Back, Back, Back, Back…Gone! Cespedes Provides Derby Highlights.
Added by Aaron Guttenplan on July 16, 2013.
Yoenis Cespedes swings during last nights Home Run Derby at Citi Field.
The encouragement from the ambassador of baseball must have done something to inspire the fantastic performance from Yoenis Cespedes in last night’s home run derby, even though no one thought he had a chance in hell. With the lineup for this year’s derby stacked with the home run leader Chris Davis, the child prodigy Bryce Harper, and last year’s winner Prince “gigantor” Fielder, the Oakland outfielder seemed like an afterthought. Only Big Papi, who was offering advice between pitches, seemed to have faith in the largely unknown Cuban power hitter.
Quick lesson for those of you that don’t know how the home run derby works (shame on you):
1. Four players from the American League and four players from the National League are chosen. The lineup is in reverse order of the regular season home run total, alternating by league affiliation.
2. Each batter can have as many pitches as they want. Every swing that doesn’t result in a home run is an out, and everyone gets ten outs each round.
3. There are three rounds. In the first round the top four batters advance. Second round home runs are added to the first and the total score determines which two batters move on to the third round.
4. The score resets for the final round and the most home runs wins (duh).
First up was the defending champ who was very selective with his pitches. It paid off at first with two homers in two swings, but a big guy like that gets winded easily and he only managed to put up 5.
Next up was some guy named Michael Cuddyer who actually knocked out 7.
Then came the surprise of the night. Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes, a relative underdog, sauntered to the plate with nothing to prove. With Big Papi standing by filming him on his iPad like it was his own kid’s little league game, Cespedes stepped up and demolished the first round. Before I even realized what was happening he knocked out 12 in only 5 outs. He finished with 17 homers, with 12 of those over 400 feet.
After a slow start Pedro Alvarez puts up six.
Next up was one of the favorites, Baltimore’s Chris Davis who tied Reggie Jackson’s record of 37 pre-all-star break home runs this year. He tossed up 8 in a solid but largely overshadowed effort.
Then came the 20 year old from the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper. He had his father pitching for him, which may have been a mistake because his pitches kept cutting inside. I don’t know who paid off Bryce Harper’s Dad but he had to work to get hittable pitches in that first round.
I can’t say that I really saw the Cespedes explosion coming myself. I was sticking with my man Robbie Cano who we all know can light up the ball. I mean how could you not like the guy, he has the greatest smile in baseball as my father would say. He only managed to put up 4 homers but I’m convinced some of those little kids in the outfield robbed him of a couple.
The hometown hero David Wright was a big letdown with only 5 home runs.
The second round was a little quieter with no one topping 8 homers. Cuddyer hit 8, bringing his total to 15. Chris Davis fell off the map with 4 making his total 12. Harper must’ve had a little chat with his Dad because the pitches looked a little better and he just managed to edge out Cuddyer with 8 and a total score of 16. Cespedes didn’t have to bat because his first round score was still better than every other batter’s combined score, but someone must have told him that the AL was just four home runs behind the NL for the day. So just for kicks, he stepped up and knocked out 6 more bringing his grand total to 23.
For the final round we had one ALer, Yoenis Cespedes and one NLer, Bryce Harper. Harper was up first and threw up another 8 spot; a respectable effort, but not enough to stop Cespedes’ rampage. He tied Harper’s score in just five outs and then let the 9th homer fly, knocking it 411 ft. As soon as he hit the last ball he tossed up his bat in a “what the hell” kind of manner, and walked over to receive some much-deserved praise from his colleagues.
Cespedes played seven seasons in Cuba before defecting to the Dominican Republic and becoming a free agent for the MLB. Just two years ago he wasn’t even in the league and now he joins the ranks of some of the greatest hitters of all time. He is the first derby winner not chosen for that years all-star game making his victory that much sweeter. While he may not have the resume that other derby winners have, no one doubts that he can be a great player in this league.