To be honest, I'm not sure how Yoenis Cespedes won the 2014 Home Run Derby, but he was clearly the best on the night, so it all worked out in the end.
In an effort to try to make the Home Run Derby more interesting and draw in more fans, Major League Baseball opted for a league-based bracket structure. You wouldn't think that guys hitting a baseball over a fence could become unbelievably confusing, but MLB made it happen.
Trying to explain it all would be akin to Kenny Mayne and Dan Patrick breaking down the Denslow Cup.
All you need to know is Cespedes beat Todd Frazier in the final after what felt like an eternity, and most fans would agree that justice was done. It would've been regressive to introduce this entirely new format and then watch somebody back into the Derby title.
Look at this stat, courtesy of ESPN's Jayson Stark. No offense to Frazier, but he had no business winning on Monday night:
As lots of you are pointing out on Twitter, Cespedes outhomered Frazier, 30-10. Bautista hit 10 in the first round, & he's long gone. Hmmm.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 15, 2014
That was a disaster averted for the Home Run Derby. Jose Bautista couldn't get so lucky.
He hit 10 home runs in the first round, but since he had a bye in the second round, he didn't get to bat again until much later in the competition, by which time he was extremely rusty. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the wait was nearly two hours long:
Jose Bautista took his last swing at 9:29 PM eastern time. Trying to beat Yoenis Cespedes to advance to Finals— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 15, 2014
Cespedes beat Bautista, 7-4, in the third round and subsequently knocked off Frazier. You can see the full results below.
|AL Batter||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics||3||11||7|
|Jose Bautista, Blue Jays||10||Bye||4|
|Adam Jones, Orioles||4||3|
|Josh Donaldson, Athletics||4|
|Brian Dozier, Twins||2|
|NL Batter||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|Todd Frazier, Reds||3||6||1|
|Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins||6||Bye||0|
|Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies||4||2|
|Justin Morneau, Rockies||2|
|Yasiel Puig, Dodgers||0|
|Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics||9|
|Todd Frazier, Reds||1|
The Home Run Derby is largely irrelevant in a player's overall legacy. Nobody lists the number of Derby wins on somebody's Hall of Fame resume.
What the event can do is make fans truly appreciate a facet of a hitter's game they might not have known existed.
In his two full seasons in the majors, the Oakland A's star hasn't hit more than 26 home runs. He's not what you'd judge strictly a slugger; however, he is the kind of hitter who excels in the Home Run Derby. Cespedes has prodigious power that allows him to hit the ball out of the yard almost on command.
Consider that he's the first player to repeat in the Home Run Derby in over a decade, per MLB:
Not a man of many words, he said after going back to back, "It was something I wanted to accomplish," per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
Some fans might not be too hot on the Derby, but it's at least allowed Cespedes to receive the credit he so richly deserves.
The 28-year-old suffers from two problems in terms of getting proper recognition: He plays on the West Coast, and more importantly, he plays for the Oakland Athletics. He's basically a slightly lesser version of Yasiel Puig if Puig played 300-plus miles north.
Puig certainly isn't suffering from a lack of attention.
The biggest star in Oakland has always been general manager Billy Beane, and as a result, most of the players go unappreciated. The A's offense has been out of its mind this year, yet the more casual baseball fans either don't care or don't have a clue.
If Monday's labyrinthine Home Run Derby was a chance for one of Oakland's best players to get a little publicity, then it was worth all of the hassle.