Yoenis Cespedes and Ken Griffey Jr. That is the entire list of players who have won back-to-back Home Run Derbies after Cespedes successfully defended his 2013 crown with another victory in 2014. Add Prince Fielder to the list and you have everyone who has ever won more than one Derby at all since the contest debuted in 1985.
Cespedes got off to a slow start in the first round, hitting only three bombs within his allotment of seven outs. In the damp Minnesota air, though, that was good enough to tie for third on the AL team in a situation where the top three hitters from each league moved on. Cespedes then defeated teammate Josh Donaldson in the swing-off to make it through the first round, breezed past Adam Jones of the Orioles in the second round (9-3), out-hit team captain Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays in the third round (7-4), and then smashed NL champ Todd Frazier of the Reds in the final round (9-1) to seal the title. The nine homers Cespedes hit in the final round were as many as Frazier had hit in all three rounds combined to that point, so there was little doubt about the impending outcome when the Reds' third baseman stepped to the plate.
The victory by Cespedes is the third for an Athletics player, joining Mark McGwire in 1992 and himself last year. Of course, despite being one of the most decorated players in Home Run Derby history, and a current All-Star, and a member of back-to-back division winning teams, ESPN announcer
Chris Berman Chrous Bormorg still can't say his name right. He's closer than last year, as he's now going with "yo-EH-knees" which he could possibly pass off as mostly proper Spanish pronunciation if he could convince anyone that he was saying that because he knew how to properly pronounce Spanish and not just because he couldn't be bothered to ask anyone how to pronounce things before going to his job in which one of his main duties is to pronounce things correctly (technically, an "i" sounds like an "ee" in Spanish, as you may have noticed when Pedro Gomez said the name in the trophy ceremony at the end, but the clearly accepted pronunciation is "yo-EHN-iss").
The weather clearly played a role in this Derby. Rain delayed the start for over half an hour, and the home run totals were relatively low. Yasiel Puig failed to hit even one in the first round, and Brian Dozier, Justin Morneau, and Todd Frazier were each limited to two (Frazier beat Morneau in a swing-off to advance out of the first round). Troy Tulowitzki managed only a pair in the second round, and the NL's third round ended up as a 1-0 victory for Frazier over Giancarlo Stanton. That's right, Stanton went a whole round without hitting a dinger. That's when you know the weather is broken and needs to be fixed. Maybe an open-air stadium in Minnesota was a dumb idea after all.
Excluding his swing-off with Donaldson, Cespedes hit 28 total home runs within his limit of 28 outs (in four total rounds). He hit 32 last year, when he had 25 outs to work with in three rounds. MLB.com hasn't posted videos of the final rounds yet as I write this, so here is Yo knocking a bunch of dingers in the second round.
Yo knows homers. Literally better than anyone else in baseball, in batting practice at least. Now let's hold our breaths and hope that he doesn't miss the first week of the second half with a hand/wrist injury, like he did last year (four games with wrist soreness). Don't worry about things you can't control, though. Just enjoy an A's player being at the top of the national spotlight for an evening. Until Derek Norris hits a walk-off, pinch-hit homer to win the All-Star Game on Tuesday, of course.
On a personal note, I have to say that I enjoyed this Derby more than in years past. The new format really did help things move along with fewer outs in the early rounds, and the bracket style definitely makes every sporting event more fun. The only downside I could possibly come up with is that receiving the second-round bye meant that Bautista and Stanton had to sit around for a really long time before their third-round matchups, and it's tough not to notice that each then struggled in those third rounds. But otherwise, MLB really nailed it with this format. And I don't compliment MLB unless I really mean it.