SPECIAL EDITION: Home Run Derby: YO KNOWS the LONGBALL
With a star-studded lineup of power-hitting prowess, this year’s Home Run Derby had the potential to be a dazzling show of the league’s finest bashers. The reigning champ Prince Fielder, “The Phenom” Bryce Harper, the NL Captain David “Captain America” Wright, the AL Captain Robbie Cano “Dontcha Know,” the Cuban Missile a.k.a. “La Potencia,” a.k.a. Yoenis Cespedes, veteran slugger Michael Cuddyer, El Toro Pedro Alvarez and let’s not forget the major league leader in home runs, Chris “Crush” Davis.
As the first round came to a close, Yoenis Cespedes stood well above the pack with 17 homers, of which it seemed that about half had ended up in the third deck at Citi Field, which is no pedestrian feat. Cespedes led by a fairly wide margin as Bryce Harper and Michael Cuddyer each hit eight while Chris Davis parked only seven in Round One.
Cespedes would meet Harper in the finals after Harper edged out Cuddyer in Round Two. Cespedes, who didn’t even need to take a swing in the second round, added six long balls just for show. And that’s what this event is all about anyway, right? Ballerish.
The final round with Harper was electrifying. Harper’s father Ron threw a total of 120 pitches to his talented progeny over the course of the night, even plunking his son once which caused a chuckle from both parties and the crowd. Harper slammed some of the fastest-to-leave-the-park shots as he went on to hit eight homers in the final round, awaiting Cespedes's performance to determine his destiny. Cespedes did not disappoint. The Oakland basher slammed eight homers before capping off his first ever MLB Home Run Derby championship with a 455-foot blast to dead-center field and promptly executing the most wonderful bat flip in the history of bat flips to put the exclamation point on an amazing power display. Cespedes was the first ever non-All-Star invitee who went on to win the event.
For those worried about Cespedes messing up his swing, let’s not forget that the Cuban slugger participated in five such events in Cuba (one of which he won). I actually think this could boost him to a better start the second half. Cespedes been scuffling with a .225 average coming into the break and this could give him a chance to knock the first half cobwebs out.
AL Hot Shots:
- Chris Davis popped a callus on his hand during the homerun derby but is still expected to start for the AL team on Tuesday.
- Alex Rodriguez homered in his rehab game for Double-A Trenton. He could be back as soon as July 22.
- Clay Buchholz is scheduled to throw a bullpen Thursday after feeling soreness after his Sunday workout. He’s been out with shoulder soreness since early June.
- Brett Wallace is hitting .298 with a .976 OPS since his recall from Triple-A. He should be owned in all formats right now, but be wary of his streakiness.
NL Hot Shots:
- Matt Harvey will be the NL Starter for the All Star Game, edging out Clayton Kershaw for the honor in his home park in New York. It was the right move by Skipper Bruce Bochy.
- Brian Bogusevic, who was forced to leave Sunday’s game due to a hammy injury, will likely miss a few games after the break. Julio Borbon figures to see regular at bats for a week or so, which could give him time to heat up. Borbon has intriguing speed and pop but has not gotten a chance at every day at-bats since coming over from the Rangers on waivers.
I have nothing more to add other than, YO KNOWS!!!! Cespedes is my favorite player in all of baseball, so tonight I felt like a kid watching Griffey, Sosa and McGwire again. I own him in fantasy and, like a child with his blankey, I will never let him go. La Potencia is my man-crush fo sho!
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