Freddie Freeman couldn’t spoil Bryce Harper’s house party, falling to the Nationals star in the opening round of Monday night’s Home Run Derby in Washington, D.C..
The seventh seed in the eight-player bracket, Freeman — who was greeted by resounding boos in the park of a National League East rival — hit 12 home runs, a number that the second-seed Harper surpassed with 26 seconds to spare.
“It was nice,” Freeman joked afterward. “I figured I was going to get a reception like that.”
❗OFFICIAL FREDDIE FREEMAN HOME RUN COUNTER ❗
⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾⚾#HRDerby | #AllStarGame | @Braves
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) July 17, 2018
Freeman, who has gone deep 16 times this year, has hit no fewer than 28 in the past two seasons. He’s one of the game’s most complete players, with only the Angels’ Mike Trout posting a higher OPS+ (183) than Freeman’s 157 since the 2016 break, but he’s not exactly known as a home-run hitter. He quipped early Monday, “hopefully wit it being hot the ball flies a little bit farther. I’m going to need that.”
“Hopefully with it being hot the ball flies a little bit farther. I’m going to need that.”
— @FreddieFreeman5 on HR Derby being at a place he’s familiar with in Nationals Park.@Braves | #AllStarGame pic.twitter.com/4zat0lcw4e
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) July 16, 2018
The Braves’ first participant since Andruw Jones in 2005 and 11th overall, Freeman got off to a slow star. He went 34 seconds before hitting his first homer, taking his 30-second break at the two-minute mark with six long balls.
With Atlanta infield instructor Tomas Perez throwing to him, the three-time All-Star reached double figures with 14 seconds to go, adding two more before time expired. Freeman’s longest shot went 437 feet as he tied the Brewers’ Jesus Aguilar with the fewest homers in the opening round.
“I’ll take it. I knew I was going to be up for a challenge,” Freeman said. ” … I was trying to hit them to right-center, but they kept going to left-center. I couldn’t figure that out. But I had a fun. That was a blast.
Harper, meanwhile, went on to beat the Dodgers’ Max Muncy by the same score, 13-12, in the semifinals and edged the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber 19-18 in the final.