2017 Home Run Derby Live Blog

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First Round

Mike Moustakas (4) vs. Miguel Sano (5)

(8:22 PM ET) Sano hit nine home runs to kick off the Home Run Derby. With 30 seconds of bonus time from hitting two home runs 440 feet or further, Sano tacked on two more home runs to run his total up to 11. His longest home run went 470 feet and five of them went 440 feet or beyond.

(8:28 PM ET) Moustakas took a couple minutes to warm up, but he found his swing about halfway through. He took his timeout with 1:30 remaining and seven home runs. Moustakas didn’t accrue his bonus time and came up one home run short, finishing with 10 home runs. Sano advances to the second round narrowly, 11-10.

Giancarlo Stanton (1) vs. Gary Sanchez (8)

(8:37 PM ET) Sanchez put on a fireworks display. He very quickly hit a pair of home runs past 440 feet, earning 30 seconds of bonus time. He hit 12 before taking his timeout with 1:12 on the clock. Upon resuming, Sanchez hit another three to put himself at 15 with 30 seconds of bonus time. With those 30 seconds, Sanchez added two more to bring the total to 17. Stanton has a gargantuan task ahead of him.

(8:45 PM ET) Stanton couldn’t get any momentum going, though his fourth home run did go 496 feet. He took his timeout with 2:31 remaining and four dingers to his name. The timeout helped, as Stanton came back with a vengeance. He ran his total all the way up to 13 before Stanton appeared to tire. He hit two more just before time expired and his 30 bonus seconds activated. Stanton couldn’t do it, hitting just one home run, losing 17-16 to Sanchez. Sanchez, who Logan Morrison said shouldn’t have been in the Derby to begin with, knocked out the defending champion.

Cody Bellinger (3) vs. Charlie Blackmon (6)

(8:56 PM ET) Blackmon didn’t go on a serious run, but still got up to 10 dingers before taking his timeout with 1:09 on the clock. He hit another four before his time ran out. None of his home runs went past 440 feet, so he didn’t unlock 30 bonus seconds and had to walk away with 14.

(9:04 PM ET) Bellinger, like Blackmon, never went on a run of home runs. And it seemed like he wasn’t in a rush to take his swings, which might’ve hurt him. He hit six home runs before calling time out at 1:50. The time out helped, as he launched an additional seven and his final one unlocked his 30 bonus seconds just before time elapsed. He needed only a few swings to hit the necessary two homers to advance, 15-14 over Blackmon.

Aaron Judge (2) vs. Justin Bour (7)

(9:17 PM ET) Bour got into a groove, hitting 12 before deciding to take his timeout at 1:24. He motioned for the crowd to cheer loudly for him as teammate Stanton handed him a Gatorade. Bour’s first home run after the break went past 440, unlocking his bonus time. He went on a serious run after that, hitting another seven. With his bonus time, Bour smacked another three to bring his total to 22.

(9:25 PM ET) Judge was booed as he stepped to the plate with the unenviable task of having to at least match Bour’s total of 22 home runs to have a chance of advancing. Judge hit some impressive home runs, including one that went 501 feet, but he wasn’t matching Bour’s pace. Judge took his timeout with seven homers at 2:16 and his bonus time unlocked. As seemed to be the case for most hitters, the timeout did him good. Judge hit 15 home runs, including one to tie Bour just before regulation time expired. With 30 seconds of bonus time, Judge advanced to the second round with his second swing. Judge advances 23-22.

Second Round

Miguel Sano (5) vs. Gary Sanchez (8)

(9:39 PM ET) Sanchez, perhaps a little tired from his first-round effort, managed four dingers before taking his timeout at 2:04. He hit another five in regulation to bring his total to nine. With his 30 bonus seconds, Sanchez smacked one more to bring his second-round total to 10.

(9:45 PM ET) Sano still looked like he had a lot left in the tank, perhaps a benefit of having gone first. He unlocked his 30 bonus seconds early and hit six before calling timeout at 1:59. He hit five more to advance past Sanchez into the finals.

Aaron Judge (2) vs. Cody Bellinger (3)

(9:56 PM ET) Bellinger probably knew he’d have to hit close to 20 to have a shot at advancing past Judge into the finals. He managed five before taking a timeout at around 2:10, then hit another seven before the end of his regulation time to put his total at 12. He did not hit a home run 440 feet or beyond, so he didn’t get any bonus time.

(10:02 PM ET) Judge “only” hit five before calling timeout at 2:48. Ho-hum. He roared back and hit the requisite eight to advance to the finals with a minute remaining on the clock. His longest home run went 513 feet and he hit two others 507 and 504 feet. It’s a Judge-Sano finals.

Finals

Miguel Sano (5) vs. Aaron Judge (2)

(10:15 PM ET) Sano looked gassed. He hit only one home run before taking a breather at 2:34. The break helped, as Sano blasted three homers in a row when he stepped back into the box. His final home run, giving him 10, went 449 feet and unlocked his 30 seconds of bonus time. Sano was unable to hit another home run in his extra time, so his total remained at 10. Judge has to hit 11 to win the 2017 Home Run Derby.

(10:23 PM ET) Easy. Judge needed about half of his allotted regulation time to hit 11 home runs to surpass Sano to win the 2017 Home Run Derby. No 500-foot homers, though. For shame.

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The 2017 Home Run Derby at Marlins Park in Miami will begin shortly on ESPN. We’ll be updating this blog as the Derby progresses, so feel free to hang out here and comment with your thoughts on the action.

If you missed it, Craig, Ashley, and I revealed our predictions here.

Two injured MVPs is a major bummer for baseball

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Last week Christian Yelich‘s season ended with a fractured kneecap. At the time he went down he was neck-and-neck with Cody Bellinger — I think a tad behind, though people may reasonably differ — and, at least by my reckoning, a hair or three above Anthony Rendon, Ketel Marte and Pete Alonso in the race for the NL MVP Award. As I wrote last week, I think that means Bellinger is going to walk away with the hardware when the winner is announced in November. Yelich’s injury will prevent him from making a late season surge to surpass Bellinger, but I think it would’ve taken a surge for him to do it.

Over the weekend we learned that Mike Trout’s season is over as well. He’ll be having foot surgery to deal with a nerve issue causing him pain. At the time he went down he was the clear frontrunner to win his third MVP Award. Unlike Yelich, I’m pretty sure Trout will still win the trophy. Sure, Trout hasn’t played since September 7, meaning that he’ll miss more time than Yelich will, but strained articles stumping for alternative candidates notwithstanding, his lead in the MVP race was more secure.

Trout’s 2019 ends with him setting a career high in homers with 45 and slugging percentage at .645—both of which lead the American League. He likewise leads the league in on-base percentage (.438), OPS (1.083), and in both Baseball-Reference.com’s and FanGraphs’ versions of WAR at 8.3 and 8.6, respectively. With just under two weeks to go it seems likely that Jorge Soler of the Royals will pass Trout for the home run lead, but he’s not an MVP candidate himself. Alex Bregman will likely pass him in walks. Trout seems pretty certain to finish with his lead in all or most of the other categories intact. That’s an MVP resume even if he’ll only have played in 134 games. To give the award to anyone else would be an exercise in narrative over reason. Something born of a desire to reward a guy — like, say, Bregman — for playing on a winning team as opposed to his individual accomplishments. Sure, voters are allowed to do that, but they’ve mostly eschewed such tendencies in recent years. It’d be a surprise if they backslid.

Even if Yelich’s and Trout’s injuries aren’t likely to radically change the MVP race — again, I think the NL’s was Bellinger’s to lose — they’re both still lamentable separate and apart from the fact that all injuries stink. Lamentable in a way that, unfortunately, creates a downer for baseball as it gets ready for the postseason.

The Brewers won the game in which Yelich went down and have won four of five since then. In so doing they have remained close in the race for the second Wild Card and currently stand one game back. They also have an insanely favorable schedule the rest of the way, exclusively facing the weak sisters of the National League in the Padres, Pirates, Reds and Rockies. Even so, it’s no gimmie — those Reds and Rockies games are on the road, and Great American Ballpark and Coors Field makes those bad teams better — and the reward at the end of this is likely to be a one-game play-in. You want your best player in any and all situations and the Brewers don’t have theirs. And won’t, even if they make the postseason and even if they win the Wild Card game. Having one of the game’s brightest stars on crutches for the playoffs is not something anyone at the league office wants.

The Angels have no such postseason concerns and haven’t had them for most of the season. Once again they’re terrible. As they have been for almost the entirety of Trout’s career. They’ve made the postseason only once in his career — back in 2014, losing the LDS in three games — and do not appear poised to put a winner on the field any time soon. Trout is still in his prime, obviously, but like all players he’ll either slow down or break down eventually. Given the state of the club, I’m not sure I’d put a ton of money on them being good, let alone consistently good, while Trout is still the best or even one of the few best players in baseball. The upside to me seems to be an Al Kaline situation with the Tigers, in which the team finally put it together behind him only after he began to age and miss time to injuries. Having the best player in baseball outside of the playoffs looking in is not something anyone at the league office should want either.

Yet here we are.

Injuries happen. Every contender is missing at least one and in some cases several important players. But for one MVP candidate to miss the postseason this year and another one to miss the postseason every year is a major bummer for a league that has a tough go of it marketing itself even under the best of circumstances.