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Freeman's 12 HRs not enough vs. Harper

Braves first baseman eliminated in 1st round, hits 437-foot blast
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

WASHINGTON -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman heard the boos before he even dug into the batter's box on Monday night.

"It was nice," Freeman said, grinning as he recalled Nationals fans' reaction to him being announced during the player introductions. "I figured I'd get a reception like that."

WASHINGTON -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman heard the boos before he even dug into the batter's box on Monday night.

"It was nice," Freeman said, grinning as he recalled Nationals fans' reaction to him being announced during the player introductions. "I figured I'd get a reception like that."

And while Freeman held his own in his first career T-Mobile Home Run Derby, it wasn't enough to top hometown hero Bryce Harper. Freeman fell, 13-12, to the Nationals outfielder in the first round of the 2018 Derby at Nationals Park. Harper took the lead with about 30 seconds to go and did not finish his round.

"I'll take it," Freeman said. "I knew I was going to be up for a challenge. I was just trying to hit them to right-center, [but] they kept going to left-center. I couldn't figure that out. But I had a lot of fun. That was a blast."

Harper went on to win the event by defeating the Dodgers' Max Muncy in the semifinals and the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber in the finals.

Freeman, the top National League All-Star vote-getter, joked earlier in the day that his palms were already sweaty for the looming contest. But he was all smiles on the field on Monday, exchanging a hug with Harper when he was through.

"It's always fun [to watch Harper hit]," said Freeman, whose longest homer of the night was a projected 437 feet by Statcast™. "Unfortunately, he's done that in games against us. I knew I was up for a challenge against him. I tried to put some pressure on him, but ultimately I didn't do enough."

Video: HRD Rd1: Freeman crushes 437-foot long HR in Round 1

Freeman said it's been three years since he hit a homer in batting practice, but the 28-year-old had 16 homers in 94 first-half games. Harper joked before the Derby that Freeman saved a lot of those BP homers for games against the Nationals, a team he's historically fared very well against.

Despite the NL East rivalry, Freeman and Harper have a good relationship, and Freeman planned on still giving Harper a hard time as they share the same dugout on Tuesday.

"It's still not going to end," Freeman said of the trash talking between him and Harper. "I'll come in tomorrow and say, 'You got lucky,' stuff like that."

The No. 7 seed, Freeman joined Milwaukee's Jesus Aguilar, Houston's Alex Bregman and Chicago's Javier Baez as first-round exits. Braves infield instructor Tomas Perez pitched to Freeman, who is the first Braves player to compete in the Derby since Andruw Jones in 2005.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Atlanta Braves, Freddie Freeman