The Home Run Derby Exceeded all the Hype

The crowd in Miami was loud all night as the all-star festivities were kicked off with the home-run derby. Coming into the derby, all eyes and all the hype was on reigning champion, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. People compare Stanton and Judge all the time because the similarities they share in size, power and finesse. In one of the most anticipated HR derby’s that I’ve ever seen, I was hoping that all the excitement leading into it would not set up disappointing results, and it did not in the slightest. This home run derby was incredible and I’ll get into the results now…

First round results:

Miguel Sano (11 HRs) defeated Mike Moustakas (10 HRs)

Sano began the derby at a fairly slow pace, but it was a strategy that’s easy to understand since it was Sano’s first time in the event. Being a pretty big guy too, Sano understood to take his time because it gets tiring, especially being the size he is and how hard he swings the bat. Moustakas already surpassed his previous career high of HRs (22) as he has 25 going into the all-star break. Moustakas is a line-drive hitter who typically won’t hit towering home runs, which hurt him because he didn’t get the time bonus of 30 extra seconds for hitting 2 or more 440-foot home runs. Moose was within 1 HR of Sano with around 1 minute left, but fatigue came into play as he could not hit another to tie.

Gary Sanchez (17 HRs) defeated Giancarlo Stanton (16 HRs)

Sanchez came out slugging in the derby, shutting up all the people who claimed he didn’t belong as he only hit 13 home runs entering the break, granted he missed time due to injury. El Gary put a scare into Stanton, who was the favorite to repeat as champion for the hometown crowd in Miami. Stanton felt the pressure after the show Sanchez put on, as he began by hitting ground balls, probably trying too hard to hit line-drive shots and save time. Then Stanton over-corrected by hitting a couple pop-outs. With only 4 HRs, Giancarlo was forced to call an early timeout. Following the timeout Stanton was incredible, blasting absolute moonshots. Stanton finished regulation with 15 home runs, but since he was hitting bombs, he received the bonus time. He only hit 1 more in the bonus and popped a few balls up, which took a lot of time off the clock. Sanchez defeated Stanton, which was a huge surprise, especially for the fans of Miami.

Cody Bellinger (15 HRs) defeated Charlie Blackmon (14 HRs)

NL West rivals went head-to-head in this matchup as Bellinger edged out Blackmon. Blackmon hit first and was smacking line-drives all over the right field wall. Blackmon, who isn’t known for hitting tape-measure shots, put up a strong showing of hard-hit balls. The fact that Blackmon doesn’t hit deep shots might’ve cost him to advance in this one since he did not get his time bonus as his deepest HR ball traveled 434 feet. The young stud Cody Bellinger just has the type of swing made for hitting mesmerizing home-runs. It’s just fun watching Bellinger swing the bat. Hitting 12 HRs and not having much time left, Bellinger hit 1 more seconds before time expired, giving him his 2nd HR over 440 feet, which allowed him to receive the 30 second time bonus. Being down by 1 HR to Blackmon entering his bonus time, Bellinger went on to hit 2 more and advance to the semifinals.

Aaron Judge (23 HRs) defeated Justin Bour (22 HRs)

Wow. That’s the word to describe this matchup. Bour came out and amazed everyone. Stanton joined the commentary group while Bour was hitting and kept claiming for people to stop sleeping on Bour. Every home run hit by Bour got the crowd and teammate Stanton into a frenzy. Bour was feeling it too as he kept hyping up the crowd as he hit no-doubters into the second deck in right field of Marlins Park. He was having the time of his life out there, and who wouldn’t be if they’re hitting 22 home runs in the 1st round of a home run derby in front of their home crowd? Bour was exciting to watch, just how animated he was with each home run he hit. All the noise in Miami was on Stanton entering the derby, but it was Bour who got the crowd louder and pumped them up even more than Stanton did. Judge felt no pressure though as he blasted 23 home runs, including a 501-foot shot that was the longest of the 1st round. Judge, who many thought might be eliminated after Bour’s performance, did not want to end his night that early, hitting those 23 runs, which were the most of any round in the night. This round was by far the most entertaining with Judge defeating Bour and moving on to the next round.

Semifinals results:

Miguel Sano (11 HRs) defeated Gary Sanchez (10 HRs)

Sanchez started off the semis slow after amazing in his first round. He started to feel it later on in the round as he turned it up to reach double digit home runs with 10, including his longest of the night, which was 485 feet. Sano came out slugging again, while remaining on a bit of a slower pace like he had in the first round as well. Sano, who launched a 491-foot shot, beat out Sanchez’s 10 home runs, hitting his 11th with still 45 seconds left on the clock to earn his spot on the final round.

Aaron Judge (13 HRs) defeated Cody Bellinger (12 HRs)

Bellinger was the first to hit in this matchup, which included two guys who both might win rookie of the year. Bellinger had a good showing, hitting 12 over the wall of Marlins Park, but you could tell he was fatigued as his longest this round 433 feet and he was popping the ball up a little more. Still, for a guy who hadn’t discovered his power until right before getting the call-up to the Dodgers this year and going through his first derby, Bellinger was very impressive, and it gave people the chance to watch him swing the bat if they don’t have access to watch many Dodger games. Bellinger joined the booth to discuss his opportunity while Judge was up. When asked what the chances are of him defeating Judge and moving on, Bellinger jokingly said, “I think I have about a -12% chance.” Bellinger was having fun, but he was absolutely right with that claim as Judge hit his 13th home run with still one minute left on the clock, advancing him to the final round. Judge also hit a 513-foot bomb in this round as he flashed the enormous power he possesses.

Final round:

The final round was between Aaron Judge and Miguel Sano. Both guys are huge and are known for their exit velocity off the bat. So going into the final round, viewers knew they were going to get a show. Sano was just exhausted entering the finals as he gave everything he possibly had. Sano still finished with 10 home runs and was impressive throughout the derby. But 10 home runs just isn’t nearly enough to beat the monster. Judge closed the case by defeating Sano with almost 2 minutes left on the clock. He was on such a roll, if given the remaining time, who knows how many he could’ve hit.

The scary thing about Judge is, he didn’t even look the slightest bit tired at any point of the derby. Home run swings come almost effortlessly for Judge as it seems like he just flicks his wrists and the ball soars over the fence. Most people thought one of the big guys in Judge or Stanton would be crowned champion of this event, and with Stanton being eliminated in the 1st round, Judge finished it off winning the derby.

With towering home runs flying all around Marlins Park, the participants, teammates and fans made for an exciting night in Miami for the home run derby.

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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