In this era of Major League Baseball, where power is hard to come by, the Home Run Derby takes on a new level of importance. We don't just watch to see balls go over the fence but to see the amazing feats of strength from these incredible athletes.
Not even chilly, rainy weather on Monday night could slow down the homers, even if they were coming from unexpected sources in some cases. The 2014 Home Run Derby field looked stacked on paper, but some players quickly found out that it's not easy to turn on the power button.
As we take a look back at the highlights from the power surge at Target Field, including the results, it's also worth your time to see some of these home runs and how fellow players reacted to their peers.
|Player||Total HRs||Best Round|
|Champion: Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics||30 (includes two homers in 1st-round tiebreaker)||2nd and Final round (9)|
|Runner-up: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds||11 (includes one homer in 1st-round tiebreaker)||2nd round (6)|
|Semifinalist: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays||14||1st round (10)|
|Semifinalist: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins||6||1st round (6)|
|Quarterfinalist: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles||7||1st round (4)|
|Quarterfinalist: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies||6||1st round (4)|
|First Round: Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies||2||1st round|
|First Round: Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins||2||1st round|
|First Round: Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics||4 (includes one homer in 1st-round tiebreaker)||1st round|
|First Round: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers||0||-|
Most Talked-About Home Run: Giancarlo Stanton's 510-foot Blast
Before the Home Run Derby started, Giancarlo Stanton was the consensus pick to walk away victorious. He leads MLB in average home run distance this season at nearly 424 feet, according to ESPN's Hit Tracker.
Even though Stanton wasn't able to hold up after his impressive first-round showing, Miami's young superstar provided a show with his six home runs that was more than worth the price of admission.
The best part of the homer, if you don't care about seeing the ball travel that far, was the reaction from other players taking the spectacle in, including reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, which you can see, via MLB.com:
To be fair, Stanton's monster blast didn't actually travel 510 feet but was projected to go that far if there was no upper deck at Target Field. The ball landed "just" 422 feet, which is shorter than he usually hits homers this year.
What a slacker...
Best Single Round: Jose Bautista Hits 10 in First Round
The top two performers in the first round, Stanton and Jose Bautista, struggled in the third round after securing a bye. Some of that can be attributed to the cold weather, but the long wait for the second round to finish had to play a role.
Regardless of why those two sluggers faltered, they put on a show in the Home Run Derby. Bautista's first round consisted of 10 homers, the single most of any round by any player in this year's event.
The new format, with players from each league competing against each other before the finals and home runs not carrying over, didn't do Bautista any favors, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter:
Todd Frazier made the Finals by hitting 10 total HR ... Jose Bautista hit 10 HR in the first round— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 15, 2014
Only Yoenis Cespedes came close to matching Bautista, hitting nine homers each in the second round and finals. Toronto's star didn't have one majestic blast, like Stanton or Cespedes, but his consistency in the opening round perfectly encapsulated the way he hits in real games.
Most Impressive Performance: Yoenis Cespedes Hits 30 Total Homers
A case where the champion is also the most impressive all-around performance. Yoenis Cespedes kept building momentum through the rounds before exploding with an impressive final round that included nine home runs to defend is Home Run Derby title.
What will you remember from the 2014 HR Derby?
Too often we see players go all out in the first round, leaving them with little energy in the subsequent rounds, so someone else swoops in to steal their title. We call this "Josh Hamilton Syndrome" after the former MVP hit 28 homers in the first round of the 2008 Home Run Derby but hit just seven the next two rounds combined.
Cespedes started slow with just two homers in the first round, needing a tiebreaker just to advance, then blasted nine homers in the second round. Add 16 combined homers in the semifinals and finals, and it equals back-to-back championships for the Oakland star.
Much like a great movie or book, the key to success is not providing the great moments early but building to an epic climax. Cespedes did that when no one else was able to find any consistency.
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