good news. The bad news is that Cano was a total disaster at last year's Derby, failing to knock a single ball out of the stadium in 10 tries.

Cano is too good a hitter to go two straight years without a home run. Just don't expect all the Mets fans in attendance to make it easy for him.

Chance of winning: 15 percent

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Oakland Athletics: You all know the famous Chris Berman catchphrase, "back, back, back!" I'm not sure three "backs" will suffice when Cespedes gets a hold of one Monday night.

Cespedes is a bull. He doesn't make contact too often (.221 AVG this season) but when he does, you know it's going places.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Cespedes bops the longest hit of the night. But does he have the endurance to keep it going for all three rounds? I don't think so.

Chance of winning: 8 percent

Michael Cuddyer, OF, Colorado Rockies: Cuddyer's inclusion in the Derby is a bit of a mystery to me.

Listen, I like Cuddyer (.337, 15 HR, 52 RBI). A lot. How could I not? The guy's a former New Britain Rock Cat. Anyone who reps the 860 is okay in my book.

But is a guy who only has three 20-homer seasons to his credit (keep in mind, he's been in the league since 2001) really deserving of a spot in the Derby? Probably not.

I'll be rooting for him but I doubt Cuddyer makes it out of the first round.

Chance of winning: 2 percent

Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles: Let's get one thing straight. Crush Davis is unstoppable.

If there is another man in this universe who can repeat what Josh Hamilton did at the 2008 Derby that human being is Chris Davis. He's already on pace for 58 homers this season, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since Ryan Howard hit that exact amount back in 2006.

My only concern with Davis is experience. Davis has never been to the Derby, nor has he ever been to the All-Star Game. And he's only been to Citi Field on one other occasion (he went hitless in eight at bats).

There's so much to do at All-Star week and so little time to do it. Celebrity softball games with Kate Upton, shenanigans with Big Papi, eating contests with John Kruk. It's exhausting.

If Davis makes this trip about business, I'm confident he can win the Derby. If he's just there to goof around, he may have to settle for second or third.

Chance of winning: 17 percent

Prince Fielder, 1B, Detroit Tigers: Prince Fielder is good at many things. Wearing sunglasses, eating veggie burgers, braiding his hair in exotic ways. But there's nothing he's better at than hitting home runs.

Sometimes I feel like this contest was invented for Fielder. He's one of just two players to win the Derby more than once and with a victory Monday, he'll tie Ken Griffey Jr. for the most wins in Derby history (three).

Prince needs 14 homers to tie David Ortiz for the most home runs in contest history. I say he gets the 14 homers and then some. Better start making room in that trophy case, big fella.

Chance of winning: 23 percent

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies: It's amazing that the Rockies are still four games under .500 despite having two players in the Home Run Derby. And it might have been three if Troy Tulowitzki had been healthy when David Wright chose the lineup.

CarGo leads the NL in home runs (24) but his stats are partially inflated by the fact that he plays half of his games in Colorado.

At Coors Field, balls that would normally travel to the warning track are pushed out because of Denver's thin air. That cushion doesn't exist at Citi Field.

Gonzalez did reasonably well at last year's contest (four homers in Round 1) but I can't seem him finishing higher than fourth or fifth this time around.

Chance of winning: 12 percent

Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals: When Harper steps to the plate Monday night, he'll become the second-youngest player to ever compete in the Home Run Derby (Ken Griffey Jr. was younger when he made his first appearance in 1989).

Harper is going to be one of the fan favorites at the event and I'm sure he'll be looking to put on a show. With 33 at bats at Citi Field over the past two seasons, he's about as familiar with the territory as anyone in the contest.

I fear that Harper's emotions could get in the way of his success on Monday. He strikes me as the type of player who would get really frustrated after a few bad swings and that's not a good quality to have in the Derby.

This one's a coin flip. Harper could be great or he could get mad and start chasing Tim Kurjkian around the field with a Louisville Slugger.

Chance of winning: 10 percent

David Wright, 3B, New York Mets: There's a reason they call it home field advantage. Wright knows every nook and cranny of Citi Field and the stadium is going to be packed with Mets fans wearing his jersey.

Wright has done fairly well in this contest in years past, finishing second to Ryan Howard back in 2006.

That was a while ago, though. These days, Wright is more of a singles and doubles hitter. There's a chance he could get hot but he's not my pick to win it all.

Chance of winning: 13 percent

The A.L. has claimed the winner in five out of the last six contests. Let's see if they can make it six out of seven.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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