It’s been pretty impressive to watch the evolution of the Home Run Derby over the past several years. I always watched it while growing up because I’m an absolute baseball sicko, but I remember how much those rounds could drag on as competitors kept taking pitch after pitch after pitch. Sure, I got to see Yankees like Jason Giambi (2002) and Robinson Canó (2011) take home the Derby crown, but often, it felt like a slog getting to that final round.
In 2015 though, Major League Baseball actually had a smart innovation for once! The league knew that the event was lagging, so they added a clock for each round. Just like that, a little bit of urgency was added, things got more frantic, and the entertainment value zoomed upward. Aaron Judge winning in 2017 is still quality TV for that reason alone, and we’ve seen some terrific highlights over the past few years from the likes of Bryce Harper, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and of course, a certain two-time defending champion by the name of Pete Alonso.
In 2019, Alonso burst onto the scene at Progressive Field in Cleveland and became the second rookie to win the Derby (after Judge). The man just looks like he was born to win these competitions, as he effortlessly clobbers Derby monster shots. COVID cancelled the 2020 event, but the Mets’ first baseman was back for Coors Field fun in 2021. He joined Ken Griffey Jr. and Yoenis Céspedes as the only players to repeat as Derby champions, and if he can work his magic again, he’ll become the first player to three-peat while also tying Griffey with a trio of career Derby victories.
Alonso’s competitors have no intention on making it easy for him. The National League’s actual leader in homers is No. 1 seed Kyle Schwarber, and he just barely lost to Harper the last time that he was in a Derby (2018). Juan Soto knocked out the top-seeded Shohei Ohtani in the most compelling round of last year’s Derby, and he’ll be on the other side of the bracket, too. Even Alonso’s first-round matchup is against a legitimate superstar in Ronald Acuña Jr., and he was seven seconds away from eliminating Alonso in the 2019 Derby. Who knows — maybe Albert Pujols of the 685 career dingers still has some magic in his bat for his All-Star farewell.
Needless to say, there’s a bevy of talent for Alonso to fend off. Follow along with us and let us know your Derby favorites! The competitors are listed below, as is the corresponding bracket.
- Kyle Schwarber, Phillies
- Pete Alonso, Mets
- Corey Seager, Rangers
- Juan Soto, Nationals
- José Ramírez, Guardians
- Julio Rodríguez, Mariners
- Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
- Albert Pujols, Cardinals
How to watch
Location: Dodger Stadium — Los Angeles, CA
First pitch: 8:00 pm ET
TV: ESPN (standard), ESPN2 (Statcast broadcast)
Opening odds for the Home Run Derby can be found here via DraftKings Sportsbook.