The Home Run Derby is a signature All-Star event that doesn't need revamping. Nevertheless, the 2014 Home Run Derby took on a new format on July 14, as four National League and five American League sluggers faced each other in one-on-one duels before the winners clashed in the final. But although the process changed, the winner was still the same as Yoenis Cespedes cruised to a second straight title.
The other new, much less welcome element of this Home Run Derby was rain, as conditions in Minnesota delayed the start of the show for an hour. When the proceedings started, AL captain Jose Bautista proved to be the least affected, slugging a first round high 10 home runs. For his efforts, Bautista got a bye into the semifinals and didn't hit again for almost two hours.
The new Home Run Derby rules put the top three batters from each league into the second round, with the second and third place contestants in each league facing off in a swing off. Cespedes had to win a bat off against Oakland Athletics teammates Josh Donaldson to take third place in the AL, but then truly got going with 10 homers to beat Adam Jones in the second round.
Over in the NL, Giancarlo Stanton won the bye with six blasts, with NL captain Troy Tulowitzki finishing second and Cincinnati's Todd Frazier winning a tiebreaker over former Minnesota Twin Justin Morneau for third. As for Yasiel Puig, he went completely homerless in his derby debut.
Both Cespedes and Frazier advanced out of the first round by the skin of their teeth, but were battle tested enough to beat the rusty Bautista and Stanton in the semifinals. Yet only Cespedes came to life in the final, slugging nine more dingers to Frazier's one.
This was a Home Run Derby with a bracket system no one really asked for, with rain delays and with some batters being sidelined longer than they should have been. But no matter how the derby is held, Cespedes seems to know how to best take advantage. What's more, unlike last season, Cespedes will get to hang around for an extra day and play in the All-Star Game as well.