Yoenis Cespedes Defends Home Run Derby Title in Minneapolis
Minneapolis, Minn. - From press conferences for both the Home Run Derby and the 85th All Star Game to Derek Jeter's massive following to various interviews from this year's baseball all stars, Yoenis Cespedes headlined All Star Monday in Minnesota. Cespedes defeated New Jersey native Todd Frazier in the final round to win the 2014 MLB Home Run Derby, which featured a completely new format that was largely based on a bracketed seven out system. The victory was Cespedes' second consecutive Home Run Derby title. The A's outfielder won last year's derby in Queens.
The first round saw it all: multiple swing-offs, balls into the third deck, stop and go rain, and even metal bats in a youth home run hitting contest. Jose Bautista's ten homers and Giancarlo Stanton's six were the early highlights, and their performances led to byes into the third round, or semi-finals. Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles and Cespedes were the other competitors to advance for the American League. Cespedes advanced after defeating his Oakland A's teammate, Josh Donaldson in a swing-off. Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins second baseman, did not advance in front of his home crowd after only hitting two balls out of the park. In the National League, Troy Tulowitzki and Frazier also moved forward with Stanton. Ex Minnesota Twin Justin Morneau could not advance past Frazier in a swing off, and Yasiel Puig failed to find the seats.
Fresh off their swing off wins, Cespedes and Frazier shone in the second round to advance to the semi-finals. Cespedes showed why he was the reigning Home Run Derby champion by blasting nine homers, leaving Jones with almost no chance. The Baltimore Orioles' center fielder connected for three home runs. On the National League side of the bracket Frazier belted six homers while Tulowitzki, the captain of the National League Home Run Derby squad, only managed two.
With their second round victories, Cespedes and Frazier advanced to face Bautista and Stanton respectively. Cespedes wanted to make sure that he would have a chance to defend his title in the final round and did so by hitting seven homers. Bautista only countered with four, ending the Blue Jays outfielder's chances at the title. After Frazier only powered one out of the park, it seemed certain that Stanton would advance to the final round. However, Stanton was unable to find his swing and failed to hit a single home run.
In the final round, Cespedes continued his dominance, hitting moon shots and amassing nine home runs. Frazier, a Toms River South (N.J.) and Rutgers University product, clearly had his hands full, and only belted one home run in his fourth round of the night. Cespedes was crowned the champion for the second time in as many years.
Overall, 71 home runs were hit and $465,000 was raised for charity at the 2014 Home Run Derby in front of a sell out crown of 40,558. The event, despite the new format, proved to be a fan favorite and the perfect lead up to the 2014 All Star Game. Yoenis Cespedes may have a chance to win his third consecutive Home Run Derby competition next year in Cincinnati. To listen to his post derby press conference, please press play below.
Stay tuned for coverage of tomorrow's 85th Midsummer Classic in the Twin Cities.