It took a round for Oakland A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to find his groove in the 201 Home Run Derby. But once he did, he was unstoppable.
After hitting three dingers in the first round, the 2013 Derby champ needed a three-swing tie-break against teammate Josh Donaldson to advance to the second round. After that, he was untouchable. Cespedes hit nine homers in the second round, seven in the third, and nine in the final against Cincinnati's Todd Frazier to win back-to-back Derby titles — the first time a player has done that since Ken Griffey Jr. won consecutive championships in 1998 and 1999.
"I'm somebody who's very conscious of the power that I have," Cespedes said. "So I don't need to put more of a swing or more of an effort in order to hit a home run. I just have to look for a good pitch and put a good swing on it, and it usually takes care of it."
Cespedes jacked 30 home runs in all during the competition, including a 452-foot moonshot in the final round that landed in the third deck of Target Field. It was officially the longest home run of the competition.
But Marlins slugger Ginacarlo Stanton's first-round blast is what everyone will be talking about at today's All-Star Game. He hit six home runs in the round, and his sixth homer was an absolute monster. It traveled an estimated 510 feet and was only a few rows shy of leaving Target Field.
"That was the charity ball, too," Stanton said. (A few pitches in each round used orange balls as part of a fundraising program sponsored by Gillette. A home run off of one of those balls was worth $10,000 for charity.) "You never know how those are going to fly. It's tough to pick those up as well, so that's definitely cool."
Stanton's six home runs earned him a second-round bye, but in the third round against Frazier he hit zero into the stands. (And Frazier only hit one.) "I can't believe I goose-egged my second round," Stanton said after the Derby.
It wasn't the only power outage in the tournament. The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig was an early favorite to win the Derby. But when he finally got to the plate he checked his first swing for an out, then anxiously swung at nearly every pitch he saw. He ended the first round — and his time in the contest — quickly and with zero HRs.
Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP Photo