Giancarlo Stanton took his timeout early on during last night’s Home Run Derby. He got off to a rough start, slapping a handful ground balls and liners rather than monster dingers, and he was clearly frustrated by the time he’d already eaten up.
So with just four homers in the books and 2:30 left on the clock, Stanton took a break, when returned and did exactly what we thought he would do, smashing 16 home runs. Eight of his dingers went at least 480 feet, the longest went 496 feet, and the hardest left his bat at 120 mph.
But by the end of his round he was exhausted, and it showed on his face:
It was Stanton showing us how difficult it really is to hit bomb after bomb after bomb, so fast, so far, in such a condensed period of time. He’s consistently at the top of the charts in Statcast’s home run metrics, and that’s not by accident. Stanton swings hard.
In stylistic terms, Stanton was neatly contrasted by champion dong-swatter Aaron Judge. Judge hit is fair share of balls into the heavens, but a lot of his homers looked like accidents—fly balls flicked into the opposite field that somehow got over the fence. Stanton’s homers were scorched, low and hard and threatening to grievously injure anyone who got in their way. Judge’s homers were a marvel, Stanton’s were a fright. If there’s such a thing as a home run aesthetic, I prefer Stanton’s.
It would have been cool to see these competing styles meet in the final, but that’s the thing about hitting every homer with such violence, you tire out a lot faster than the guy who can hit them with a flinch.
Looking at Stanton’s exhausted face, and imagining what it must of felt like to watch Judge replace him as baseball’s Big Homer Man in his own stadium, it was hard not to feel bad for him. He looked so frustrated and so mortal. Judge completely warped the standard conventions of the derby and probably would have smoked Stanton in the final anyway, but it was a matchup we all deserved to see.