The 2009 Home Run Derby: The Music Tells Us Who Will Win

It’s officially the halfway point of summer this week, as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is tomorrow at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The week will feature a number of musical guests, including a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” care of Sheryl Crow and a performance by David Cook at tonight’s Home Run Derby.

While the actual All-Star Game is perpetually a snoozer even for hardcore fans, the Home Run Derby is always a reason to tune in to ESPN. This year’s contestants are an eclectic mix of old saws and newcomers, and since it’s regularly impossible to project just who is going to win (past victors include not-quite-legends like Garret Anderson and Wally Joyner), the only real way to judge who will come out on top is to judge each contestant by his entrance music.

Yes, just like the WWE, just about every player in baseball has a song that plays over stadium PAs when they come to the plate. Some choices are inspired, some inexplicable. So here’s how the field will likely shake out, based solely on each individual’s taste in tunes.

8. Brandon Inge (Detroit Tigers; Korn, “Coming Undone”): Inge would have picked up some points by having the only rock song on this list, but he loses everything he might have gained by attaching his name to one of the least badass tunes in the Korn catalogue. Why wouldn’t he go with “Right Now” or “Got the Life”?

7. Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies; Ludacris, “Last of a Dying Breed”): Howard is one of the most feared hitters in baseball, and the intro to “Last of a Dying Breed” is fittingly epic, but the track is full of over-blustery boasts like “Soldiers couldn’t cause more disasters on D-Day” and “Luda’s got more records than a DJ.”

6. Nelson Cruz (Texas Rangers; Daddy Yankee, “Somos De Calle”): Reggaeton is still gigantic among baseball players (you hear a ton of Daddy Yankee at MLB stadiums), so this isn’t too surprising. It’s a reasonable tune, but it’s no “Gasolina.”

5. Adrian Gonzalez (San Diego Padres; Pitbull, “Get Up (Levantate)”): Now this is more like it. While “Get Up (Levantate)” is unlikely to strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers, it’s almost certain to get fans to clap along.

4. Carlos Pena (Tampa Bay Rays; Pitbull, “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)”): Pena gets credit not only for picking something with some regional flavor, but this is the far-superior Pitbull song. Also, the intro to this song sounds a lot like the intro to the Squirrel Nut Zippers’ “Hell,” which would be my intro song if I started at second base for the Mets.

3. Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals; LL Cool J, “Clap Your Hands”): Taken simply on stats and skills alone, Pujols is probably going to walk away with this (it also helps that the Derby happens to be in his home stadium). His slice of old-school courtesy of LL Cool J only adds to his awesomeness, but he can’t get over the hump of the top two.

2. Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers; Prote-J, “Heir to the Throne”): There are not one but two participants in this year’s Home Run Derby who have had songs written specifically for their approach to the plate. Fielder’s song was written for him by Florida rapper Prote-J and contains the spectacular line “You’re a bunch of cartoons and he’s Jordan in Space Jam.”

1. Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins; A&R, “Joe Mauer”): “Heir to the Throne” is pretty amazing, but “Joe Mauer” is on another level. It’s got a big, minimalist beat, a little bit of Auto-Tune, samples of crowd noise and an incredible lyric that name-checks Mauer’s parents. Congratulations, Joe — you’re winning this thing tonight.