Consider the torch passed. Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was not able to repeat in front of his home crowd, but the rest of the field more than picked up the slack. When the dust cleared, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge shined brighter than the rest, becoming the 2017 Home Run Derby champ.
The path to the top was not without some drama. Judge barely made it out of the first round, belting an incredible 23 home runs to narrowly beat Marlins first baseman Justin Bour. The fans initially booed Judge for going against the home-town guy, but eventually came around once he started clobbering baseballs.
On his way to passing Bour, Judge hit a ball so hard it actually hit the roof of Marlins Park. Though the ball was still traveling up when it hit the roof, the shot was not ruled a home run. No matter, as Judge put the next pitch over the wall to beat Bour in bonus time.
Fatigue set in for Judge’s opponent in the second round. Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger mashed 12 dingers but looked exhausted in the process. It was clear the 21-year-old expended all his energy trying to put on a show for the fans. It was one heck of an effort, but it proved to be no match for Judge. Judge bashed 13 home runs before getting into extra time.
By the finals, even Miguel Sano had reached his limit. After getting out to a slow start, he used some strategy to go on a roll. With just two home runs, Sano called a crucial timeout and regrouped. At that point, he went on a run, smashing 10 total home runs. By the end, he was absolutely exhausted.
That wasn’t the case with Judge. He continued mashing, easily defeating Sano by hitting 11 home runs with time to spare.
That’s what separated Judge from the rest of the pack. When everyone else tired, he seemed fresh. That’s the advantage of being 6-foot-7, 280 pounds.
Though Stanton could not pull out the win, he still put on an impressive show. The No. 1 seed smashed 16 home runs in the first. With time running out, Stanton fell just short of matching New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who kicked things off with 17 bombs in the first round.
While Stanton’s performance was impressive, his teammate gave the fans even more opportunities to get loud. Bour was the talk of the event in the first round, smashing an incredible 22 home runs. He went on an massive run in the middle of his round, smashing seven dingers in a row.
Bour’s time at the top proved to be short, as Judge went on his own big run to take him down. He carried that momentum throughout the rest of the contest.
In the end, Judge’s win shouldn’t have come as a surprise. He leads all of baseball with 30 home runs at the break. If anything, his performance reinforced what we already know: 2017 is Aaron Judge’s year, and we’re just living in it.
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