Fielder wins Home Run Derby for 2nd time
Slugger joins Griffey Jr. as only 2-time Derby winner
Prince Fielder has hit 15 home runs in 86 games for the Detroit Tigers.
That ranks him a lackluster 27th among major-league hitters at the traditional halfway point of the season. It has also been cause for disappointment in Detroit where expectations were high after the Tigers signed the 28-year-old first baseman to a nine-year, $214-million contract as a free agent during the winter.
Fielder had hit at least 30 home runs in each of the last five seasons, all with Milwaukee, including 50 to lead the National League in 2007.
Perhaps Fielder is in for a big second half, though, as he won the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Fielder defeated Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista in the final round 12-7 to join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only two-time winners of the event. (Fielder also won the 2009 derby at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.) Joining Griffey brought back fond memories for Fielder, who grew up in the same Orlando neighborhood as the future Hall of Fame outfielder.
"He was the first guy to have NBA Jams," Fielder said. "My dad would let me go over to his house all day and let me play video games."
Fielder made it look like he was playing in a video game as he advanced to the finals by hitting 16 home runs in the first two rounds, five in the first and 11 in the second. He finished with a total of 28, with a long of 476 feet and an average of 432.
"People ask if this is easy, but it's not as easy as it looks," Fielder said. "You've got a round bat and you're trying to hit a round ball square. Try to figure that one out. It's a lot of work and it's tiring, but it's also a blast. I'll do it every year if they asked."
The Kansas City fans, though, seemed more delighted by watching defending champion Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees bow out in the first round without even hitting one ball into the stands. Cano, the captain of the AL squad, got plenty of boos for not picking Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler to participate on the four-man team.
"I don't have anything about Billy Butler," Cano said. "I like him. I think he's a good player and he's having a good season. I picked the three guys I thought could hit the most home runs."
Bautista went deep 11 times in the first round and just twice in the second, but his total of 13 got him into the final. Bautista led the major leagues in home runs each of the last two seasons, hitting 54 in 2010 and 43 in 2011, and he is tops again this year with 27.
In all, Bautista hit 20 homers on Monday. His longest was 442 feet and he averaged 418.
The final round came down to Bautista and Fielder after St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran and Los Angeles Angels right fielder Mark Trumbo bowed out in the second round.
Beltran hit a total of 12 home runs, seven in the first round and five in the second. He averaged 420 feet on his long balls and saved his best for last, hitting a 459-foot blast.
Trumbo hit seven balls out of the first round and six in the second for a total of 13. His longest homer was 457 feet and he had a 432-foot average.
Also eliminated with Cano from the eight-man field in the first round were Colorado Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp and Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Gonzalez and McCutchen both had four home runs, while Kemp, who has been on the disabled list since May 31 with a hamstring injury, went deep just once.