Aaron Judge lived up to his massive expectations while winning the 2017 Home Run Derby at Marlins Park in Miami on Monday night.
The New York Yankees star leads the majors in home runs at the All-Star break with 30, and he showed his power on the national stage, beating No. 5 seed Miguel Sano in the final round.
The eight-man tournament featured a bracket format of head-to-head battles, and Judge, the No. 2 seed, came through in the final with 11 homers to Sano's 10 for the championship. He also defeated Miami's Justin Bour and Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger in the first two rounds.
Defending champion Giancarlo Stanton was eliminated in the first round by No. 8 seed Gary Sanchez in front of his home fans, but those in attendance were still treated to a show Monday night.
Here is a full look at the bracket, via ESPN:
- No. 5 Miguel Sano def. No. 4 Mike Moustakas, 11-10
- No. 8 Gary Sanchez def. No. 1 Giancarlo Stanton, 17-16
- No. 3 Cody Bellinger def. No. 6 Charlie Blackmon, 15-14
- No. 2 Aaron Judge def. No. 7 Justin Bour, 23-22
The head-to-head battles created plenty of drama right from the start, with all four matchups decided by one hit.
Sano kicked off the festivities with a number of long shots, utilizing his extra time to reach 11 dingers. Kansas City Royals star Mike Moustakas came close with 10 but failed to hit any in the last minute in the round.
Bellinger showed up Colorado Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon, hitting his clinching 15th homer with just five seconds remaining in bonus time after Blackmon failed to earn the extra 30-second round.
Two battles between the Marlins and Yankees were the main attractions, though.
New York's Gary Sanchez took on Stanton and put up a tough-to-match number at 17, including two 474-foot dingers and a 483-footer.
Stanton then did his best to catch up, even smashing a 496-foot homer in his longest effort, but he fell just short with 16 after failing to make the two he needed to tie Sanchez in the bonus round. Still, his effort impressed those watching:
In the final battle of the first, Justin Bour seemed ready to avenge the loss of his teammate and put on a display, hitting six dingers on consecutive swings on his way to 22 home runs. However, Judge was too good to stop, and his homer in the bonus round sealed his victory.
He hit 23 home runs—the third-highest total ever in one round—to advance to the semifinals, setting social media ablaze in the process:
Here's a look at his incredible 501-footer, the longest of the frame, which went over the marlin sculpture in center field:
- Miguel Sano def. Gary Sanchez, 11-10
- Aaron Judge def. Cody Bellinger, 13-12
As the first to compete in the second round, Sanchez seemed to run out of gas, only managing 10 home runs (one of which came in bonus time).
This left the door open for Sano to cruise to a win. He nailed his 11th homer with 50 seconds left on the clock and didn't keep going, which came with some criticism from people, including Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal:
The same thing happened in Judge's second round. He stopped after hitting his 13th to take out Bellinger with one minute remaining in regulation, but he didn't seem to show any fatigue. His last blast of the round went 507 feet.
This was after an incredible 513-foot homer, via MLB on Twitter:
Bellinger was quick to congratulate the man who beat him:
- Aaron Judge def. Miguel Sano, 11-10
Sano had to go first in the final, and this time, the Twins star was the one who ran out of gas. While he put up a respectable 10 home runs, it was almost a forgone conclusion that Judge would beat that number.
The 6'7", 282-pound outfielder showcased a nice, easy swing that didn't slow down as the night progressed and slammed three homers on his first three swings.
He crushed his 11th home run with 1:58 left on the clock, but instead of adding to the total, he celebrated the title along with his American League teammates.
The performance was not lost on those watching:
The rookie came in with a lot of hype, and he certainly lived up to it.