Yoenis Cespedes’ reign at the Home Run Derby continues…
The 28-year-old Cuban baseball star, an outfielder for the Oakland Athletics, has become the first repeat winner of the All-Star skills contest in 15 years.
Cespedes powered his way past the Cincinnati Reds’ Todd Frazier 9-1 in the final round Monday night to successfully defend his title.
Ken Griffey Jr. was the last back-to-back winner, taking the title in 1998 and 1999.
With a serious, determined look on his face the entire time, Cespedes finished with 28 homers. That was four fewer than last year, when he beat the Washington Nationals‘ Bryce Harper 9-8 in the final round.
Cespedes even told Athletics teammate Josh Donaldson he was doing this wrong.
“I knew he 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 through an interpreter.
He added: “I’m somebody who’s very conscious of the power that I have. So I don’t need to put more of a swing or more of an effort in order to hit a home run. I just have to look for a good pitch and put a good swing on it, and it usually takes care of it.”
Cespedes saved his best for last, a 452-foot blast to the third deck above left field that officially measured as the longest shot of the night.
A’s third-base coach Mike Gallego again pitched to Cespedes, who went deep 32 times in last year’s derby at Citi Field in New York. Gallego’s arm looked nearly out of gas by the final round.
“Maybe next year I’ll put up a better showing at the end,” Frazier said. “Now that I understand, maybe I’ll do a couple of more push-ups.”
Cespedes topped Toronto’s Jose Bautista and Frazier surprisingly beat Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton in the semifinals.