By C. Trent Rosecrans
Prince Fielder and David Ortiz have picked their teams for next week's Home Run Derby, and while all the picks are good, I'd pick a different squad.
If I were in Fielder's or Ortiz's shoes, here's who I'd pick:
Wily Mo Pena, Diamondbacks: Five of Wily Mo's eight hits have reached the seats. He's struck out 17 times and hasn't walked, but that's real baseball. This is the Home Run Derby -- few can hit them as far as Pena -- especially when they're all straight and all in the strike zone. You know who agrees with me? The American League captain. Ortiz was asked about adding Pena and told WEEI.com, "That's not good. We would lose right away."
Check out this homer at Comerica Park -- which is hardly a bandbox.
Mike Stanton, Marlins: Like Pena, Stanton is a big, big man. Twelve of Stanton's 14 home runs have traveled more than 400 feet. I don't care if he's not seeing the ball clearly, this is a batting practice show and few can put on a show like Stanton.
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: This is the one that Fielder and I agree on, and not just because Upton has the homefield advantage (which is a real advantage in this case). Upton has 13 home runs this season and according to HitTrackerOnline.com, only Fielder has hit a ball further than Upton's 478-foot bomb off of Chris Carpenter on April 12.
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: The guy has 81 homers since 2010 began, you'd be a fool not to pick him. It's no surprise he was the first guy Ortiz called. He'd be my first call, too.
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: His 28-homer first-round performance at the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium is probably the most memorable Derby of all time. Hamilton said would have listened had Ortiz called him. He'd be my second call after Bautista.
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: And here's my wild card. Suzuki has just one homer this season and has averaged less than 10 a year in his career, but anyone who has watched Suzuki in batting practice knows in that setting he can put the ball into the seats at will. In the Derby, you not only want the big boppers, but also the guys who can put together a streak of homers. Suzuki can do just about anything he wants with a bat, plus it'd be fun to watch the tiny Suzuki with all the other hulking players I've picked.
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