Yoenis Cespedes Wins 2013 Home Run Derby
The stars were out early in New York on Monday night and the league’s best hitters dropped bombs all over Citi Field, but at the end of it all, an unexpected champion emerged.
Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes bested a field of seven other top sluggers, including hometown favorite David Wright, to win the 2013 Home Run Derby. After beating Washington’s Bryce Harper 9-8 in the final round, he became the first non-All-Star to win the coveted title.
In being the only player in the field who wasn’t set to play in tonight’s Mid-Summer Classic, Cespedes didn’t have much buzz surrounding him coming into the event, especially with the league’s home run leader – Chris Davis – and two former Derby champions – Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano – among the eight competitors. Still, he rose to the top, hitting 32 home runs in all, with 17 coming in the opening round.
“I felt that I was getting into a very good rhythm, and that as long as the ball was right over the plate, I felt like I was in a good groove,” Cespedes said through a translator, according to ESPN.com. “That was the key.”
Cespedes, who is only hitting .225 on the season with 15 homers, sprayed deep flies over every portion of Citi Field’s outfield fences. He hit several bombs into the upper deck in left field – an area where no player has hit the ball in an actual game – and also slammed some dingers off the restaurant windows just below.
“This trophy will motivate me so that things continue to go well for me, and I just want to thank the people that believed in me, that thought I could play at this level,” he said.
Cespedes was as in awe of the fans as they were of him. The second-year player from Cuba said he wasn’t used to the big stage, but he still enjoyed it.
“It’s far different from in Cuba,” he said. “There might be two people at our games. There’s only one photographer, and this is completely different and foreign to me. But I’m very happy to be here.”
Though his performance may not be a sign of things to come in real games down the stretch for the A’s, it was certainly something his teammates loved to see. Oakland, who entered the break with a slim two-game lead in the AL West, could always use a little more offensive firepower as they fend off the second-place Texas Rangers.
The National League is probably also happy that they don’t have to see Cespedes’ hot bat in the All-Star Game tonight, considering that the NL is only a slight favorite on the moneyline. But with many other big sluggers and heat-throwing hurlers taking the big stage tonight, you certainly won’t want to miss it. Tune in FOX at 8 p.m. EST. to see which league will nab home field advantage for the World Series.