There's never been a home run derby like that. Todd Frazier emerged victorious in an event that featured double digit home run totals double digit times, bracket style knock outs, multiple walk-off buzzer beating dingers, and a home town crowd that electrified the evening.
It's amazing what a few small changes can do, because this format produced by far the most entertaining derby I've ever seen from start to finished. Others have had their moments, but this single elimination timed bracket style game produced nonstop drama for over two hours. Every single match up in every single round was decided by a single home run. It was high note after high note.
Some of the drama may have been assisted by the fact that going second seems to be an advantage in this format (six of the seven match ups were won by the player batting second), but MLB can use that to their advantage if they're smart going forward by rewarding players for certain things if they want with the bonus being the second batting slot in the next round.
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Todd Fraizer generally comes to the plate with Frank Sinatra singing over the loudspeakers. Tonight, 'Come Fly with Me' would have been an appropriate choice. He cranked 14 homers in the first round, another ten in the second, and then belted 15 long-balls out of the yard to beat Joc Pederson in front of a raucous Great American Ballpark crowd.
Right from the moment he knocked out Price Fielder, who hit 13 in his first round turn, you knew this format had the potential to produce something special. Nobody's ever hit as many bombs as Prince did tonight in his first round and not advanced to the second under the old format. Clearly, the bar's been raised.
On the other side of the board, Joc Pederson dazzled with his ability to hit homers in bunches, and Albert Pujols showed off his tactical brilliance in the way he used every last second on the clock to dispose of Kris Bryant.
Perhaps the only real negative part of this format (in my mind anyway) was the way the bonus 30 second time was awarded. I like the idea of bonus time, but all these guys had to do was was hit two balls at least 425 feet, which was pretty much automatic. Instead, I think it might be more interesting if MLB either lengthened the distance need for that bonus time or brought some other component into the equation like opposite field home runs. It would be interesting to see if guys would try to go the other way on a couple of swings if they knew there was bonus time awaiting.
But that's more of a nitpick. Overall this was a smashing success for MLB and the city of Cincinnati. The night had action. The night had drama. The bad weather stayed away. The right guy won - And it looks like MLB's finally found a keeper for a home run derby format in a contest that had gotten stale. It probably won't be this exciting next year in a pitcher's park in San Diego, but I'm already looking forward the idea of a home run derby there more than I was 24 hours, so they got something right here.