SAN DIEGO — Remarkably, Marlins masher Giancarlo Stanton had participated in just one Home Run Derby until Monday night’s one-man exhibition in raw power. Injuries had forced him to bow out twice. And in his only appearance, in the 2014 event at Target Field, he hit just six homers.
But Stanton made up for lost time, turning one of the most cavernous ballparks in the big leagues into a cramped back yard. He blasted 61 homers total — shattering Bobby Abreu’s event record — en route to a Home Run Derby championship that quickly seemed inevitable.
In the final round of a single-elimination tournament featuring eight sluggers, Stanton beat defending champion Todd Frazier of the White Sox, 20-13. With that, Stanton made official what has long been his unofficial title as the game’s premier power hitter.
Josh Hamilton’s captivating dominance at Yankee Stadium in 2008 may remain the gold standard. But in becoming the first Marlins player to win the Derby, Stanton turned in one of the events all-time great performances, perhaps one to rival Hamilton’s.
Stanton hit 24 homers in the first round, dwarfing the seven hit by opponent Robinson Cano, the 2011 champion. One of those blasts traveled 497 feet over the batter’s eye — the longest of the night.
In the semifinal, Stanton easily dispatched the Orioles’ Mark Trumbo, 17-14. Trumbo managed to hit the large scoreboard in leftfield. In the first round, he also deposited two balls onto the roof of the Western Metal Supply Co. building that towers over leftfield.
These were perhaps the only two swaths of Petco Park real estate that escaped Stanton’s wrath. And when he got tired of pelting the batters’ eye in centerfield, or the row of seats beneath the scoreboard in left, Stanton twice left the ballpark altogether.
Through the first two rounds, Stanton had 3 1/2 miles worth of homers, according to Statcast. His mark of 41 equalled Abreu’s winning total in 2005, which had been a record.
Of those 61 homers Stanton hit in three rounds, 39 traveled more than 440 feet.