The anticipated Giancarlo Stanton-Aaron Judge matchup at the Home Run Derby will have to wait for another year. In a surprising first-round upset, Stanton was eliminated from the derby by Judge’s Yankee teammate Gary Sanchez, who outslugged him 17-16.
Stanton, who won the 2016 Home Run Derby with a record 61 total home runs, including 24 in the first round, started slow but rallied late to position himself for an epic comeback. He went into his 30-second bonus time needing two home runs to tie and three to win, but had clearly tired and managed just one additional home run.
Sanchez, who was swinging a sweet customized “Kraken” bat, set a scorching pace, peppering the left field seats and the Marlins Park home run sculpture during his impressive first round performance.
The victory proved Sanchez belonged in the event despite some initial criticism of his selection. The biggest push back came from Rays slugger Logan Morrison, who finished the first half with 24 home runs compared to Sanchez’s 13. It also set up the possibility of an all-Yankees finals, but that was spoiled when Sanchez lost his second round matchup 11-10 to Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano.
With Stanton out, the onus was on Justin Bour to carry the Marlins banner. He proved to be the breakout star of the event, launching 22 home runs in the first round. That was second home runs hit during a single round on Monday. Unfortunately for him, his opponent, Judge, hit 23.
Judge would go on to defeat Sano 13-12 in the finals to claim his first Home Run Derby crown. That makes him the man to beat now in the Home Run Derby, and will hopefully lead to Stanton chasing him next year.
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