Fielder first eliminated in Home Run Derby
This might be the only time Prince Fielder enters any baseball competition as a leadoff hitter. Once he finished his swings in Monday night’s Home Run Derby, totaling five home runs, it was a merciless wait to see if he advanced.
It was not particularly long. Once first-time Derby contestants Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Cuddyer, Pedro Alvarez and Chris Davis followed him with better opening rounds, Fielder went from looking to match Ken Griffey Jr. with three Derby crowns to looking at an early exit at Citi Field.
From his first two swings, Fielder seemingly was on his way to an encore of his winning performance from last year in Kansas City. His first swing took a ball out 379 feet to right field, followed by a 483-foot launch into the upper deck.
From there, however, he went into a power outage, flying out twice to right before getting a 363-foot drive over the fence.
Four consecutive outs followed, Fielder struggling to get the ball into the hot, humid New York air with enough power to clear the fences at Citi Field. He pulled everything, but powered nothing, lining one pitch foul into the seats down the right-field line.
A 370-foot drive ended his drought, but a line drive into the gap in right-center field started another one. Once his liner to the right-field corner fell just short of the fence, he was down to his final out.
He made a rally, launching ball off the canopy near the concourse in right-center field, but his final drive died in the depths of center field.
Instead of a repeat of last year’s crown, Fielder’s attempt to defend his crown ended up more like his first Derby in 2007, when he hit just three homers out of AT&T Park in San Francisco to finish tied for sixth. Meanwhile Cespedes, who was added to the Derby only after Miguel Cabrera couldn’t take part, stole the show Monday night.
Fielder also followed his regular-season history at Citi Field from his days as a Milwaukee Brewer. He hit one home run in 10 career games here, batting .250 (9-for-36). The Tigers, fittingly, will return for a three-game series against the Mets in August.