Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista knows a thing or two about competing in the Home Run Derby at Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game. Having competed in three of them already, Bautista was a veteran in field that featured seven new comers.
Well, Bautista was more than ready for this year’s competition, giving a thumbs up to fans before the competition to indicate he was raring to go. From there, he showed them why they call him Joey Bats.
Hitting in the four hole, Jose Bautista watched Todd Frazier, Brian Dozier, and Troy Tulowitzki all bottom out pretty quickly, combining for a mere 8 home runs between the three of them. That’s when Toronto’s right fielder took over.
Bautista wasted no time carving out an early lead, notching 10 home runs before bowing out with another out still in his pocket. At one point, Bautista had hit home runs on 4 consecutive swings and had put 7 of 8 into the seats, including a 428ft bomb. Jose ended the first round by planting a flex ball in the stands and secured a second-round bye.
The next few batters of the first round was as disappointing as Bautista’s predecessors, with Yasiel Puig putting up goose egg with zero knocks. He went up with a very Vladdy-esque approach, swinging at everything. Adam Jones followed Puig and put four in the seats to tie the Orioles’ center fielder with Tulowitzki.
Giancarlo Stanton made it interesting in the his first round attempt, putting up a six spot including two major blasts. The first went into the second deck in center field, estimated at 430ft. The second, and his final home run, came four rows shy of clearing out of Target Field to left field on the flex ball.
Too bad the same couldn’t be said for Josh Donaldson (3), Justin Morneau (2), and defending champion Yoenis Cespedes (3). The under-performance resulted in a swing-off between Frazier and Morneau, and another between teammates Donaldson and Cespedes, with Frazier and Cespedes surviving the playoff.
On to Round Two.
With Bautista and Stanton getting byes into the third round, that left duels between Frazier and Tulowitzki, followed by Cespedes versus Jones.
Frazier found a groove to lead-off the second round. After putting just 3 balls in the seats in the first round, even after extra swings, the Reds’ third baseman notched six in the second round, putting the weight on the Rockies shortstop to step up. Well, Tulowitzki had trouble finding a good swing, consistently putting himself out in front of the ball and only managing two home runs in the second round. Frazier heads to the semi-finals.
After a 2013 show for the ages, Cespedes found himself in an odd spot, having to battle in the second round. Well, the round suited him just fine, as Cespedes quickly put together a 9-home run round. I say quick because every one Cespedes hit was out in a hurry, and he was quickly coiled up and waiting for the next pitch. Unfortunately for Jones, that was a big hurdle to jump, as he managed just three bombs in response, setting up a semi-final that included Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Yoenis Cespedes, and Todd Frazier.
The National League got us started in the semi-final, and let’s just say it was a major let down. Frazier, undoubtedly tired after two rounds and a swing-off, managed just one home run. However, that was enough, as after putting up a couple of mammoth blasts in the first round, the layoff hurt Stanton. The Marlins’ slugger couldn’t muster a single ball out of the park in the third round, allowing a guy with one home run to advance to the final.
In the AL round, Cespedes got his shot first, and took full advantage of having the hot bat. His seven home runs in the round shamed the output of Stanton and Frazier, but also set the bar high for our hero, who had now sat for close to two hours time between at-bats.
Bautista struggled notching just one home run in his first five swings. However, he produced two more home runs in his next two swings, giving Blue Jays fans hope. However, it was for naught as he would manage just one more over his final four swings and putting just four out of the yard in the semi-final and bowed out in favor of Yoenis Cespedes.
In the final, Cespedes again lead-off, and once again put on a solid show. The defending champ saved his longest home runs of the night for the finale, including a 466ft missile. He also managed his highest output of the evening, setting the bar high with a nine-spot, giving him 30 total on the evening.
Considering that Frazier had only managed 10 home runs all evening heading into the final, that seemed like a fairly decent cushion to play with. The Reds’ third baseman didn’t disappoint either, staying consistent for the night and only a single home run in the final, and handing the crown again to Cespedes.