2013 Home Run Derby participants: National League splits youth and experience

Ezra Shaw

The National League split its players between two experienced veterans and two players who have not been in the league very long.

The National League Home Run Derby roster may not have two former champions on it like the American League's does, but the NL does have a nice mixture of youth and veteran presence. David Wright and Michael Cuddyer have been in the league for years. Meanwhile Bryce Harper and Pedro Alvarez have the youthful exuberance as well as extraordinary power. Here is a closer look at the NL roster for the 2013 Home Run Derby.

David Wright

Wright is the National League team captain for the 2013 derby. This will be his second derby after he was the runner-up to Ryan Howard in 2006. Wright got off to a good start in 2006, with 16 long balls in the first round. He hit just two in the second round, but with first round scores carrying over, he still advanced to the finals where he lost to Howard by just one home run.

In 2013, Wright has hit 13 home runs, tied for 44th in the majors. He has not reached the 30 HR mark since 2008, but is having his best hitting season since with a .920 OPS. With the Home Run Derby and All-Star festivities being held at the Mets' Citi Field, Wright will be the home-stadium favorite. He will have to compete with Yankees slugger and AL Captain Robinson Cano for local loyalty, however.

Michael Cuddyer

Cuddyer is having the best season of his career, including a .332/.395/.567 batting line with 15 home runs, tied for 27th in the majors. He is also recently coming off a 27-game hitting streak.

Wright said he wanted to go with the hot hand when he chose Cuddyer, but will a hitting streak mean homers? Cuddyer has reached 30 home runs once in his career, back in 2009 with the Twins. He's hit at least 20 homers on just two other occasions, though he will almost certainly reach that mark in 2013. Cuddyer is currently tied with Wright as having the lowest odds to win the derby, according to Bovada.

Bryce Harper

The Home Run Derby is meant to be an entertaining show of power. What's more entertaining than a superstar second-year player who still isn't old enough to drink legally, yet has already hit 35 home runs over his first 195 games?

Harper is the kind of player who will attract viewers. Some call him cocky, some call him brash, but above all, he is talented and plays the game hard. It may be hard to bet against Harper, after all, he did hit a 502-foot home run when he was 16 years old. Harper has suffered through some injuries this season, but is still posting a .908 OPS.

Pedro Alvarez

Alvarez was not originally on Wright's roster for the derby. Instead, Wright chose Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez, the NL leader in home runs. However, when Gonzalez decided to forgo the derby due to an injured finger, Alvarez got the call.

Alvarez was chosen by the Pirates with the No. 2 pick in the 2008 MLB Draft. While he struggled early in his career, Alvarez came into his own in 2012 as he crushed 30 home runs while playing third base full time for Pittsburgh. This year, he is on an even more torrid pace with 24 long balls already, second in the National League.

Alvarez still has his weak spots as a hitter, including a .316 OBP since the beginning of 2012, but his talent as a power hitter should shine through in an event that is all about homers.

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