After a perfectly mortal June Jose Bautista goes into the MLB Home Run Derby, Monday night on ESPN, back in the form that saw him reaching Bondsian numbers in April and May. Bautista homered twice more on Sunday, giving him seven in July and 31 on the season to lead baseball going into the All-Star Break. That's three more than he hit in all of June, and he's on pace, once more, to end the season with 55. Matt Holliday, the St. Louis Cardinals' unlikely representative, is on a streak of his own, with four home runs in 10 July games, but it's not enough to vault him into the realm of the favorite with Bautista and team captains David Ortiz and Prince Fielder; Derby odds have him somewhere in the vast middle between the favorites and the second basemen.
Holliday was once known as a slow starter, but his .580 slugging percentage and 14 home runs at the break are actually his best first-half totals since his breakout 2006, in spite of the time he missed on the disabled list and the operating table.