This is the first year in RR's history that the Reds have had a player in the home run derby. Honestly, I'm not even sure how I should go about this.
What happened? Despite lackluster home run totals, Todd Frazier somehow finished 2nd in the home run derby, to Yoenis Cespedes. Frazier led off the derby after an hour rain delay, while rain was still pouring down on him. He only hit two home runs in the first round, a total that nobody (even Todd) expected to hold up. After he was done, he looked more like someone who lost on Jeopardy than someone in contention for the next round.
"At least we tried."
Luckily for Todd, though, he managed to get himself into something called a "swing-off" against local favorite Justin Morneau, and prevailed to reach the next round, where he went up against Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo is one of the premier hitters in baseball right now, but Todd had his best round there and came out on top. Again.
Todd then went up against home run machine
Mike Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton hit moon shots in the first round, and the crowd was expecting him to hit a ball that left the stadium in the semifinal. Todd's demise seemed inevitable after hitting only one home run, but the wait between rounds had taken Stanton out of his rhythm so much that he wasn't able to hit even one. Frazier advances again.
Todd got destroyed by Yoenis Cespedes in the final, a man who was seemingly built for the home run derby. I remember watching videos of those old head-to-head ones as a kid, and I can't help but wonder how Cespedes would do against a guy like Mantle, Mays, and Killebrew.
It was a new format for the event, and while it was a success for Todd Frazier's chances, it's hard to argue that it was an improvement for the fan. Even after shortening the event to 7 outs per round instead of 10, it still went about 3 hours, and that was after the hour rain delay before it started. I'm not sure that it should be as long as a normal baseball game.
The biggest difference between this year and years past for me is the lack of drama that this new format provided. It was such a long and tedious event, with the same inane commentary from a guy derby watchers were tired of 10 years ago in Chris Berman and ESPN's "know-nothing but probably nice guy" John Kruk. By the finals rolled around, you could barely figure out what round it was, who was next, or how many each guy needed to advance. It felt like watching batting practice. For three hours.
I think as Reds fans we'll look back on this derby in fondness, but it's hard to believe that MLB will deem their latest experiment "successful". The derby comes to Great American Ball Park next year, which means we could be there twice as long. Maybe they'll tweak the format again, but who knows.
Good for Todd.