Oakland Athletics slugger Yoenis Cespedes did not let a delayed Home Run Derby held at Target Field in Minneapolis ruin his chances of defending his crown. Cespedes became the first player in 15 years to win back-to-back Home Run Derby titles. This years Derby featured a new format but did not effect Cespedes from blasting a total of 28 home runs in the contest.
Cespedes and teammate Josh Donaldson tied for three homers a piece in the opening round which eventually led to a swing-off where Donaldson hit one home run, while Cespedes belted his first two balls out to eliminate his teammate.
Home Run Glory
Cespedes later warmed up and eliminated Orioles slugger Adam Jones and American League captain Jose Bautista in getting to the finals. After hitting only three in the first round, Cespedes hit a total of 25 in the last three rounds to propel him to the finals where he went up against Todd Frazier.
Frazier had earlier surprisingly defeated Giancarlo Stanton, who was considered by many to be a favorite to win the Derby. Frazier hit just one home run in the semifinals, and seemed out of it, but Stanton failed to hit any out and was eliminated.
Frazier won the coin toss and elected to bat second, but Cespedes was locked in and hit nine home runs to put a ton of pressure on Frazier. It was seemingly no contest in the finals, as Frazier only managed to hit one home run again, and fell to the reigning champion.
Cespedes joined the great Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to ever repeat as Home Run Derby champions in consecutive years. Griffey Jr. did it in 1998-1999, and now 15 years later Cespedes joins Griffey Jr. as the only other player to accomplish this.
The new format seemed to effect a few hitters during the first round, as numbers were pretty low during the first round. Other than Stanton and Bautista in the first round, the home run totals were down, with hitters only receiving seven outs instead of ten outs from previous years. Dodgers star Yasiel Puig was the only player to not record a single home run and was the first player not to record a single home run since Robinson Cano in 2008.
Stanton blasted the farthest home run in the contest, when he hit a moon shot that nearly left the entire ballpark, but landed deep into the third row that had players and fans in complete shock.
For the second year in a row A's third-base coach Mike Gallego pitched to Cespedes, and it is likely that the tandem will both be in Cincinnati during next years mid-summer classic to defend the Home Run Derby title.