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MLB: The 2011 Home Run Derby
by Nick Parsons

Get all of Nick Parsons' baseball picks at Vegas Experts.

Prince Fielder (22) and Jose Bautista (29) have combined for 51 home-runs as of Friday July 8th.

Fielder is team captain for the National League for the 2011 Home Run Derby; David Ortiz is the captain for the American League (interesting to note that between the two they've combined for over 580 home runs in their MLB careers).

Are you familiar with the concept of the "Gold Ball"?

When a batter is down to his last "out", the "gold balls" are put into play and every home run that is hit with these special balls means that a certain amount is donated to charity.

This year State Farm will be donating $18,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for each gold ball home run.

But if you're lucky enough to actually grab one of these souvenirs, you should consider yourself very lucky, as the balls will actually be infused with 24-karat gold leather and are worth about $150 a piece.

On second thought, this has riot written all over it, with the possibility of unruly drunk fans knocking each other over to get to these gold balls being a very realistic scenario; Bud Selig may think twice about infusing his balls in the 2012 Derby.

Here are a list of this years contestants and what they've done in the first half:

Adrian Gonzalez +600

Team: Boston Red Sox

353 at bats; 17 home runs; .351 avg; 76 RBI's

Gonzalez leads the league with 76 RBI's; he's been very consistent all year.

David Ortiz +350

Team: Boston Red Sox

292 at bats; 18 home runs; .301 avg; 50 RBI's

Ortiz didn't play much in interleague action, but was back in his familiar DH position when it ended and already has four hits.

Jose Bautista +300

Team: Toronto Blue Jays

288 at bats; 29 home runs; .333 avg; 61 RBI's

"Joey Bats" had a bit of a lull after a massive opening to the year, but is closing the first half strong; he's gone 8 for 20 over a five-game hitting streak with four dingers and six RBI's.

Matt Holliday +350

Team: St. Louis Cardinals

228 at bats; 13 home runs; .320 avg; 46 RBI's

Holliday is on a "long ball" tear heading into the Derby; four of his 13 home runs have come in the last nine games; and remember, he missed a chunk of time in early and April and again in June due to injury.

Matt Kemp +650

Team: LA Dodgers

319 at bats; 22 home runs; .323 avg; 66 RBI's

Kemp has homered just twice in his last 20 games and 66 at bats; he had 13 homers in his previous 25-games before his latest 20-game drought.

Prince Fielder +350

Team: Milwaukee Brewers

311 at bats; 22 home runs; .302 avg; 71 RBI's

Fielder had been quite before last Tuesday night's eruption, when he went 2 for 4 with two RBI's, including a home run.

Rickie Weeks +1000

Team: Milwaukee Brewers

357 at bats; 16 home runs; .275 avg; 37 RBI's

Weeks is third on the team with 15 homers; he'd have more RBI chances batting lower in the order, but because of his speed, would lose some run-scoring opportunities and some at-bats of the course of the year.

Robinson Cano +750

Team: New York Yankees

333 at bats; 15 home runs; .297 avg; 56 RBI's

Cano smoked his 15th home run of the year in the Yank's 5-1 loss to the Rays on Thursday, his first since June 15th; the 19 game stretch between long-balls was his longest of the season.

Cano opened the season on an absolute tear, hitting eight homers in the first month.

 
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