The king stayed the king at the Home Run Derby on Monday night, as Yoenis Cespedes successfully defended his title at Target Field. The Athletics' outfielder and Cuban slugger hit 30 homers overall, including nine in the final, to defeat newcomer Todd Frazier and become the first back-to-back Home Run Derby winner since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998-99.
With the Derby embracing a new format — American League versus National League, with players being seeded and going head-to-head from the second round onward — four players were knocked out in the first round. Brian Dozier and Yasiel Puig got the ax initially, with Puig failing to put up a single homer in his inaugural Derby. Cespedes advanced after a three-swing swing-off with teammate Josh Donaldson, while Frazier tied with Justin Morneau and then dispatched the former Twin in his own swing-off.
The top seeds, meanwhile, put up impressive numbers in the first round but were unable to advance to the final. Giancarlo Stanton, after a superb six-homer display in the first round that included a 510-foot blast to leftfield that nearly left the park, spent a long time on the sidelines as Frazier and NL captain Troy Tulowitzki battled to face him. Frazier survived and managed just one round-tripper in his semifinal, but Stanton, perhaps affected by a layoff of over an hour, put up a goose egg, sending Frazier to the final.
Jose Bautista, meanwhile, led all participants with 10 homers in the first round, only to have to wait for nearly two hours before facing Cespedes after the defending champion downed Adam Jones the round before. Although Bautista wasn't shut out like Stanton was, his four homers couldn't match up to Cespedes' seven.
As the rain came down during the final round, Cespedes went first and continued to mash homers with aplomb, cranking out nine, including several shots into the second and third decks in left. Frazier made five outs before connecting for his first home run, ensuring he wouldn't be shut out, but couldn't add to that total. The Reds' third baseman had narrowly escaped Stanton in the round before and just edged Morneau, but his luck ran out against Cespedes.
Cespedes is just the third player to win two Home Run Derbies in the contest's 30-year existence, joining Griffey and Prince Fielder, who won in 2009 and 2012.