This year’s Gillette Home Run Derby came to Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark with a revised format. Under fears that the reformed competition would be a rain out, some worried the All-Star Game would be without one of its signature events. Thankfully, the weather held out enough to see veteran Reds third baseman Todd Frazier hoist the title in front the hometown faithful. Frazier fought back to beat Prince Fielder and Josh Donaldson in the prior rounds before defeating Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson with a buzzer beater home run to claim the title.
You heard that right. A buzzer beater home run.
The new timed elimination format appears to be a hit with fans. With hopes of reducing game time while accelerating play, the format had some thinking that we’d see a lack of home runs. Those concerns were quelled quickly and often when a total of 159 homers sailed over the fences during the competition–a significantly higher figure than 2014’s 78 home runs. Many league experts credit the new system for instilling a higher sense of competition while others credited a field of hitters that included some of the most impressive batters the league has seen in recent years.
While Frazier’s hometown victory seems like an impossible moment to top, there was one that transcended the game altogether. Angels’ slugger Albert Pujols combined with Joc Pederson for an incredible battle of the bats. However, the true touching moment came between Pujols and Pederson’s older brother, Champ–who has special needs, met on the field. Their moment together demonstrated the true power of the game and the players that make it possible.
To cap All-Star festivities off, the AL took home the big game and now hold home field advantage during the World Series. Here’s to an excellent second half of the season!