The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby acted as the first big-ticket event during the annual Major League Baseball All Star Break. With Target Field playing host to the festivities, it was Yoenis Cespedes looking to once again reclaim his crown. In attempting to be a back to back winner of the Home Run Derby, he would be the first participant since Ken Griffey Jr. to do so.
Minnesotans and fans around from around the country kicked off the night wishing that the Twins still had the ceiling of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to shield them from the rain. As the drops fell, Major League Baseball decided to delay the start of the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby until the bulk of the storms had passed.
After a delay of right around an hour, the 2014 Home Run Derby, and its new format, were set for the first pitch. With each team’s five participants slugging away in the first round, three would move on, with one player from each league getting a bye in the second round.
Jose Bautista led the charge for the American League in round number one. With only seven outs at their disposal, participants would have to go deep early and often. Bautista did just that, en route to launching 10 big flys during his first time at the plate.
While Bautista is no stranger to hitting long balls at Target Field, there was another competitor who without a doubt stole the show in the first round. From the National League, Giancarlo Stanton launched a ball to left field that reached the upper most deck of Target Field. The hit traveled a project 510 feet, an absolute mammoth blast.
On the other end of the spectrum, weekly bat flipper Yasiel Puig looked all sorts of lost and confused at the plate. Quick outs spelled disaster for the Dodgers slugger, but beyond that, he looked less than enthused and almost like participation in the event was a chore.
While some definitely don’t feel the Home Run Derby is for them, a guy like Puig, who makes a career of being a showboat, really embarrassed himself on a big stage.
After round one, the American League sent Jose Bautista (top performer), Adam Jones, and Yoenis Cespedes on to the second round. For the National League, Giancarlo Stanton advanced and was granted a bye, while being joined by Todd Frazier and Troy Tulowitzki.
The underdog Frazier went on a nice run, slugging a strong six home runs in the second round, while Tulowitzki, could only muster two. Cespedes put on a show in the second round for the American League and knocked off Adam Jones by a 9 to 3 margin.
With Bautista and Cespedes facing off for the American League and Stanton going against Frazier, it seemed there was a clear representative for the National League in the finals.
Stanton however, failed to hit any home runs in the third round and Frazier advanced on a single home run. Cespedes kept up his hot hitting and cruised by Bautista to meet Frazier in the final.
It seemed all to perfect not to go right, and that ended up being the case for Yoenis Cespedes, as he easily defeated the Reds Frazier to defend his Home Run Derby title.
Once again, the story following the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby was that of time length. Many claimed the event dragged on despite the new format. Having been in the ballpark live, it seemed as though the crowd believed differently, until the end (a mass exodus occurred as Frazier took on Cespedes in the final).
With Major League Baseball staying committed to the event, fans continue to look for answers as to how to make the show more interesting. This morning on Mike and Mike, ESPN’s Mike Golic had an interesting proposition of having batters be timed, and hitting as many home runs as possible within the limit.
Whatever the change, and likely another will be coming, the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby produced some mammoth hits, but once again left much to be desire.