The 2018 Home Run Derby took place with eight of Major League Baseball’s top sluggers taking their swings at 8 P.M. at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
The seeding for the Derby was as follows:
• No. 1 – Jesús Aguilar, Milwaukee Brewers
• No. 2 – Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
• No. 3 – Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers
• No. 4 – Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
• No. 5 – Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs
• No. 6 – Javier Báez, Chicago Cubs
• No. 7 – Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
• No. 8 – Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies
Many of Major League Baseball’s top sluggers refused to participate, such as J.D. Martinez, Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, Giancarlo Stanton, and Mike Trout among others, but despite the lack of interest from many players, the event was a smash, so here is your recap of the festivities.
Jesus Aguilar (1) vs. Rhys Hoskins (8)
Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins went first, annihilating 17 home runs, which turned out to be more than enough to hold off Aguilar, who hit just 12. Hoskins got into a groove, while Aguilar struggled to keep pace and refused to use his final timeout until he had about a minute and a half remaining.
Hoskins’ longest home run went 463 feet and he maxed out in exit velocity at 108 MPH. As for the number one seed Aguilar, those numbers were 428 feet and 106 MPH.
While Aguilar easily topped Hoskins in first-half home runs with 24, Hoskins was no slouch with 14 and let’s not forget, first-half home runs don’t count in the Home Run Derby.
Alex Bregman (4) vs. Kyle Schwarber (5)
Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber thought that his 16 first round home runs would easily be enough to beat out Astros’ third baseman Alex Bregman, especially since he qualified for the additional 30 seconds and Bregman was very unlikely to do so.
Bregman made it interesting, hitting 15 and with his final swing, and final chance to tye Shwarber at 16, Bregman hit a long fly ball out to left field that just barely missed clearing the fence, and since Bregman did not qualify for the additional 30 seconds (2 home runs of 440 feet or more), he was eliminated in the thrilling first-round matchup.
Schwarber’s longest home run went 450 feet while Bregman topped out at 413 feet. Despite Bregman’s lack of distance, he came within one home run of Schwarber who also had an additional 30 seconds and for that, we should applaud his effort.
Bryce Harper (2) vs. Freddie Freeman (7)
While Daryll and I both thought that Freddie Freeman would quietly win the Home Run Derby with his short, compact swing that makes him one of the best in the game every year, one of the announcers calling the Derby said it best, “…fun just watching Freddie Freeman hit, just not great for Home Run Derby.”
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper advanced to the second round of the 2018 Home Run Derby, swatting 13 home runs to best the 12 hit by Braves first baseman, Freddie Freeman. Harper was a Number 2 seed to Freeman’s Number 7, so while the outcome came as a disappointment to most Braves and Freddie Freeman fans, it was not a shocking outcome. The hometown crowd in Washington, D.C. were certainly pleased that their star has advanced.
Harper earned the additional 30 seconds of bonus time after hitting two home runs that went 440 feet or total, but since he got to 13 with time to spare in regulation, Harper didn’t need the additional 30 seconds.
Harper maxed out at 467 feet in distance and 113 MPH in exit velocity (Freeman topped out at 437 feet). When interviewed on the field after his performance, Harper announced, out of breath, “I’m tired!”
Max Muncy (3) vs. Javier Baez (6)
Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs went first and put up a strong round with 16 home runs. Baez got off to a rough start, but once he and his brother, Gadiel (who was pitching to Baez), got on the same page, Baez went off. Despite Baez’s efforts, Max Muncy went off on a tear and hit 17 home runs with 35 seconds left in the round, and that is not even counting the additional 30 seconds (which Muncy did not qualify for).
Muncy topped out at 435 feet with Baez topping out with a much more impressive 479 feet. Despite the difference in peak distance, it is the Home Run Derby, unfortunately for Baez, not the Distance Derby.
Rhys Hoskins (8) vs. Kyle Schwarber (5)
Hoskins hit first and posted a fear-inducing 20 home runs, but since Kyle Schwarber fears no home run hitter, he gladly took on the challenge and after getting off to a slow start, Schwarber began to hit ball after ball after ball out of the Ballpark and into our Nation’s Capital’s stratosphere and Shwarber narrowly tied Hoskins at 20 home runs with 8 seconds left in the round. After rolling over on the next pitch, Schwarber hit a monstrous blast out to left field to win the round and advance to the final without even needing the additional 30 seconds. Schwarber even threw in a bat flip afetr winning to amp the Nationals’ crowd up even more.
Bryce Harper (2) vs. Max Muncy (3)
After Max Muncy went off in the First Round against Baez with 17 home runs with 35 seconds left, Muncy regressed dramatically with just 12 long balls in the Semifinals. Bryce Harper had absolutely no problem dismantling Muncy and made it to the Finals with ease after hitting 13 home runs to walk the Semifinals off. The Nationals’ hometown representative had the chance to win the Derby in his home ballpark, the only thing standing in his way, Kyle Schwarber.
Bryce Harper (2) vs. Kyle Schwarber (5)
Bryce Harper, who said himself that he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared exhausted in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But after hitting just 5 home runs with 2 minutes and 5 seconds left on the clock, Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet, and with his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for Number 19. He flung his bat in triumph, seized his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was swarmed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper became the third player to ever win a Home Run Derby at their home ballpark, joining Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandburg in 1990. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2011 and is the first member of the Montreal Expos or Washington Nationals to win a Home Run Derby. Harper Lost the contest in 2013 to Yoenis Cespedes and a full 5-years later, he can finally call himself Home Run Derby Champion.