After slugging his way to a major league-high 33 home runs — five more than the next highest total and nine more than the third — Orioles first baseman Chris Davis will have the opportunity to showcase his power in front of a national audience before the All-Star Game.
Davis was selected to the American League’s Home Run Derby team Monday night, becoming the eighth Oriole selected for the event, which is held July 15 the night before the All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York.
“I think as a power hitter growing up, it’s one of the things that you look at as kind of your own special thing about the All-Star Game,” Davis said in a Monday afternoon news conference before the derby lineups were announced and the Orioles played the Rangers.
Davis will join New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, the team's captain, Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder and a fourth member to be announced Tuesday by Cano. New York Mets third baseman David Wright is the National League's team captain, and he tabbed left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and right fielder Michael Cuddyer of the Colorado Rockies and left fielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals for his squad.
Davis was selected to his first All-Star Game on Saturday, along with center fielder Adam Jones, shortstop J.J. Hardy and third baseman Manny Machado. In addition to his home runs, Davis is second in the American League in RBIs with 85 and third in batting average with a .320 mark.
Hardy, who is in Davis’ batting practice group along with Machado, said he’s always watched the Home Run Derby with a passing interest. Now, that will change with his teammate’s selection.
“I’m always a fan of the Home Run Derby but don’t really pull for anyone to win,” Hardy said. “It’s just something to watch, but if he’s in it, it’ll just make it that much different because I’ll be rooting for him. I think he has a pretty good shot if he’s in it.”
Davis is the first Oriole to participate in the Home Run Derby since Miguel Tejada didn’t advance out of the first round in 2006 in Pittsburgh. Before Davis, seven Orioles have competed in the event 12 times, with Tejada capturing the championship in Houston in 2004 and Cal Ripken Jr. winning in Toronto in 1991.
Brady Anderson, the Orioles vice president of baseball operations, competed in the Home Run Derby twice, finishing third behind Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire in Philadelphia 1996 and fifth in Cleveland the next year.
“It’s not nerve-wracking in a bad way,” Anderson said. “It’s kind of exhilarating to be in a Home Run Derby.”
Anderson said he was initially nervous, and his back leg started shaking when he stepped into the box in 1996, but he settled in to hit 11 home runs in two rounds. Bonds hit 17 to win, while McGwire finished second with 15.
“I guess at one point, I just decided I don’t care and I’m going to try to put on a show and relax,” Anderson said. “I went out to win it. That’s the big difference. You don’t want to go there with the attitude to not embarrass yourself. You want to go out there and win it.”
Davis’ swing is “perfect” for the event, Anderson said, and he is naturally suited for hitting home runs. Davis is also powerful enough that he can still muscle a ball over the wall even if he doesn’t make completely solid contact.
And Davis’ teammates know it. They’ve been there for each of his home runs this season, and they want everyone else to be there, too.
“I know that Major League Baseball has seen his power, but it’s going to be a little bit bigger stage,” Jones said. “Show the world your power.”
Orioles in the Home Run Derby
1985: Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr.
1989: Mickey Tettleton
1991: Cal Ripken Jr. (winner)
1992: Cal Ripken Jr.
1996: Brady Anderson
1997: Brady Anderson
1998: Rafael Palmeiro
1999: B.J. Surhoff
2004: Miguel Tejada (winner) and Rafael Palmeiro
2006: Miguel TejadaCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun