We had our Buster Douglas moment, we had our Homer Simpson moment, but mostly we had a whole bunch of Aaron Judge moments. The season has been full of Aaron Judge moments!
Here are eight things you might have missed about the 2017 Home Run Derby:
1. Aaron Judge destroyed baseballs! The first rookie to win the Home Run Derby did so in impressive fashion, including a Titanic first-round win over Justin Bour followed by a crushing win over Miguel Sano in the final in which he hit the clinching home run with 1:53 remaining on the clock. Talk about a mic drop. The winning blast was merely 458 feet to the opposite field, landing in the second deck.
Could Aaron Judge hit 1000 home runs in a day?
— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBB) July 11, 2017
In the final matchup of the first round, hometown favorite Bour got the crowd in a frenzy with seven home runs in seven swings at one point. His 22 home runs represented the fourth-highest total for a round in Home Run Derby history -- until Judge followed with 23, hitting his final two in bonus time to eliminate Bour.
2. Please pass the doughnuts. Protein shakes? Chicken and vegetables? Who needs healthy eating when you can have home runs powered by doughnuts. In the middle of his round, Bour took his timeout and teammate Giancarlo Stanton rushed onto the field with a towel and a doughnut that he stuffed into Bour's face. And it worked! Pre-doughnut, Bour hit 12 home runs in 22 swings; post-doughnut, he hit 10 in 16 swings. Hey, this is a guy who once told teammate Dee Gordon on Twitter, "Don't you dare joke about doughnuts."
We would never joke about doughnuts.
3. Down goes Tyson! In an upset of epic proportions, Gary Sanchez eliminated defending champion Stanton in the first round, 17-16. Going after Sanchez, Stanton started off slow, hitting short line drives on his first four swings before getting into a groove. He was at 13 home runs with 59 seconds remaining, but tired and hit five straight popups before recovering to hit two more homers just before the buzzer. In his 30-second bonus time, he hit just one in five swings, with his sixth swing coming after the buzzer; it fell short anyway.
Stanton actually averaged 451 feet per home run in his round, more than the 445 he averaged when hitting 61 in three rounds last season, so he had a good effort. But Sanchez was stinging the ball, with seven of his 17 home runs traveling 450-plus feet. Somewhere, Logan Morrison cried.
And in the end, the Yankees finally got their revenge for that 2003 World Series loss with the two wins over Marlins:
Aaron Judge's 1st Round: Hit the first 500-ft HR of the night and eliminated Justin Bour.
Well put. pic.twitter.com/5gVznBlKrp
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 11, 2017
4. Father-son moments are sweet. Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger had his father Clay, a former major leaguer, pitching to him.
Cody Bellinger and his dad ... all the feels. pic.twitter.com/TovFrvqIO6
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 11, 2017
Bellinger beat Charlie Blackmon in the first round 15-14 with a clutch performance that included the winner in his bonus time. "That was sweet," Clay said. "It was just the way we talked about. Do you expect to win this thing with the monsters they've got out here? No. But to have a good showing like we did -- to get by the first round with a walk-off -- that just made it all worthwhile."
5. Controversy! Bellinger's victory over Blackmon was a little dubious according to some, however. In order to qualify for the 30-second bonus, a player has to hit two home runs of 440 feet. With Blackmon sitting on 14 home runs, Bellinger was at 12 with 5 seconds left and just one 440-foot home run. He then hit one measured at 446 feet, although in the same vicinity where a few Blackmon shots had landed in the 420 range. Hmm. Bellinger then hit his final two in overtime to win.
Still, it was a good showing by the bearded one and he thanked his towel girl:
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) July 11, 2017
6. Was that Joel Embiid in the crowd? Yes, it was. It was hard to miss the 7-foot center for the Sixers out in left field, and he supposedly ended up with one of Sano's home run balls. He even tweeted a picture:
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) July 11, 2017
Hmm, but that looks like a souvenir ball, not the real deal. Unless that's one of the "special" balls long rumored to be used in the Home Run Derby. (I kid, I kid. The balls are already so juiced this year that a special Home Run Derby ball wasn't needed.)
7. We did not set a record. In a season that has seen home runs hit at a record pace, we did not set a Home Run Derby record. There were 195 home runs hit, just short of the 205 hit last season. But remember: Judge wrapped up the title with almost 2 minutes left on the clock.
That's the one flaw to the format. We wanted Judge to keep going. Could he have hit another dozen in two minutes plus the 30-second bonus time? We'll never know because Sano's so-so round of 10 made the final less dramatic than it otherwise could have been. I guess there's not much you can do about that, but the semifinals and finals were a little anti-climactic in the wake of the Sanchez-Stanton and Judge-Bour showdowns.
8. GOAT. Yankees teammates loved Judge's victory:
aaron judge! the goat 🐐
— Clint Frazier (@clintfrazier) July 11, 2017
The amazing thing about Judge is his opposite-field power, even in a contest like this one where everyone else pulls the ball or hits a few out to center. Go here to see his opposite-field home runs. Sanchez was the only other player to hit one to the opposite field, and even that one could be classified as center.
How does Judge's performance stack up with what Stanton did last year? He didn't hit as many, but he hit more as a percentage of total swings:
Home run percentage
Stanton 2016: 51 percent
Judge 2017: 59 percent
Stanton 2016: 446 feet
Judge 2017: 435 feet
500-foot home runs
Stanton 2016: 0
Judge: 2017: 4
I think it's clear: We'll need this one settled in 2018.