Home Run Derby 2012: Prince Fielder Wins Second Career Derby

St. Louis Cardinals OF Carlos Beltran advanced to the second round, but was eliminated after hitting only five homers.

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Home Run Derby 2012: Carlos Beltran Can't Stop Prince Fielder's I-70 Series Win

The St. Louis Cardinals may have stopped Prince Fielder's Brewers in the NLCS last year, but during the 2012 Home Run Derby the slugger, now with the Detroit Tigers, established himself as a dominant figure in at least one facet of Missouri baseball, winning the I-70 series with matching victories in Kansas City and during 2009's St. Louis-based All-Star Break. Carlos Beltran, Missouri's sole entrant after Robinson Cano snubbed Billy Butler and was booed for his trouble, failed to advance past the second round, finishing the contest with 12 home runs.

Fielder's outstanding performance masks a less-than-stellar start to his career as a Tiger; he hit just 15 home runs in the first half of the regular season, for a .299/.380/.505 line. The .885 OPS would continue an evens-odds streak of the type that made Reggie Sanders famous; over the last six years he's had an OPS+ between 130 and 139 in even years, and over 150 in odd years.

But now he's won two Home Run Derbies. And when you're employing Prince Fielder, whose primary offensive skills are hitting home runs and drawing walks in part because of all the home runs he hits, that has to be at least a little reassuring.

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2012 Home Run Derby: St. Louis Winner Prince Fielder Advances To Finals Vs. Jose Bautista

The 2012 Home Run Derby could be a repeat of Missouri's last All-Star Break: Prince Fielder, who won the 2009 competition in St. Louis, advanced to the finals Monday night with a dominant second-round performance. He'll join Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista, who scuffled in the second round before beating Mark Trumbo in a five-swing tiebreaker. Fielder, who's hit multiple 470-foot home runs, currently has the lead in both distance and quantity.

Fielder, who won the Busch Stadium contest for the National League, would be the only man ever to win Home Run Derbies for both leagues, if you're keeping track of that sort of thing. With Beltran's loss in the second round, the National League has been long-ago eliminated.

For more 2012 Home Run Derby coverage, stay tuned here at SB Nation St. Louis. We're a little broken up about Carlos Beltran's elimination, but having watched Fielder's 2009 performance live I'm willing to adopt him as our honorary local angle to the story.

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Home Run Derby 2012: Robinson Cano Shut Out As Kauffman Stadium Boos

The 2012 Home Run Derby's second round counts St. Louis Cardinals star--and former Kansas City Royals fixture--Carlos Beltran among its final four competitors, but it won't have the 2011 derby's best story: Robinson Cano and his BP-throwing father were shutout Monday, as Kauffman Stadium booed throughout in a display that was more stereotypically Philadelphian than Missourian.

Cano hit 32 home runs in last year's derby in Phoenix, edging out Adrian Gonzalez by a single home run. In Monday night's competition Cano simply couldn't get started, flipping popups out to shallow center field. 2009 Home Run Derby champion Prince Fielder, who dominated that competition in Busch Stadium, finished fourth in the first round, taking advantage of Cano's loss to narrowly advance.

After the first round Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays, who disappointed in 2011, carries 11 home runs for the Home Run Derby lead. But it's a long competition, and any of the remaining competitors, including the Cardinals' Beltran, could pull away in the next rounds.

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Home Run Derby 2012: Carlos Beltran's Power Returns Just In Time For All-Star Break

Last year Carlos Beltran was one of the best hitters in baseball--.300/.385/.525, for an OPS+ of 155--despite hitting all of 22 home runs, the fewest he'd managed in a full season since 2005. He did it with doubles and triples, 39 and 6 of them, respectively, and a batting average around .300 for the first time in a full season since 2003. This year Beltran's OPS+ is actually slightly lower (150), but he's getting at his distinctly familiar .296/.382/.542 line in a completely different year. This year he's been invited to the 2012 Home Run Derby. So what's changed?

Well, all those doubles and triples he hit last year have, so far, been turned into home runs. After hitting more than twice as many doubles and triples as home runs in 2011, he has just 12 against 20 home runs in 2012. It's a trade most people would make, but it's also one that suggests the Beltran we St. Louis Cardinals fans get back after the All-Star Break won't be the same one we saw in May and June--no matter what happens in the Home Run Derby.

Players do weird things within arbitrarily defined sample sizes. It could be that Beltran is adjusting to his declining speed by lofting more home runs than ever... or it could also be that he'll go back to hitting more doubles, to almost the same overall effect, by the end of the season. Only one thing is certain: Monday night, during the Home Run Derby, he won't get credit for any of those regressed-to-the-mean doubles.

More 2012 All-Star Game news and analysis from SB Nation St. Louis:

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