MINNEAPOLIS — Yoenis Cespedes was still going. Never mind the hour-long rain delay or the intermittent drizzle. He was still cranking homers and they weren’t getting any shorter, finding the second deck in left field with regularity.
Cespedes won his second consecutive Home Run Derby Monday night, pumping 30 balls out of Target Field and defeating Todd Frazier in the final.
“This year was a little more difficult because there were only seven outs instead of 10,” Cespedes said in Spanish, with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez translating.
Cespedes, an Oakland Athletics outfielder, became the second player in Derby history to win two years in a row and did so for the first time since Ken Griffey Jr. did it in 1998-99. His 30 homers gave him 62 total in Derbies, sixth all-time behind David Ortiz, Griffey Jr., Prince Fielder, Jason Giambi and Sammy Sosa.
“I don’t need to put more of a swing or more of an effort to hit a home run,” Cespedes said regarding his success.
Cespedes needed to win a swing-off to make it out of the first round, but took off from there. He hit nine in the second round, seven in the third and nine in the final.
Frazier had his older brother Charlie, a former minor league pitcher with the Florida Marlins organization for six seasons, pitch to him.
“There really was no decision, I knew I was going to take him,” Frazier said Monday afternoon before the Derby. “I work with him in the offseason a lot.”
Cespedes defeated American League captain Jose Bautista, 7-4, in the AL semifinals. Bautista, like Giancarlo Stanton, earned a second-round bye in the new Derby format, meaning they sat for a long time between their rounds.
“I think it was difficult for people like Bautista and Stanton because they did have to wait so long between,” Cespedes said.
Frazier managed only one home run in the semifinals, a total that didn’t figure to stand a chance against Stanton. But Stanton went 0 for the semis, and Frazier’s lone homer sent him to the final.
Stanton, who has the second-longest home run this season at 484 feet, didn’t disappoint the Target Field crowd in the first round. He hit six homers, putting one midway up the third deck in left field – which corresponds to about seven rows of seats shy of leaving the stadium entirely. He hit another into the seats above the batter’s eye in dead center field, which at Target Field takes some doing.
Frazier picked it up in the second round, eliminating NL captain Troy Tulowitzki six homers to two.
Frazier, Tulowitzki and Brian Dozier struggled in the Derby’s first round, which began after an hour-long rain delay. They hit a combined nine homers. Bautista upped the ante, wearing out the first few rows of the upper deck in left field by hitting 10 home runs.
Cespedes advanced to the quarterfinals by winning a swing-off against Athletics teammate Josh Donaldson. Frazier beat Justin Morneau, the 2008 Derby champion and a crowd favorite as a former Twin, in a swing-off as well.
“I knew [Donaldson] wasn’t going to win because his mentality was to take the ball out of the stadium, and I told him that is not the way you win this competition,” Cespedes said.
Yasiel Puig, who has 12 homers this season and is starting for the NL in right field tonight, exhausted his seven outs without hitting a homer.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published July 15, 2014 12:23 AM