In case you were living under a rock last night, or just prefer The Bachelorette and/or don’t like baseball, the Home Run Derby kicked off the All-Star festivities in DC Monday night. Bryce Harper ultimately won on a walk-off in the final round against Kyle Schwarber. The Derby has become a must-watch event since changing to the timed format in 2015 and last night’s Derby might have been the best HRD of all.
The Phillies’ own Rhys Hoskins was the first hit and even after starting a bit cold, Rhys would wind up hitting the most home runs of the first round, tied with the Dodgers’ Max Muncy with 17 dingers. Hoskins, the 8-seed upset NL HR leader and 1-seed Jesus Agular to move on to face Kyle Schwarber. Hoskins looked like he had set a practically untouchable number for Schwarber to match with 20 homers in round 2, but Schwarber would hit his walk-off 21st homer with time expiring.
It is a bummer that Rhys didn’t walk away with the crown last night? Sure, but you can’t be upset with way Rhys lost. Hoskins hit 37 homers in only two rounds, 8 more than Muncy, and 11 more than Bryce Haper had through two rounds. Further, Harper hit only 10 more homers than Rhys once the entire event was over. You certainly cannot be upset with how our boy did (3rd most in total HRs) and now we just need to pray that it didn’t mess his swing up as so many HRD competitors seem to fall victim to.
The final round between Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber, video above, was awe-inspiring. Once again, Schwarber posted a number that seemed nearly unmatchable by the hometown hero Harper with 18. Harper had only needed 13 in both of the prior rounds to move on and had struggled at times. Harper would homer nine times in the final 47 seconds of his four regulation minutes to tie Schwarber and hit the winner on the second pitch of bonus time. An incredible comeback that will be talked about for years in the same regard as Josh Hamilton’s performance ten years ago at Yankee Stadium, only Harper actually won the whole thing.
A lot of people are upset with Harper’s dad throwing the next pitches before the home runs had landed. It’s an understandable reaction. Karl Ravech and Mark Texiera had pointed out the disadvantage for the high fly ball hitters needing to wait for the ball to land longer from the beginning. It had seemed to have been going on for much of the entire Derby for multiple contestants, not just Harper. There was an ump holding the pitcher until the ball had “landed. My guess is he waited for the ball to be over the fence to signal the pitcher to throw again regardless if was close to landing or not.
Nevertheless, we can’t discount what Harper did hitting nine homers in 47 seconds. Basic math tells us that’s a homer every five seconds. Harper was hitting absolute lasers into the upper decks of Nats Park and the hometown crowd ate up every minute of it. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if Bryce Harper’s dad was throwing early or not, the event itself was a blast to watch and seemed to be even more fun if you were there. Unless you’re Buster Onley…
Yikes, that’s a rough way to end the night. Seriously though, a fun night like this is exactly what baseball needed.Follow @geordo9