Major league Baseball’s All-Star Break festivities got underway in Denver, Colorado on Monday night, with some of the league’s biggest bats facing off in the Home Run Derby. After last year’s ASG and derby were cancelled due to the pandemic, Mets slugger Pete Alonso looked to defend his 2019 title against a field of new challengers.
With the event taking place high in the Rocky Mountains, baseballs were sure to fly out of the park at record paces, distances, and speeds.
In the first round, Alonso was matched up with Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals and the two displayed just how far the ball could fly. Alonso started off on fire, absolutely destroying every ball, setting a record for homers in the first round with an incredible 35. Perez put up a valiant effort and impressed with 27, but it wasn’t enough to get him past the defending champion.
In the following first-round matchup, Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani took on Nationals youngster Juan Soto, with the winner playing Alonso for a spot in the finals.
Ohtani ran away with the All-Star Break headlines, taking part in the derby only to start on the mound and lead off for the AL in Tuesday’s game.
Soto was up to the challenge, as both hit 22 balls out of the park and another six out in the one-minute bonus round. The winner was decided in the first ever “swing-off,” with each getting three swings to add to their total.
Soto came up clutch, hitting all three of his chances over the wall. Ohtani missed on his first swing, ending the round.
In the semifinals, the two heavy-hitting NL East stars faced off, but Alonso was already in his groove while Soto was tired from his first round. He only managed 15 homers, not nearly enough to put him past Alonso, who stepped up to the plate dancing to his music, ready to swing for the fences. He truly made Coors Field his own as he pumped up the crowd and got them cheering for him as got ready for his hacks.
It didn’t take long for Alonso to eclipse Soto, hitting 16 balls into the crowd to punch a ticket to the final round. His opponent would be Baltimore’s Trey Mancini, who continued one of baseball’s most remarkable comeback stories.
Mancini overcame stage-3 colon cancer and at many times thought he’d never step on the field again. Now after beating cancer and making a comeback, he took part in the derby in front of a packed stadium cheering him on.
Mancini didn’t seem to expect to keep pace with Alonso, but he shocked everyone with an incredible 22-home-run round to end his night. Alonso stepped up to take his final hacks, but by the end of his bonus time he had hit 23 to clinch a second straight title.
Alonso and Mancini hugged at the plate, congratulating each other for their great contest. Alonso held his trophy high, the third player to repeat as champion. We’ll have to see if he’ll return next year, as he eyes a “Three-Pete” to tie Ken Griffey Jr.’s record of three Derby wins.