Bryce Harper lost in the final round of today’s Home Run Derby to Oakland Athletic Yoenis Cespedes. Harper was the second youngest participant ever, trailing only Ken Griffey Jr. from 1990, and would have been the youngest-ever winner.
With his father Ron pitching to him, Harper hit eight home runs in the first round to advance, the same number as MLB home run leader Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles did. Colorado Rockie Michael Cuddyeralso made the second round, hitting seven home runs, but Cespedes blew the competition out of the water. He hit 17 home runs in the first round, all but assuring himself a spot in the final.
In the second round, Cuddyer hit eight home runs to lead Harper by seven total. Davis hit just four before a blister on his hand opened up and forced him out of the contest. Harper hit eight more home runs to advance, eking out Cuddyer by one. Cespedes hit just six, but still had a healthy lead with 23 going into the final.
In the final, the scores were wiped clean. Harper went first and hit (you guessed it) eight home runs. He looked exhausted by the time he was done, worn down by the heat, humidity, and effort. Cespedes, however, showed no signs of slowing down, and quickly beat out Harper. He hit his ninth home run with five outs to go, giving him the win without even having to complete the round. His 32 total home runs were the third most in Derby history even though he still had five outs to go.
Despite the loss, neither Harper was disappointed afterwards. Bryce said on Twitter that he was “blessed” to have the “incredible opportunity,” while Ron said he “had a blast. I wouldn’t trade it for nothing in the world,” and considered the experience of throwing to his son a “dream come true”.
Fresh off establishing himself as the second-best home run hitter at the game, Harper will hit ninth in today’s All-Star Game.