MLB Home Run Derby 2013: Winner, Twitter Reaction and Highlights
Yoenis Cespedes is your 2013 MLB Home Run Derby champion.
The Oakland Athletics slugger got off to a dominant start to roll into the finals against the Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper, where he outslugged Harper in the championship round, 9-8.
The Cuban-born outfielder hit 17, six and nine in each round and his 32 total home runs tied for the third-highest home run total in derby history behind only Bobby Abreu's 41 in 2005 and Josh Hamilton's 35 in 2008.
Bleacher Report's official Twitter account had the news:
Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A's is the 2013 Home Run Derby champion! pic.twitter.com/RRkCGy6o2w— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 16, 2013
The matchup between Cespedes and the 20-year old Harper was an unlikely one. Cespedes is hitting just .225 this season with 15 home runs and Harper carries a .264 batting average with 13 homers. As ESPN's Numbers Never Lie tweeted out, the duo also entered the contest with the fewest career home runs among all the contestants. But that didn't stop either from outslugging the competition.
Yoenis Cespedes (38) & Bryce Harper (35) have the fewest career HR among #HRDerby participants, but those are your finalists!— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) July 16, 2013
Harper was consistent throughout the night hitting eight home runs in each round. However, it wasn't enough to keep the hard-hitting Cespedes from claiming the title.
Defending champion Prince Fielder started the competition off slowly, hitting just five home runs to open up the first round. However, the disappointing number was highlighted by a 483-foot bomb that thoroughly impressed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout:
That home run wouldn't be enough to advance the Tigers star to the next round as he was surprisingly the first contestant to be eliminated.
Michael Cuddyer came up next. He was attempting to be the oldest player to win the event since David Ortiz in 2010, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Michael Cuddyer (34 years, 110 days) is oldest participant in 2013 #HRDerby. Oldest to win was David Ortiz (34 years, 236 days) in 2010— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 15, 2013
Cuddyer registered seven home runs to punch his ticket to the second round.
The real highlight of the first round was Yoenis Cespedes though. As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, he entered the derby with the longest average distance per home run this season. So it was safe to assume he'd hit some moon shots.
Yoenis Cespedes: Average HR distance of 407.9 feet this season (highest among HR Derby participants)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 16, 2013
He didn't disappoint.
He went upper deck on his second home run and consistently set the ball in flight. He ended up with 17 first round home runs. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the third most home runs ever hit in the first round.
Yoenis Cespedes ties David Ortiz for 3rd-most HR in 1st round of a HR Derby pic.twitter.com/WEzluXp1bM— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 16, 2013
MLB.com provided video of all 17 dingers:
Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez would join Prince Fielder as the second hitter to be eliminated in the first round, but not before he hit a bomb that was measured at 461 feet, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Pedro Alvarez: his longest HR of 1st round -- 461 feet #HRDerby— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 16, 2013
Major League home run leader Chris Davis would come up next and, as expected, put on a show. Davis hit eight first round home runs and showed that he has power to all fields. ESPN's Baseball Tonight tweeted out his spray chart:
Young superstar Harper would follow up Davis' performance with eight home runs of his own. Harper was one of two contestants (Robinson Cano being the other) who had his dad throw him pitches.
He didn't fail to disappoint the Washington fans watching at home. He crushed the first pitch and continued the hot streak, advancing to the next round.
As Bernie Pleskoff of MLB.com highlighted, his dad was an integral part of developing Harper's eye at the plate:
Bryce Harper told me his father put numbers on baseballs when Bryce was learning to hit. He had to tell his dad what number was on the ball.— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) July 16, 2013
Robinson Cano followed Harper's performance with a disappointing four home runs in the first round, making him the third batter to be eliminated.
David Wright would complete the disappointing night for New Yorkers as he hit just five home runs to join Fielder, Cano and Alvarez as the bottom four to be eliminated.
Underdog Michael Cuddyer opened up the second round with an all out assault on the Chevrolet truck in center field.
MLB tweeted out a recap of the round for him:
Cuddyer would rally with just three outs left to hit five more home runs to take his total to 15. A number that wouldn't be enough to make the final.
Chris Davis would wind up joining Cuddyer on the list of players that didn't make the final. But not before showing once again that he's the best at hitting home runs to the opposite field, per ESPN's Jayson Stark.
Chris Davis hits back-to-back opposite-field bombs. Don't know if I've ever seen that in a Derby.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 16, 2013
Bryce Harper would emerge as a worthy adversary to Cespedes in the second round. He launched five home runs in a row at one point according to Mark Zuckerman of CSN. As Stark pointed out, he never went more than three pitches without hitting a home run.
5 straight HRs for Harper.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) July 16, 2013
In his 2 rounds, Harper never went more than 3 swings in a row without a HR. He had his Derby Face on. Did he know he even had a Derby face?— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 16, 2013
Cespedes' 17 first round home runs were enough to advance him to the second round, but he decided to go to the plate anyway, needing just five home runs to give the American League the team victory. He accomplished that by hitting six and setting up the final duel with Harper.
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