Bryce Harper is the home run king.
Playing the role of hometown hero in front of the Washington Nationals fans at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Harper beat Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs in the final round, 19-18. He mixed in plenty of drama, hitting his 18th homer on his final swing of regulation time and winning it with the extra 30 seconds he earned by hitting at least two more than 440 feet during his round.
He prevailed in an eight-competitor bracket seeded by the number of long balls each had when the field was set. Each hitter had four minutes and one timeout per round to hit as many blasts as they could, although the two finalists were granted an additional 30-second timeout.
The thrilling final was an apt finish to what was a spectacularly entertaining Home Run Derby that featured multiple walkoff wins, Ruthian blasts and an ecstatic crowd. ESPN Stats & Info noted Harper became just the third player to win the Derby at his home stadium, joining Chicago's Ryne Sandberg (1990) and the Cincinnati Reds' Todd Frazier (2015).
If one can be clutch in a spectacle put on for the fans, Harper came through in the biggest moment. He drilled nine homers in the final 47 seconds of regulation alone just to tie Schwarber and set up his towering blast to win it.
He also rescued his father, who was drawing some restless ire from the fans as he struggled to throw strikes as his pitcher early in the last round.
As for Schwarber, he provided a show of his own. According to Jayson Stark of MLB Network, the Cubs slugger hit 16 of his 18 homers in the final round in the second or third deck, underscoring his ability to launch rockets into the night sky on a consistent basis.
The semifinals brought plenty of entertainment as well considering Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins of the Philadelphia Phillies turned in a memorable battle that extended to the last swing.
Hoskins blasted 20 long balls, which figured to be enough to advance. Schwarber missed the memo, though, and hit his 21st on his final swing after pumping up the crowd in between pitches.
It was clear the Chicago outfielder was in a groove when he turned to the fans in his final minute, and he flipped his bat in triumph with his last homer. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the two competitors became the first players to hit 20 home runs in the semifinals of the Derby, and they did it against each other.
The encore didn't match the drama of the first matchup, but Harper gave Nationals Park exactly what it was looking for by prevailing against Max Muncy of the Los Angeles Dodgers with 13 homers.
The hometown hero started slowly but found a groove in plenty of time to surpass Muncy's 12 with more than a minute remaining on his clock.
The first round featured a perfectly timed timeout, the top seed going home, a near miss on an attempted buzzer-beater and some hometown love.
It was Hoskins who nailed the timeout use, drilling 12 of his 17 long balls in the final two minutes. Top-seeded Jesus Aguilar of the Milwaukee Brewers (12) couldn't match his total and was eliminated. Hoskins was unfazed by the stage of his first Derby, catching fire in the closing stretch to set the initial tone.
It paled in comparison to the drama in the showdown between Schwarber and Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros.
Schwarber became the first player to earn the 30 seconds of bonus time with multiple moonshots into the right field stands, one of which provided a souvenir to the third deck. He won 16-15, as the Astros third baseman just missed a tiebreak by smacking the wall on his final swing.
Sixteen blasts wasn't enough for the other Cub, as Javier Baez fell short of Muncy's 17 dingers. The Dodgers star did it in style, walking off with 35 seconds remaining and sending a message to those who weren't familiar with the breakout slugger.
As far as the crowd was concerned, it was all setup before Harper. The Nationals slugger fed off the energy and chants, eliminating division rival Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves, 13-12, and keeping the home favorite alive before he eventually won.