Home Run Derby tracker: Aaron Judge coasts to victory with astonishing performance
- Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are the favorites, but can Cody Bellinger or Miguel Sano spoil the party? Follow along with our Home Run Derby live blog!
10:51 p.m.: The new Derby format is still a winner
Connor Grossman: For a third consecutive year, the real winner of the Home Run Derby is the clock. The timing mechanism added in plenty of drama to the first-round matchups that proved difficult to watch in years past. From Moustakas’ struggles to hit a matchup-tying home run in the final minute to Stanton’s mad dash to catch Sanchez’s 18 first-round homers, there was no lack of early excitement. Unfortunately, it didn’t really carry over into the later rounds.
Judge clearly deserved to win his first derby title, but I can’t help but feel for Bour. Playing in his home ballpark, Bour’s 22 first-round bombs topped everyone else except the eventual championship. Sano, for example, hit his way to the finals with 22 home runs combined in the first two rounds. There’s no reasonable way to introduce a “wild card” round to the derby—and it probably doesn’t need one—but if nothing else, tough-luck seeding deprived Marlins fans of seeing one of their own swing a little bit longer on Monday night.
Jay Jaffe: Are there actual Marlins fans, though? Certainly, the two hometown players were the hard-luck ones, and falling at the hands of the two Yankees. That's gonna keep Jeffrey Loria awake at night, though he'll finally fall asleep counting the billions he'll make off selling the team.
The clock and head-to-head elements are vast improvements. I will say that it felt odd watching this year without Chris Berman's endless backbackback shtick. Yes, I'm among those who felt as though its time had passed as part of this event, but have to admit that I did sort of miss his booming voice nonetheless, and I was a bit touched when Karl Ravech paid tribute late in the Derby with a backbackbackbackback.
10:30 p.m.: Judge makes it a night to remember
Jay Jaffe: In all, this was an entertaining spectacle, albeit a bit of a front-loaded one. The three most dramatic matchups all came in the first round, with the Stanton-Sanchez and Bour-Judge parings producing incredible drama. After that, Bellinger's showing in the semis and Sano's in the finals both fell a bit short, but watching Judge counter those with 480- or 500-footers at will, and deliver on the considerable hype by winning the competition as a rookie, was still a sight to behold.
10: 27 p.m.: Aaron Judge is your champion
Jay Jaffe: As with the semifinals against Bellinger, Judge went into his final round aiming for a bar that it seemed he could clear without breaking a sweat. In fact, the 25-year-old Yankee didn’t even need to take the first of his two timeouts before beating Sano. He hit four homers in the first 30 seconds, including shots of 469 and 480 feet, and six by the end of the first minute. He tied Sano at the 2:15 mark to the base of the Dinger Machine, and won it at 1:55 with a 458-foot line drive to right center.
10:21 p.m.: Miguel Sano struggles in final round
Connor Grossman: Unlike the semifinals, Sano did not have the luxury of going second in the finals against Judge. He didn’t do himself any favors by getting off to a sluggish start, leading him to finish with 10 homers in the final round. Lightning flashed through the windows of Marlins Park as Sano’s first homer carried over the wall, but that was all he could muster before using his first timeout at the 2:34 mark.
He slugged three consecutive long balls to get on a little bit of a roll before stitching together a nice run in the finals seconds. Needing one more home run of 440-plus feet to earn bonus time, Sano clubbed one long enough with his final swing in regulation. Unfortunately for the Twins stud, the extra 30 seconds were a moot point. He didn’t clear the fence once, clearly fatigued and trying to work with spotty location from pitcher Fernando Tatis. By Judge’s standards, he won’t have too big of a climb to win his first home run derby crown.
10:05 p.m.: Aaron Judge easily drops Cody Bellinger to head to final round
Jay Jaffe: After great surges late in their respective rounds carried them into the semifinals, Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge squared off in the dream rookie-on-rookie matchup. The 21-year-old Dodger homered on his second swing, but as with the first round, he had trouble establishing momentum, and soon it was clear that he was gassed from his late first-round effort. He hit just three in his first minute, and had a mere five when he took a time out at 2:13. He finished with a modest 12, and didn’t get even one to 440 feet, leaving him without the bonus time.
Judge, by contrast, looked at ease, bashing homers with his first two swings, and five within the first minute including a 474-footer. After a well-placed timeout at 2:48, he bashed four straight after the rest, and then hit towering shots of 504 and 513 feet—the two longest of the Derby—just moments later. He tied Bellinger with 1:11 remaining, and still had more than a minute on the clock when his titanic 507-foot shot to left-center carried him into the finals.
9:52 p.m.: Miguel Sano defeats Gary Sanchez to advance to final round
Connor Grossman: After a gripping first round that featured 128 long balls—an average of 16 per contestant—Sanchez and Sano didn’t provide the same level of fireworks in their semifinal matchup. The Yankees catcher appeared a bit fatigued from his 17 first-round homers and fell to Sano, 11–10.
The Twins slugger didn’t need the extra time he earned to outhit Sanchez. Sano hit four home runs in the first minute and totaled six long balls by the time he used his timeout with two minutes remaining. To get within one homer of Sanchez, Sano knocked one of the scoreboard with 70 seconds to go before tying his opposing number a few moments later. Sano sealed a spot in the finals (also eliminating the possibility of an all-Yankees derby finale) on a line drive that sailed over the left field wall with plenty of time to spare.
Sanchez started his round particularly slow, totaling only four home runs by the time he took a timeout at the 2:04 mark. He had already earned extra time at that point but only managed one homer in his bonus 30 seconds.
9:32 Aaron Judge knocks out Justin Bour in round for the ages
Jay Jaffe: The most obscure participant in the tournament, Justin Bour, got started quickly, banking five homers in the first 70 seconds, only one of which was longer than 408 feet. That helped to speed up his pace, since the rules prevent a player from being pitched to until the previous ball has landed. At the 1:46 mark, Bour hit a 446-footer, the first of two needed to unlock the bonus, and had tallied 12 by the time he took his timeout at the 1:24 mark; the last of those fell a foot short of bonus territory at 439 feet. A flurry of homers after the timeout, including 445-and 447-footers, ran his first-round total to 19, the highest of the round to that point. He added three more during the bonus time, including a personal best 464-footer. That earned a chest bump from an elated Stanton, who after bowing out himself appeared to revel in cheering on his teammate.
Needing a daunting 23 homers to top Bour and advance, Judge had no trouble getting in the groove, getting three in the first 30 seconds. At the 2:30 mark, he hit one a jaw-dropping 501 feet over the Dinger Machine, but his pace had slowed down; he had “only” seven homers when he took his timeout at 2:16. It proved to be a well-placed break, as his first four swings afterwards produced homers, and he just kept raining shots all over the outfield. By the time regulation had finished, Judge appeared to have tied Bour at 22. He hit the rightfield wall with his first swing in bonus time, but even after getting his apparent 23rd homer, remained in the box; it turned out a shot that had hit the roof during regulation, one that the ESPN booth thought counted for a home run, had not in fact been scored as such. No matter. After tying Bour with a blast just to the right of the Dinger machine, he soon advanced.
9:12 p.m. Cody Bellinger comes back to knock out Charlie Blackmon
Connor Grossman: NL West sluggers Charlie Blackmon and Cody Bellinger lived up to the difficult task of following the epic battle between Stanton-Sanchez. In the third straight derby matchup decided by one home run, Bellinger edged Blackmon, 15–14, with a soaring shot to right field in extra time to advance to the semifinals.
The Dodgers rookie slugger clubbed six home runs through the first 2:10 before using his timeout. With his father and former major leaguer Clay Bellinger throwing to him, Cody did just enough to earn the 30 extra seconds that Blackmon didn’t. He crushed a home run with three ticks left in regulation to earn extra time while still trailing, 14-13. He made the most of his final few swings to take down Blackmon, who was equal parts boring and efficient in his turn.
Blackmon didn’t hit any skyscrapers like his predecessors—he was the first derby participant not to garner extra time—but he connected often enough to build a respectable cushion. He hit only five home runs through the first two minutes before going on a tear in the second half of his four-minute window. The longest of his 14 home runs traveled 434 feet, and like most of his homers, it landed comfortably into the right field bleachers.
8:52 p.m.: Gary Sanchez outlasts Giancarlo Stanton in legendary round
Jay Jaffe: What a round! Gary Sanchez, the number eight seed by dint of having the lowest home run total at the July 5 cutoff, quickly made it clear that he wasn’t going to roll over for the hometown favorite—or, for that matter, teammate Aaron Judge. He got on the board at 3:34 with a 460-footer, and unlocked the distance bonus soon afterwards with a 462-footer.
With seven others of at least 440 feet—including a 483-footer in the final minute, he finished regulation with 15 homers. He opened up the bonus time with a 468-foot shot, and ended his round with 17, a daunting total for Stanton to take aim at even beyond the pressure of being the top seed and the hometown hero.
Despite swinging at a much quicker pace than the previous sluggers, Stanton didn’t homer until his fifth swing and hit just two through the first minute. He clubbed a 496-footer for his third homer, but had just four when he took his timeout at the 2:31 mark. Finally, he found his groove, unlocking the bonus with a 482-footer, and topping that with his next swing, a 485-footer ... and then going further with 492. After that, 480, 487, 489.
Around the one-minute mark, however, with his total at 13, Stanton ran out of gas and popped up several in a row. Just when it looked as though he was cooked, he added two bombs in the final 10 seconds of regulation to reach 15, including the five longest of the competition thus far, all of at least 485 feet. But it took him until there were seven seconds left in bonus time to add number 16, and then pitcher Pat Shine took too long to release his final pitch, which Stanton popped up after the buzzer sounded, staring skyward in frustration. Goliath was defeated.
8:30 p.m.: Miguel Sano holds off Mike Moustakas
Connor Grossman: Starting off with the 4-5 matchup, Miguel Sano and Mike Moustakas both took a little while to get going before an exciting finish sealed Sano’s victory, 11–10. Moustakas took several hacks in the final minute to try and tie Sano’s mark, but his last-second stroke landed on the warning track in right field. Sano provided plenty of excitement himself, clobbering five home runs over 440 feet and his longest at 470 feet.
8:00 p.m. Off We Go!
Fire up the dinger machine! The annual Home Run Derby features maybe its most formidable list of contestants in history. Will Giancarlo Stanton dominate on his home turf? Does rookie sensation Aaron Judge have the stamina to unseat the betting favorite and continue his magical first year in the big leagues? Or will it be one of the other, less-heralded contenders? Dodgers wunderkind Cody Bellinger has plenty of power in his lefthanded stroke, Miguel Sano's mammoth power goes mostly unnoticed in Minnesota, and Marlins' powerhouse Justin Bour can fire up the hometown fans just like his more popular teammate.
For starters, check out Emma Span's handicapping of the derby as well as Jay Jaffe's analysis of whether Judge or Bellinger can achieve 60 home runs this season.
Follow all the action with SI.com analysts Jay Jaffe and Connor Grossman, who will be here to provide all the tweets, videos and analysis of one of the most entertaining nights during the baseball season. We're here watching, so come join us!