Last night’s Home Run Derby had a lot of people wondering: How is this going to go? There was a new format — timed rounds, not ones based on outs — plus a seeded bracket that pit some of baseball’s heaviest hitters in a March Madness-like elimination contest.
Turned out, it went great. And that was thanks in no small part to the winner, Cincinnati Reds slugger Todd Frazier, who dazzled the hometown crowd.
A nasty storm rolled through Cincinnati before the Derby. So MLB decided to cut the timed rounds down from five minutes to four to make sure they got the contest in before more bad weather hit. But that didn’t stop Frazier and the seven other contestants from putting on maybe the best Home Run Derby ever.
The eight batters combined for 159 home runs with distances averaging more than 400 feet per blast. Albert Pujols led the pack with his 11 second-round homers averaging 434 feet. (He lost to Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson, who walloped 12 home runs.)
But it was Frazier’s night. The number two seed defeated number seven Prince Fielder in the first round, then three seed Josh Donaldson in the semis, and Pederson in the finals. He hit a total of 39 dingers, including 15 in the championship round. He was the first player to win the Derby in his home stadium since Chicago Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg did it in 1990.
Frazier was the runner-up in last year’s Derby, and he said that pushed him to win it this season.
"I wanted to get back here,” Frazier said. “I’d been working in the offseason a little bit. I'm just glad it was in Cincinnati and they could enjoy it with me."
If you missed the Derby, here’s a video recap of Frazier's championship performance:
Photos: Jeff Roberson/AP (trophy), John Grieshop/MLB Photos via Getty Images (at bat)