With sluggers like Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers and Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees involved in this year’s Home Run Derby, there certainly figures to be plenty of fireworks at Citi Field in Flushing, N.Y. Even so, it’s fun to wonder what could have been if some different choices were made.

It’s tough to argue with the aforementioned players, and New York Mets third baseman David Wright is locked in as well, since the Home Run Derby is at his home park, but every other selection is up for debate. There were so many deserving candidates that a few prolific home run hitters were bound to be left out, and that is precisely what happened.

Here are three sluggers who have a legitimate gripe, as they would have been top contenders in the 2013 Home Run Derby.


Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Few players have generated as much hype this season as Los Angeles Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig. The 22-year-old Cuban product took the league by storm after being called up in early June, and he hasn’t looked back since. Puig’s numbers are incredible, as he is hitting a shade under .400 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in just 37 games. He has played so well that he received a great deal of consideration to play in the All-Star Game itself.

Puig ultimately fell just short of that honor, as he lost to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the final vote, but he still should have been involved with All-Star weekend in some way, shape or form. Putting him in the Home Run Derby would have been perfect, as it is the type of exhibition that would allow him to display his raw power. Perhaps, it was for the best that he wasn’t chosen, though, as he left Friday’s game with a hip injury, according to SportsCenter.

Provided Puig is healthy, however, he is tailor-made for the Home Run Derby. Projected over the course of an entire season, Puig is on pace for 35 home runs, so he would fit right in. Also, one has to believe that Puig would have been great for the competition’s ratings. It may not matter depending upon his health, but Puig would have been great for the event.


Nelson Cruz, OF, Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz has long been known for his pure power, but he has taken things to a different level this season. Cruz’s career high in home runs came in 2009, when he hit 33, but with 22 jacks at the All-Star break, Cruz is on pace to exceed that number. Cruz is a streaky home run hitter, as he tends to hit them in bunches, and that is something that could have played into his favor in the Home Run Derby.

The big concern attached to Cruz is his potential involvement with a Biogenesis clinic in Florida. According to Jeff Seidel of ESPNDallas.com, Cruz may get suspended at some point this season due to performance-enhancing drug suspicion, so it’s possible that Major League Baseball is trying to distance itself from Cruz. He was elected to the All-Star Game, but perhaps, the league told Cano to stay away from anyone who is involved in PED talk.

If that is the case, then Cano can’t really be blamed. Davis and Fielder were no-brainer picks for him, but he went with Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to round out the American League quartet. Cespedes’ power is immense, but he didn’t make the All-Star team, and he only has 15 home runs this season, so it was a curious choice. If the selection of Cruz was on the table, Cano should have went with him instead.


Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

It took a bit longer than some expected, but Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown has finally come into his own this season. With a .281 batting average, 23 home runs and 64 RBI, Brown has developed into the face of the franchise in Philly ahead of established players such as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. The 25-year-old slugger is a rising star, and he could have easily been showcased in the Home Run Derby.

Brown is currently third in the National League in home runs behind Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who dropped out of the competition due to injury, and Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who is already on the team. As good as Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer has been this season, Brown is more of a pure home run hitter, and he probably would have put on a better show.

Provided Brown continues on his current path, he’ll likely get more opportunities to be in the Home Run Derby down the line. That doesn’t excuse Wright’s decision to snub him, though. There is a lot of pressure on the captains when selecting teams, as there are plenty of guys who want to compete and are also deserving, but it’s unfortunate that Brown was left out in the cold.


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