From last to first.
The Oakland Athletics’ Yoenis Cespedes was the last of eight participants announced by both the American League and National League teams to participate in the 2013 Home Run Derby. On Monday night, he turned out to be first on the scoreboard to defeat the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper to win the Derby.
Early on, the story of the night immediately became the first-time Cespedes on a night that featured defending champions including Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano. He would send 17 home runs out of the ballpark in the first round to tie for third all-time in a single round. This tied David Ortiz in 2005 when the Derby was in Detroit. Only Josh Hamilton (28 in 2008, also in New York at the old Yankee Stadium) and Bobby Abreu (24, also in Detroit in 2005) have more.
Cespedes’ 17 in the first round definitely put the other participants in his shadow. He and Harper would be joined by Michael Cuddyer and Chris Davis in the 2nd round. Neither of the Gotham team-based captains (Cano and Wright) made it. Cano finished with 4 and David Wright with 5. Pedro Alvarez and Prince Fielder also had first round exits.
Since the home run totals from the first couple of rounds have become cumulative in recent years, Cespedes’ double-digit total that he put up in the first round was more than enough to propel the Oakland Athletic into the finals. The only question was who would join him. It turned out that it would be the 20-year old Washington National.
So, the Home Run Derby’s final round would feature two first time Derby participants that are sure to be part of the nucleus of Major League Baseball going forward. The home run totals do not carry over to the final round, so it was basically a new baseball game, to use a closely related analogy. Even though Harper (whose homers seemed to have more velocity than they did distance) put up 8 in the final round, Cespedes bested him with 9, and his final shot traveled 455 feet to the deepest part of a ballpark that more or less resembled a bandbox on Monday night.
Cespedes’ Home Run Derby victory is also notable because it is the first time that someone who is not a part of the All Star Game itself won it. He’s already claiming that he would want to return and defend his newly won title. We’ll see next year in Minnesota….or in 2015 in Cincinnati…or 2016 in…to be determined.
In short, Monday night was practically the Yoenis Cespedes Show featuring seven special guests in front of an audience of circa 40,000-50,000 fans. His total for all 3 rounds was 32 homers on a night where the American League outslugged the National League.
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