For all of the shit Major League Baseball gets, one thing they 100% got right is the home run derby. Not that the old way of doing the derby was really that bad, but Mark Teixeira even said it last night; with the old rules (ten outs), it might take five or six swings before you really hit a groove.
Now though since 2015, competitors have four minutes to hit as many homers as they possibly can and let me tell you, it makes for some fantastic television! The home run derby has turned into THE premier All Star Weekend Event in any sport. Last night, as expected, was spectacular. It started off with the 8 seed Rhys Hoskins smoking 17 homers with his sweet, smooth stroke. After that the big, bad 5 seed Kyle Schwarber took 16 balls yard. He was paired with 4 seed, Alex Bregman who had 15 homers with about five seconds left and put one off the top of the wall to lose.
(Last few swings start at 4:50)
Next up was the electric Javy Baez who hit 16 including the longest ball of the night at 479 feet (below is a video of the five longest of the night).
He was outdone by the feel-good story Max Muncy from the Dodgers who hit 17 with about 20 seconds to spare. The final matchup was Freddie Freeman, who apparently hasn’t hit a home run in batting practice in THREE YEARS against the hometown hero Bryce Harper. Harper took down Freeman to move onto the second round.
Rhys Hoskins came back out in the second round and actually outdid himself by putting TWENTY GODDAMN BALLS OUT OF THE PARK. From a baseball perspective, Hoskin’s swing is so simple and compact. A thing of beauty. Something that might make a baseball guy like myself get aroused. Anyways 20 homers was the high of the night so obviously Schwarber had his work cut out for him.
(MLB only has videos of the entire rounds so this is like a 14 minute video)
Schwarber was the round winner as time expired and gave a nice little bat flip. On the other side of the bracket, Harper took out Muncy to set up an exciting final round between Schwarber and Harper, two of the most prolific young power hitters in the game.
Schwarber followed up his 21 homer round with a round of 18 bombs. Then with about a minute left, and Harper down nine, he went on an absolute tear and cut the lead to one still with the thirty second bonus round to go (because he hit at least two over 440 feet). Two swings, and one weird, two-handed bat flip later, it was over. Harper draped in stars and stripes won. Just the third home run derby champion to win in their home park and more importantly got his dad (who was pitching to him) off the hook as that got the yips of the century with about two minutes left. Couldn’t even come close to finding the plate (I wouldn’t say that to his face though).Bravo though to another awesome home run derby. MLB, you done good on this one!