Who’s ready for some excitement at the MLB All-Star Home Run Derby? The most anticipated event of the summer heads to Hollywood, where some of the sport’s biggest names will take aim at the stands at Dodger Stadium on Monday, July 18 (8:00pm ET on ESPN).
With the first competitor in this summer’s eight-strong field announced on Monday, one thing is clear: everyone will be looking to keep up with one-on-one derby champion Pete Alonso.
As the remaining candidates for Thursday’s Home Run Derby Bracket Selection Show (7 p.m. ET on ESPN) are announced, we’ll be breaking down each selected player — and taking the belt off the Mets’ slugger known as The Polar Bear.
Advertised field: Pete Alonso, Ronald Acuna Jr.
To play: ESPN’s Derby Pick’em
Personnel 2022 total: 23 | The longest: 447 feet
Why he’s the home run king: Alonso has competed in two All-Star Home Run Derbies during his MLB career and finished the night as champion twice — and twice won a $1 million award for his efforts.
In 2019, Alonso defeated Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in an epic derby match by hitting a total of 57 long balls in Cleveland. When the event returned in 2021, Alonso overtook the field at Denver’s Coors Field, surpassing Trey Mancini in the last lap and hitting 74 homers overall — including 20 that went at least 475 feet.
After his win in 2021, Alonso said: “I think I’m the best power hitter in the world. Showing that and making it really fun for the fans is really a dream for me. When I was younger, my parents would actually let me stay up past my bedtime to watch it.”
Obviously, all those nights of watching paid off for the Mets slugger.
Derby Fun Fact: Alonso was the only consecutive champion in Derby history, alongside Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Céspedes (2013-14).
Home runs 2022: 8 | The longest: 464 feet
Why he was able to defeat Alonso: There is perhaps no other player in this year’s field who plays with as much flair as Acuna – and that could go a long way in front of a star-studded LA crowd, while Acuña is known for his all-around ability and Alonso more for his slugging alone, their career home run totals show that the performance difference between the two NL East stars isn’t as big as you might think:
Acuna – 113 HR, 448 games
Alonso – 129 HR, 455 games
Why he might not: After returning from an ACL injury he sustained earlier this season last July, Acuña’s power punch was the last part of his game to return. He has hit just eight in 53 games so far in 2022 after hitting 24 long balls in 82 games before his season ended last summer.
Derby Fun Fact: Acuña appeared in the 2019 home run derby, eliminating Josh Bell in the first round before falling to Pete Alonso in the semifinals. Acuna hit 19 homers in the round before Alonso advanced to the finals with 20.