The new Home Run Derby format made its debut on Monday night in Cincinnati and, as is usually the case with anything foreign and new, it was initially welcomed with criticism and skepticism. But that negativity seemed to disappear quite quickly, especially after Todd Frazier’s dramatic first round performance.
After his American League opponent, Prince Fielder, put up a solid round of 13, Frazier — the hometown representative — got off to a slow start. The Reds third baseman used his 40-second timeout after putting just five dingers on the board halfway through the opening round. On the other side of the timeout, Frazier — with the very loud support of the Cincinnati faithful — went on a tear and managed to tie Fielder’s total with just seconds to spare. Then, on the first pitch of Frazier’s bonus round, he smashed the elimination dinger and moved on to the semifinals.
It was the first real proof baseball fans were given of how exciting the new format can make the derby, especially with the potential of buzzer-beating home runs at the end of a round. It led to many positive reviews.