With an absolutely sensational final-round performance, Prince Fielder emerged victorious in the 2012 Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium. Fielder advanced to the finals by hitting 16 total home runs in the first two rounds, and then erupted for 12 in the championship round to defeat Jose Bautista, who entered the finals after defeating Mark Trumbo in a second-round swing-off.
Fielder now becomes the second two-time winner in derby history. Ken Griffey Jr. was the first, winning back-to-back competitions in 1998 and 1999. Fielder, though, becomes the first to win a derby representing each league. His first win came in 2009 as a member the Milwaukee Brewers.
It's also worth noting that of the 28 home runs Fielder hit on Monday night, only one fell short off 400 feet. And that number, 28, also topped the 21 total home runs hit by the entire National League squad.
Indeed Prince was the man in the home of the Royals, but he wasn't the only storyline. Mark Trumbo had a breakout performance on the national stage. Royals fans voiced their displeasure with Robinson Cano. Oh, and a certain American League pitcher managed to work his way into the pre-Derby photo op. You can read those items and all of the other goings on in the Derby below.
10:21 PM: By a score of 2-1, Jose Bautista defeats Mark Trumbo in the swing-off and advances to the finals.
10:17 PM: We have a swing-off between Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo to determine who will meet Prince Fielder in the finals. Both men finished the first two rounds with 13 total homers. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pulling for Trumbo here because he's putting on a show. In Round Two, Trumbo hit the longest "actual" distance home run of the night at 490. He also put a couple more dents in the Royals Hall of Fame.
9:58 PM: Prince Fielder got warmed up in the second round, hitting four bombs over 458 feet — the longest coming in at 475. He added 11 to his total which now sits at 16. Carlos Beltran hit 5 in Round Two, bringing his total to 12. Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista are up next.
9;38 PM: Well, we've just witnessed the exact opposite of a Josh Hamilton moment at Yankee Stadium. Robinson Cano, with boos raining down from every corner of Kauffman Stadium when he stepped to the plate, was completely shut out in Round One. After he started swinging, the crowd was willing every ball he hit to fall short of the fence. And when they did, they erupted into cheers. That was really quite something.
Round two is set to begin now with Carlos Beltran, Jose Bautista, Prince Fielder and Mark Trumbo still alive.
9:25 PM: Matt Kemp was nearly shutout in the first round, hitting his only home run on a gold ball. I'm sure the Dodgers aren't too disappointed with this result.
9:18 PM: Prince Fielder's first round was highlighted by 448-foot and 454-foot direct splashdowns in right center field. He'll remain in the hunt after hitting 5. Carlos Gonzalez and Andrew McCutchen are the first eliminations from the derby after hitting only 4 apiece.
8:53 PM: Mark Trumbo just put on a show, hitting bombs off (and on the roof of) the Royals Hall of Fame building in left field, hitting the MLB Fan Cave slide in deep left center, and visiting the fountains just left of straight away center field. He finished the round with 7 overall. Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez is in danger of missing the cut after hitting only 4.
8:34 PM: Former Royal Carlos Beltran led off the derby with a strong showing, connecting for 7 home runs. Toronto's Jose Bautista followed with 11, including 6 absolutely mammoth gold ball blasts. We're off to a very promising start.
8:22 PM: It appears Justin Verlander photobombed the pre-derby photo op.
8:11 PM: The pomp, circumstance, questionable music selections, and Chris Berman's long-winded introductions are out of the way. The 2012 Home Run Derby is just moments away. Stay tuned!
6:55 PM: An airplane banner has been flying around Kauffman Stadium with a message for Robinson Cano pertaining to not selecting Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals for the derby.
David Brown has the story and a photo for you.
5:50 PM: Eight of the strongest, most prolific home run hitters in baseball have been selected and are presently in preparation for perhaps the most anticipated event of All-Star week — the Home Run Derby. The festivities are just a few short hours from getting underway at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, and I'll be here with you all night adding insight and keeping you informed of the latest happenings.
But before we get into the event itself, here's a little preview with a refresher of the derby rules and format, as well as a rundown of the participants.
The Home Run Derby will feature three rounds with each batter getting ten outs per round. Any swing that doesn't result in a home run is considered an out.
After all eight participants bat in round one, the four with the highest total will advance to round two. In the case of a tie, the men involved will have a swing-off at the end of the round to determine who advances.
After round two, the two participants with the highest total of home runs in round one and round two will advance the finals where the totals will be reset. Also worth mentioning, swing-off home runs will not count in their total round one and round two totals.
Also, there will be a separate competition going on between the two leagues. Each league has four participants involved selected by their team captain. The league with the highest total of home runs in the derby will win $150,000 for a charity selected by their captain. The losing captain's charity will receive $25,000.
Reprensenting the American League we have their captain and the defending Home Run Derby champion Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees. The three players he has selected to join him will be Prince Fielder of the Detroit Tigers, Mark Trumbo of the Los Angeles Angels and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.
From the National League, we have captain Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will compete tonight despite being on the disabled list with a hamstring ailment. He has also selected Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals, Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies and Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Coming off his derby win in 2011, Robinson Cano would have to considered a favorite to repeat. Then again, Prince Fielder is also a former champion (in 2009), so he also enters as a popular selection to become a two-time winner.
The Dark Horses
Keep an eye on Mark Trumbo, who could be poised for a breakout performance tonight. I'm not saying he'll have the staying power to win it, but he'll give the tape measure a good workout if he can get locked in. I also believe Carlos Gonzalez will hold his own in the competition. He has such free and easy power that I could see him remaining fresh throughout the strenuous competition, which is more important than pure strength.
I'm going with Robinson Cano to repeat tonight with a dramatic Final Round victory over Carlos Gonzalez.
How about you? Who's your Home Run Derby favorite?
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