MINNEAPOLIS – The 2014 All Star Game Home Run Derby was delayed by an hour because of rain, but the 40,588 spectators at Target Field still got a show, with Home Run Derby rookie Todd Frazier representing the National League and Yoenis Cespedes, the defending champion, representing the American League.
“It (the rain) definitely affected us at the beginning,” Cespedes said. “And then at the end when it started raining during the final, I was already in the middle, so that was not as big a problem.”
In the end, Cespedes won to become the first back-to-back derby champion since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998 and 1999.
“I’m very happy and proud to be the only other person,” Cespedes said of joining Griffey with back to back championships. “I wish there was another word that would describe it even better than that to win this competition in consecutive years.”
Cespedes went first and banged out nine home runs in the finals while Frazier hit just one. Cespedes finished with 30 total home runs to Frazier’s 11 total homers. In his two career home run derbies, Cespedes has combined for 62 total home runs, good for sixth most in the history. David Ortiz is the career leader with 77 homers over five derbies.
The National League (NL) semis, Frazier mustered up just one home run, but this time it was more than enough to beat Giancarlo Stanton as the Marlins slugger went homerless in the semis, finishing with the seven he hit in the first round. As for Frazier, he went into the finals with 10 dingers. In the American League semis Cespedes went first, blasting seven home runs while Bautista, the AL captain hit just four. Bautista finished with 14 homers.
In the NL quarterfinals, Frazier finally got hot. At one point he hit four straight while finishing with six while Troy Tulowitzki managed just two homers. Tulowitzki was eliminated, finishing with a grand total of six homers.
The AL quarterfinals featured Cespedes and Adam Jones. Cespedes went first, blasting nine while Jones followed and managed just three. Jones finished the derby with seven total homers.
Frazier, the Reds’ third baseman, was the first up in the Home Run Derby and he finished with just two homers. Frazier hit his first blast to right center after recording five outs. Following another out, he blasted one to left field for his second and final blast.
Brian Dozier of the hometown Twins was next and he also hit just two home runs. With his brother throwing to him, Dozier recorded his first home run with three outs. It took another two outs before he connected again. Both homers went into the left field seats.
Tulowitzki was third and his finished with as many dingers as the first two participants combined. Tulowitzki hit his first with two outs, then hit two more three outs later. His final blast came with only one out remaining.
When the American League captain went, he crushed 10 homers. Bautista hit four straight with one out then hit three more with three outs. From outs four through seven, Bautista traded off home run for out, launching his final blast with one out remaining.
Following Bautista was tough, especially for Yasiel Puig. The Dodger outfielder, making his first appearance in the All Star Game and in the Home Run Derby, was unable to provide the show fans hoped for as he finished with zero home runs.
Jones ended the fans home run drought when he connected on his second swing for the first of fur total home runs. Jones hit his second and third on consecutive swings before collecting his fourth with five outs.
Stanton, one of the favorites, put on an early show, crushing seven home runs. He was the first player to homer on his first swing and then alternated home run and out over the first eight swings he took. Stanton’s final home traveled an estimated 422 feet into the upper deck.
Josh Donaldson, who’s twitter handle is @bringerofrain definitely brought the rain to Target Field with him, but only finished with three home runs. Donaldson’s final two blasts came on the final out.
Justin Morneau, the 2008 champion, hit two homeruns to force a tie with Frazier while the Cespedes hit three to tie Donaldson, his Oakland teammate.
In the tie breaker, each player got three swings. Frazier hit one while Morneau was homerless and was eliminated. Frazier’s total of three was enough to advance. Donaldson hit one in his swing-off with Cespedes to finish with four homers, but Cespedes, the Cuban slugger, needed only two of his three swings to move on to the quarterfinals with five first round blasts.
“In terms of (facing off against) Josh,” Cespedes said. “I knew he wasn’t going to win because his mentality was to take the ball out of the stadium, and I told him that is not the way you win this competition.”
Morneau’s two homers brought his career total to 28 home runs in two home run derbies while Bautista’s 38 over three derbies.