Cespedes defends title, wins lackluster Derby

Cespedes defends title, wins lackluster Derby
July 15, 2014, 12:00 am
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MINNEAPOLIS — Major League Baseball made several tweaks to its Home Run Derby format this season in an attempt to both speed up the event and create more excitement.

Instead, a sellout crowd at Target Field and a national television audience were treated to a lackluster, rain-delayed affair that featured far fewer tape-measure shots than we'd been accustomed to seeing every summer.

In the end, Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics defended his crown and won his second straight Derby title, launching nine homers to Todd Frazier's one in the soggy, final round to join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only back-to-back champions in the history of this event. Cespedes hit 30 total homers on the night, two shy of the mark he set last year while winning at New York's Citi Field.

The Orioles' Adam Jones, a first-time participant, blasted four homers in the first round to advance, but then was trounced by Cespedes, 9-3, once the elimination round commenced.

This year's changes included a reduction of outs per round (7 instead of 10), a bracket-style format that pitted AL sluggers vs. NL sluggers and a second-round bye for the player in each league who launched the most first-round homers.

Those changes, though, appeared to have negative effects. The 7-out limit didn't give several players a chance to get warm before they were eliminated — Frazier, Brian Dozier and Justin Morneau each hit only two homers in the first round, while Yasiel Puig was shut out in his highly anticipated Derby debut.

The newly created bye, meanwhile, left first-round leaders Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Bautista sitting around in the cold for nearly two hours before their turns came up again. Each was beaten in his respective league finals.