By every stretch of the imagination, Todd Frazier stretched out his fairy tale ride through the Home Run Derby for as long as he could. Ultimately, he would end the night as king of the National League, but second overall to back-to-back champion, Yoenis Cespedes.
As the case with these types of contests, someone has to go first. The “Toddfather” drew the unlucky card of being the first participant of the evening.
With the new format, whereas batters were once allowed 10 outs before they were finished for each round, it has been dialed back to seven. Clearly, it took a few hacks for Frazier and his brother Charlie to work out the kinks. He would go on to hit two home runs, a respectable enough feat considering he would not get shutout.
Three of the five National League members would advance to the next round and with perennial powerhouses Yasiel Puig, Troy Tulowitzki, and consensus favorite Giancarlo Stanton as his competition, additional hacks seemed to be unlikely for Frazier.
Thanks to a total meltdown from arguably the National League’s most exciting enigma in Puig, who would go homerless, Frazier would draw with Justin Morneau of the Colorado Rockies. The two would square off in a three-swing faceoff.
After making two outs on his first two cuts, Frazier clobbered one deep into the Minnesota stands, putting the pressure on Morneau in front of what was once his home club. Warm ovation and all, Morneau would have to take solace in the fan support, as he could not conquer the vast dimensions of right field at Target Field.
Frazier had taken down one Rockies member in Morneau, but the game’s most complete shortstop in Troy Tulowitzki awaited him. Had Frazier not caught fire midway through his swings, it would have been nearly impossible to top Tulo, whose swing was nearly tailor made for this competition. Clobbering six in his second batch, he would cruise to victory after Tulo would manage only two.
While Frazier had advanced to the next round, he drew a head-to-head matchup with Giancarlo Stanton. For those that may not know much about Stanton, he is built like an NFL tight end, has the athleticism of an elite NBA athlete (think Blake Griffin 2.0) and has the hand-eye coordination that allows him to routinely hit balls over 500 feet in batting practice.
Going first once again, Frazier seemed to have reached his end after hitting only one home run. Surely, Stanton and his muscles that protruded out from under his jersey would be able to sink multiple home runs into the stands.
Maybe the pressure mounted for Giancarlo by knowing that he had to hit at least one to force a tie, but Stanton would drop the stunner of the evening by going 0-fer. Frazier may have been stunned more than anyone else in the ballpark, and that was before Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig (who had joined Team Frazier on the sidelines, which was composed of Aroldis Chapman, Alfredo Simon and Johnny Cueto) came over and bear hugged him as a form of congratulations.
While one Cuban phenom was hugging Frazier, another demolished his hopes of winning the competition in the Finals. Becoming the first back-to-back winner of the tournament since the legendary Ken Griffey Jr., Yoenis Cespedes put on a show in the final round, mashing nine long home runs deep into the night.
Countering with just a single shot, Frazier knew his end of the rope had come. It was a valiant effort, mixed with a string of luck, but still an impressive night for the Reds third baseman.
Even though he would hit just 10 home runs on the evening, Frazier will carry the crown of National League Home Run Champion until next summer. Of course, he may very well be around to defend his crown inside Great American Ball Park.