The most anticipated Home Run Derby in recent memory did not disappoint, even though the expected champion came out on top.
Aaron Judge breezed through the bracket, putting on one of the greatest derby shows ever—and he wasn’t the only one to get the fans out of their seats with a prodigious display of power.
The first shock of the night came early, when Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez knocked defending champion and hometown favorite Giancarlo Stanton in the first round. Sanchez clobbered 17 home runs, and while Stanton went on a hot streak near the end of his round to overcome a slow start he still came up one homer short.
Sanchez’s win set up a semifinal matchup with Miguel Sano, who edged out Mike Moustakas in the first round.
Cody Bellinger then advanced to the semis in dramatic fashion, hitting a homer in bonus time to knock out Charlie Blackmon.
The best matchup of the night was the one to determine Bellinger’s semifinal opponent. Justin Bour of the host team looked to have given Aaron Judge a bit of trouble by hitting 22 homers but Judge hit 23 with relative ease. He would have had 24, except a ball he sent off the roof didn’t count. Judge was also the first competitor of the night to send a ball over 500 feet.
In the semis, Sanchez couldn’t pull off another upset against Sano and the Twins third baseman became the first man in the finals. Judge made quick work of Bellinger and advanced, as expected, to face Sano.
Sano looked fatigued, though, in the finals and took 50 seconds to hit his first home run. He managed just 10 in the round, which proved to be no problem for Judge. He needed just over two minutes to hit 11 homers and take home the trophy.
Judge is the first rookie to win the competition in its 32-year history.