On Monday night, MLB‘s biggest home run hitters took the stage to put on a show for the people of Minnesota in the 2014 MLB Home Run Derby. Yoenis Cespedes repeated as champion, hitting nine home runs in the final round to beat Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds in the new format this season.
Though Cespedes can be considered one of the best home run hitters in the league, he wasn’t the favorite in this bracket-style tournament. The favorites disappointed viewers in my opinion, but put on a good show nonetheless.
Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig and Cespedes headlined this year’s power-packed class of participants and put on very different performances. I left the contest feeling a bit cheated by the new format because it deprived us of seeing the best home run hitters in the league matching up against one another for the crown. Despite this format, they underperformed.
In his first round, Stanton put on the performance of the evening, pummeling pitches over 500 feet into the stands, totaling six home runs in the first round. In his second round, he hit ZERO. I consider Stanton to be the most powerful hitter in MLB, and he put on the most disappointing performance in the entire contest.
I could not believe my eyes that after Frazier hit a measly one home run in the matchup, Stanton couldn’t even muster one single deep fly despite having the strength and hand-eye coordination to swing one-handed and hit the ball 400 feet. It was laughable. I don’t care if he was tired. He has to be better than that.
Bautista, the captain of the AL team, also showed off during the first round, but failed to reach the final round after succumbing to his matchup in the semifinals. Justin Morneau hit a few home runs, but also couldn’t break past the round robin. Worst of all, Puig hit ZERO home runs in the entire contest. Embarrassing.
I understand that Cespedes winning somewhat refutes my claim that heavyweights didn’t show up, but he may have been the only one. I wanted to see Stanton blast 50 home runs, most that would be over 450 feet. I felt cheated. I truly did like the new format, but it lost the competitive nature of the one-and-done style. Puig was a joke. Troy Tulowitzki was just okay. Everyone except Cespedes didn’t deserve to win. Perhaps that’s why he did.