MIAMI – The highly anticipated matchup of the game’s most fearsome power hitters never materialized, but Aaron Judge still ruled supreme at the All-Star Home Run Derby.
The major league home run leader at the All-Star break with 30 never got to face off against defending champion Giancarlo Stanton, who was eliminated in the opening round.
However, the New York Yankees rookie – who was booed in the pregame introductions by the pro-Marlins crowd – had the fans cheering for him by the end as he defeated Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins for the title.
Judge was severely tested in the opening round, but a late surge propelled him past hometown favorite Justin Bour in the most dramatic slugfest of the competition.
Bour set the bar extremely high, slugging 22 homers in the opening round, including six on consecutive swings. But Judge rallied with a string of late homers, including a 501-foot blast. He hit the eventual winner in the final seconds of bonus time to advance to Round 2.
The semifinal round pitted Judge against another rookie slugger, No. 3 seed Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bellinger, who earlier this season became the first player in baseball history to hit 27 home runs in his first 57 career games, was no match. The Yankees outfielder clinched his place in the final with an emphatic shot off the windowed back wall at Marlins Park, 513 feet away from home plate.
With a contingent of robed and white-wigged fans among the 37,027 cheering for him from the left field seats, Judge laid down the law after Sano could manage only 10 homers in the championship round.
Judge clinched it with No. 11, a blast to straightaway center field with just under two minutes still remaining in his round.
The final matchup was a bit of a letdown with Stanton out of the competition. The Marlins outfielder lost to another rookie, Gary Sanchez of the Yankees, falling one homer short in bonus time – despite hitting 10 of his home runs over 440 feet and recording the five highest exit velocities of the round, all over 120 mph.
In 2016, Stanton ripped 20 homers in the final round – and 61 in all – to prevail at San Diego’s Petco Park.
Judge finished this year’s competition with 47 total homers.
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