Cleveland’s Progressive Field welcomed 36,119 fans to witness nearly three hours of nonstop slugging in what might be the greatest power display in the event’s history. The field of eight power hitters drove a total of 312 home runs out of the park during Monday evening’s showing; making for a Home Run Derby record.
However, it was New York Mets rookie, and former Florida Gator, Pete Alonso who took home the hardware after blasting a total of 57 pitches out of the park. Alonso, who has tallied 30 home runs during his rookie season with the Mets, is just the second rookie to ever win the title outright; following behind the Yankee’s Aaron Judge who won in 2017. Alonso also ended a drought for the Mets, who haven’t seen a player win the competition since Darryl Strawberry shared the title with Wally Joyner in 1986. Alonso is also the first former Gator to ever win the slugfest.
The eight sluggers were paired up to make four first-round matchups; Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson would go on to beat Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, Blue Jays rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would defeat Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman, Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. would eliminate Pirates slugger Josh Bell and Pete Alonso would move on after beating Indians first baseman Carlos Santana.
Joc Pederson (21 homers) def. Alex Bregman (16)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (29) def. Matt Chapman (13)
Ronald Acuna Jr. (25) def. Josh Bell (18)
Pete Alonso (14) def. Carlos Santana (13)
With the field cut in half, one would naturally think to expect half as many home runs in the second round. However, thanks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Joc Pederson, there was no shortage as the two battled through three tie-breakers. Collectively, the two accounted for 79 home runs in the second round alone. The dogfight ended with Guerrero Jr. outlasting Pederson, 40 shots to 39.
On the other side of the bracket, Pete Alonso and Ronald Acuna Jr. got into a shoot out of their own which ended with Alonso walking off a pitch at the buzzer to advance to the final.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (40) def. Joc Pederson (39) on three tiebreakers
Pete Alonso (20) def. Ronald Acuna Jr. (19)
To kick off the final display, Blue Jays’ powerhouse Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had an opportunity to set the bar after being gifted with the first at-bat. Guerrero Jr., who had already blasted 69 home runs out of the park, added 22 more to his total before running out of gas. While Guerrero Jr.’s 91 total home runs were enough to break the Home Run Derby record, his final 22 wouldn’t be enough to win him the crown.
Whereas Guerrero Jr. was forced to expend a lot of energy, Alonso, who hadn’t had to hit as much heading into the finals, took advice from his teammates in terms of conserving his energy.
With just seconds left in his final outing, Pete Alonso sent another home run out of the park. This was his 57th of the evening. More importantly, his 23rd of the final round.
Cue the bat flip.
Alonso took to the mound and embraced his pitcher for the evening — his cousin Derek Morgan. Together, Alonso and Morgan won the Mets’ first baseman one million dollars; which is nearly twice Alonso’s yearly salary.
Following the celebrations, Alonso vowed to donate 10% of his earnings to charity; 5% going to each the Wounded Warrior Project and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Pete Alonso (23) def. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (22)
Alonso’s All-Star festivities continue as he takes the field for the 90th MLB All-Star Game Tuesday night.