NEW YORK – The Home Run Derby champion didn't even make the All-Star team.
The A's Yoenis Cespedes won baseball's power-hitting competition with a dazzling display Monday night, becoming the first player left out of the All-Star Game to take home the crown.
Cespedes beat the Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper 9-8 in the final round at Citi Field, hitting the decisive drive with five swings to spare.
In his second major-league season, the Cuban outfielder dropped his bat and raised his arm in triumph when he sent his 32nd homer of the night some 455 feet to center field, where it caromed off the black batter's background wall. He was swarmed by the American League All-Stars near the third-base line.
"You come for a show in New York. He put on a show," said Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer, set to start for the A.L. tonight.
The final addition to the field, Cespedes was the fourth player not selected for the All-Star Game to compete in the event.
Right off the bat, he proved he belonged. With family in the stands, Cespedes hit 17 home runs in the first round – more than any other player managed in his first two trips to the plate.
"I felt that I was getting into a very good rhythm and that as long as the ball was right over the plate, I felt like I was in a good groove," Cespedes said through a translator. "That was the key."
That sent him straight into the finals, though he added six long balls in the second round for good measure. Some of his early drives were particularly impressive, too.
Cespedes hit about a half-dozen balls into the left-field upper deck, never reached by anyone in a game, and banged two shots off the restaurant windows in the corner just below.
This season, Cespedes is batting only .225 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs, but hardly anyone in the game doubts his ability.
"This trophy will motivate me so that things continue to go well for me," he said, "and I just want to thank the people who believed in me, who thought I could play at this level."