Minneapolis (AFP) - Oakland A's slugger Yoenis Cespedes defended his home run derby title in dominating style on Monday, joining Ken Griffey as the only players to win back-to-back crowns.
"I just discovered recently Ken Griffey Jr was only other player to win consecutive titles and it was something that I wanted to accomplish," Cespedes said through an interpreter.
"I was able to get past the first round which allowed me to breath and re-gather myself and that allowed me to win this title one more time."
Former Seattle Mariner Griffey won the home run hitting contest in 1998 and then repeated in 1999.
The all-star game itself takes place Tuesday night at Target Field.
Cespedes, who hit a total of 30 home runs, led off the final round of the annual long ball showcase, which was delayed one hour at the start because of rain. The former Cuban national baseball team member finished two homers shy of his total in 2013.
His power display included a home run that sailed 452 feet into the outfield seats.
Cespedes stepped up to the plate in the final round after hitting 21 homers in the opening rounds.
He became the fifth consecutive American League player to win the derby. Prince Fielder was the last National League player to take the title in 2009.
A's third-base coach Mike Gallego, who also threw to Cespedes last year at New York's Citi Field, pitched the home run balls.
"I think when the lights are their brightest, the public is watching more than ever and it truly motivates me and it makes me want to do my best at all times," Cespedes said.
Frazier had his brother Charlie pitch to him. Charlie Frazier was a sixth round draft pick but never made it to the show.
This year's event included a change in the format and an expanded field of competitors.
Of the three players who have hit the longest home runs in the league this season, Miami Marlins Giancarlo Stanton was the only one to compete on Monday night. Stanton blasted a 484-foot homer on April 4. Trout hit the longest homer of the season so far, a 486-foot monster shot on June 27.
But there was still plenty of pop in the event. With the revised format, MLB wanted to cut the number of swings each batter was taking in the early rounds so they reduced the number of outs from 10 to seven, which meant less wear and tear on the two finalists.
- Sports & Recreation
- Yoenis Cespedes
- Ken Griffey Jr
- Major League Baseball
- Todd Frazier
- Minnesota Twins