Bryce Harper is the 2018 Home Run Derby champion after an epic rally to top Kyle Schwarber in the Finals in front of a packed Nationals Park. The night was magical and may prove to be Harper’s swansong.
Following his win, Harper announced his retirement from home run derbies, saying he no longer has to do it with the trophy in tow.
“I don’t have to do it ever again. My oblique is going to be feeling it tomorrow,” Harper said, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
Harper has been reluctant to participate in the annual event after being runner-up in 2013. However, as he passed on the opportunity year-after-year, it was presumed that he was waiting for 2018 was going to be in his professional hometown, Washington, D.C.
Harper stated that as long as he made the All-Star Game roster he would participate this year in front of his team’s fans. He made it so he obliged and put on a show that will be everlasting for Nats fans.It was an fitting end, as he rallied in the Finals to hit nine home runs on his final 10 swings to tie Schwarber and eventually seal the win with a walk-off homer in bonus time.
“If it wasn’t in front of my home crowd I wouldn’t have done it,” Harper said. “If it is your home crowd, 100 percent do it.”
With his future with the Nationals in doubt, as he is set to become a free agent at season’s end, it was imperative Harper to win this year’s event. Now, that he has done so he can retire from the competition at peace knowing he won it and in front of a fan base that has cheered him for the past seven years.