Giancarlo Stanton always enjoys seeing his family while on the West Coast.
That wasn’t his primary reason for visiting San Diego this week.
“Taking the flight out here just for this, I figured it would have been a waste if I didn’t bring this bad boy home,” said Stanton as he clutched his brand new championship trophy.
Stanton, the first Marlin to ever win an All-Star Home Run Derby, accomplished his mission Monday night at Petco Park in historic fashion, blasting a record-setting 61 home runs in only his second time contest.
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Stanton’s final tally was the highest in the 31-year history of the event and broke the previous record for a single-event of 41 set by Bobby Abreu in 2005.
The impact from the show Stanton put on was still being felt on the eve of Tuesday’s All-Star Game, which Stanton was not chosen to play in after a dismal start to this season. Stanton joined Yoenis Cespedes as the only Home Run Derby champions that did not play in that season’s All-Star Game.
“I feel so excited for him and I’m proud of him because he was struggling [earlier this year] and for him to win it, it’s beautiful man,” said teammate Marcell Ozuna, who started in his first All-Star Game Tuesday. “He’s one of the best home run hitters in the big leagues.”
By the end of the first round, after he crushed 24 homers (a single-round record), and eliminated 2011 champion Robinson Cano, Stanton was drawing reverence from the likes of David Ortiz, who is retiring after this season and played in his final All-Star Game Tuesday.
Stanton proceeded to hit 17 more in the second round to edge Mark Trumbo, who hit 14 and leads the majors with 28 home runs this season.
Stanton capped the day by hitting 20 more in the final round to dethrone defending champion Todd Frazier of the White Sox, who won it last year as a member of the Reds.
“[Stanton] was hitting the moonshots,” said Frazier, who hit 13 in the matchup with Stanton and 42 overall, which surpassed his winning total of 39 in 2015. “I felt like I was a high school hitter compared to him the way he was hitting them that far.”
There was even time for Stanton to take a quick “selfie” with his Marlins teammates during a timeout.
“G said he wanted to do something different when we came out to give him some water,” A.J. Ramos said. “I don’t think I had ever seen someone take a selfie at home plate before.”
Ramos and Jose Fernandez were among those having fun with Stanton during the performance. They waved towels to “cool him off” during timeouts and once Fernandez even playfully held a “shocked-face emoji” sign in front of his face.
Stanton’s 61 home runs came on 120 swings and totaled a distance of 5.1 miles.
One of them had an exit speed of 120.4 mph according to Statcast, making it the tracking system’s highest speed on record for a home run. His longest home run was 497 feet, and he reached that distance twice, hitting five homers 490 feet or more, and averaging 447 feet per home run.
Stanton hit the eight longest home runs of the contest and 20 of the 21 longest, and his total represented 30 percent of the 203 home runs hit overall.
Stanton said the timed format of four minutes per round with unlimited swings allowed definitely helped.
“I’m more rapid fire in my work and regular batting practice so I like this format,” Stanton said.
Stanton also credited his choice of Marlins coach and replay coordinator Pat Shine to be the one to toss the baseballs to him as he has regularly in batting practice.
“No-brainer [picking Shine to throw],” Stanton said. “He was grooving them out there. I don’t think I took more than five balls. He was just as important to this as I was.”
HOME TITLE DEFENSE
The victory set Stanton up for a potential repeat in his home ballpark next season as the 2017 All-Star Game will be played at Marlins Park.
“It just depends how the year is going by then,” Stanton said. “Next year it’s at home so pretty good chance I’ll do it.”
HITTING FOR CHARITY
Stanton’s efforts helped raise $130,000 of the total $582,000 donated to the Boys & Girls Club of America, a charity he has long been involved with.
T-Mobile, the event’s sponsor, donated $2,000 for every regular home run hit during the Derby and $4,000 for any hit using a special magenta-colored baseball.
“To contribute to the Boys & Girls Club is huge,” Stanton said. “I’m involved with them, and I love going to visit and helping out in any way I can. Hitting some home runs can help too. That’s good.”
Ozuna became the first Marlin to start an All-Star Game as an outfielder Tuesday night.
Ozuna, who hit seventh in the National League lineup, is the fourth Marlins player to start an All-Star Game, joining Gary Sheffield (1993), Hanley Ramirez (2008-2010) and Stanton (2014).
Ozuna endured through a difficult 2015 season that included a demotion to the minors.
“What happened to me was an experience I won’t forget and it served as motivation to get to this point now,” Ozuna said. “This is going to be an unforgettable experience.”