When Yoenis Cespedes was picked to represent the American League in the 2013 Home Run Derby, some were quite surprised. Many were not expecting a small market team player who had never participated in the Home Run Derby before to be chosen.
But Cespedes was thrilled and ready for the challenge.
Cespedes, who is originally from Cuba and has only lived in the U.S. for about 2 years, became the fourth participant in the history of the Home Run Derby to be part of the home run competition but not part of the actual All-Star game.
Besides Cespedes, Rafael Palmeiro (2004), Hee-Seop Choi (2005) and Ryan Howard (2007) are the three other players to make the Derby but not the actual baseball game. Even though they all tried their best, only Palmeiro made it out of the first round. So, hopes were not high for Cespedes to succeed. But when he stepped up the plate, determination was written all over his face.
Not only did he win the first round, he crushed his opponents. With 17 home runs, Cespedes was 9 home runs ahead of the next best hitter and had tied for the third most home runs in the first round in Derby history. Many of his hits landed in third deck of the Citi Field ballpark seats, one pinged off the press box, and another hit the Chevy Truck that was 416 feet away. Needless to say, Cespedes was feeling good. Even though he only slugged 6 home runs over the wall in round two, his total from round one had already automatically landed him a spot in finals. Going into the last round, Cespedes had hit a total of 23 home runs.
In the final round, Cespedes was up against Bryce Harper who had hit a total of 16 in the first two rounds. But Cespedes was ready to win. Using only 5 outs, he was able to beat Harper 9-8 and win the 2013 Home Run Derby. His winning home run was blasted dead center and landed approximately 455 feet from home plate. With a celebratory flip of his bat, Cespedes was rushed by his AL All-Star teammates.
Robinson Cano picked Cespedes in order to give him the opportunity to participate in an All-Star activity. Cespedes proved that he could not only compete, but he could win. With a total of 32 home runs, he entertained the crowd with long homers to left and center field that accumulated to just about 2.5 miles in total distance. Cespedes has been the A’s All-Star slugger this season, and he is the first Oakland Athletic to win the Home Run Derby since Mark McGwire in 1992. Now he is an American All-Star Home Run Derby Champion and Oakland could not be prouder.