Baseball – Frazier’s Effort No-Match for Record-Setting Stanton in MLB Home Run Derby
Todd Frazier might have been just the third player ever to win back-to-back Home Run Derbies on MLB All-Star weekend if not for, arguably, the greatest home-run-hitting exhibition ever by arguably the most powerful hitter on the planet right now.
The Toms River native and defending Derby champion finished second in Monday night's festivities at Petco Park in San Diego to Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who slammed a Derby record 60 home runs over his three rounds of action to win his first Derby crown.
Frazier won the Home Run Derby last summer at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati as a member of the hometown Reds - the first time the Derby ever used its new format. In the second year of the new format - which seeds the field for head-to-head, tournament-style contest and involves a time limit on each round rather than the 10-out limit from past years. He hit 39 total home runs over three rounds and beat Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson in the final with a 15-homer round.
On Monday night, Frazier topped his total from last year by hitting 42 home runs in three rounds but was still well short of Stanton's overall total, including in the head-to-head showdown in the championship round. Based on seeding of the Derby - based on first-half home run totals - Frazier got to watch Stanton blast 20 home runs before taking his turn. Frazier hit 13 balls over the wall in Petco to secure the title for Stanton.
Frazier reached the championship round by taking down Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez in the first round, hitting 13 home runs to Gonzalez's 12. Frazier had his best round in the semifinals against current Reds outfielder Adam Duvall, and he needed every last home run. Duvall clubbed 15 longballs during his turn, but Frazier chased him down, lining his 16th home run just over the left-field wall with 33 seconds left in his initial round.
Frazier would have been granted 30 extra seconds had he needed it based on hitting a home run longer than 440 feet - one of the new rules created in the updated format.
Stanton, meanwhile, hit 24 home runs in his first round to overwhelm Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, who hit only seven. Stanton needed only 30 swings to hit his 24 homers, which would have put him in position to break Josh Hamilton's single-round record of 28 from 2008 in Yankee Stadium. In the old format, batters had 10 outs (an out is any swing that does not result in a home run) to hit as many home runs as they could and had Stanton been swinging under those rules, he would have still had four outs remaining to hit five more home runs and break Hamilton's record.
While Stanton's second round featured his lowest home-run total (17), it was enough to beat the No. 1 seed in the Derby - Baltimore Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo - while also showcasing his power more than any other round. Six of his 17 home runs in the round flew farther than 480 feet, according to MLB.com Statcast data, including a 497-foot bomb that was his longest home run of the night.
Frazier's second-place finish means Ken Griffey, Jr. and Yoenis Cespedes remain the only two players to ever win the Home Run Derby in consecutive years. Griffey won the title in 1998 at Coors Field in Denver and again in 1999 at Fenway Park in Boston, while Cespedes won the 2013 contest at Citi Field in New York and again in 2014 at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Neither Stanton nor Frazier were selected to participate in Tuesday's All-Star Game in San Diego and were the only participants Monday to not make either the National or American League teams. Both former All-Stars made the trip out west solely for the Home Run Derby and both went the distance.
Both Stanton and Frazier are among the leaders in home runs this season, but both have also had their struggles. Stanton is hitting .233 with 20 home runs while striking out at a career-high 33.3 percent rate.
Frazier - in his first year with the Chicago White Sox after beginning his career in 2011 with the Reds - is hitting .213 with 25 home runs and is also striking out at a career-high clip of 23.2 percent. Frazier, however, is also running a career-high walk rate of 10.9 percent.