Last night’s Home Run Derby delivered an exciting matchup between two of baseball’s youngest and brightest stars.
Juan Soto Wins the Home Run Derby
Juan Soto told Jeff Passan about 30 minutes before the Home Run Derby that he would probably win the event. He backed up those words as he out-dueled rookie Julio Rodríguez in the finals last night on his way to his first Home Run Derby crown and reminded everyone why he just turned down a reported $440 million extension from the Washington Nationals.
Soto, 23, mashed 19 home runs in the final round to walk off Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez during the bonus time portion of his final at-bat. Soto became the second Nationals player to win the event, joining former Nats teammate Bryce Harper who won in 2018 in front of the home crowd in D.C., ironically by a score of 19-18 in the final round, just as Soto did last night.
Soto also became the sixth Dominican-born player to win the Derby. Previous winners from the Dominican Republic include Robinson Canó (2011), David Ortiz (2010), Vladimir Guerrero Sr. (2007), Miguel Tejada (2004), and Sammy Sosa (2000). Three of the four players in last night’s semifinals (Soto, Rodríguez, and Pujols) were Dominican-born.
Soto said after the Derby that winning it “is something special, but it means more because I did it for the Dominican Republic.” Soto continued:
“The people there are always supporting me, and they’ve been there every step. I know all their prayers are heard, and today I heard them more than ever.”
Fellow Dominican slugger Julio Rodríguez might have fallen just short of Soto in the finals, but he was the start of the show all night, hitting a whopping 32 home runs in the opening round, setting the tone for the rest of the Derby as the contests first hitter of the night. The 21-year-old rookie mashed 81 home runs in total, actually topping Soto’s event total by nearly 30.
New All-Star Game Tie-Breaker
Did you enjoy the Home Run Derby last night? If so, you’re probably going to want to root for a tie game tonight.
We learned just before last night’s Home Run Derby that MLB added a new wrinkle to the All-Star Game that has me pretty excited. If the game is tied after nine innings, the game will be settled via a Home Run Derby!
As Anthony Castrovince reported, each manager will select three batters to participate, and each hitter will get three swings. The team with the highest total after three rounds wins. Here are some more details:
- Play will be paused briefly for the grounds crew to reconfigure the field.
- Each participant will get three swings to hit as many home runs as possible.
- Participants can take any amount of pitches without it counting against their swing total.
- The AL will hit first as the visiting team, and the NL will hit second. Teams will alternate hitters for three rounds.
- After three rounds have been completed, the team with the most home runs will be declared the winner of the All-Star Game.
- In the event of a tie (after three rounds), a head-to-head format will take place until the tie is broken, which would look like a swing-off with the selected hitters from each side going swing-for-swing until the tie is broken.
Here’s who would participate if the game is tied after nine innings tonight:
- Ty France (SEA)
- Julio Rodríguez (SEA)
- Kyle Tucker (HOU)
- Pete Alonso (NYM)
- Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL)
- Kyle Schwarber (PHI)
Mike Trout to Captain Team USA at WBC
While attending the All-Star Game festivities in Los Angeles (all though he will be inactive for the game), Mike Trout and Team USA GM Tony Reagins broke the news that the 10-time All-Star will play for Team USA in the 2023 World Baseball Classic and serve as the Captain of the team.
Trout did participate in the 2017 WBC, citing personal reasons at the time, but told the media on Monday afternoon that he was excited to do so this time around.
“I’m excited; it means a lot,” Trout said. “I missed the opportunity [to play for Team USA] the first time, and I knew this was a chance I can’t miss, so it’s going to be fun with the team we put together, the that Tony [Reagins] puts together. I’m looking forward to March.”
The World Baseball Classic Twitter announced Monday that former San Francisco Giants skipper Bruce Bochy will again manage Team France in the 2023 WBC. Bochy, 67, was born in France and was named the manager of the French National Team for the 2021 WBC qualifiers before the event was postponed due to COVID-19.
Bochy led the Giants to three World Series titles during his 13 seasons as the skipper in San Francisco but retired after the 2019 season.
Odds and Ends …
- Ronald Acuña Jr. was not a fan of the pyrotechnics during last night’s introductions.
- J-Rod’s 63 home runs through the first two rounds of the Home Run Derby topped Ken Griffey Jr’s (three-time Derby champ) career Derby total.
- Last night’s Home Run Derby winner Juan Soto was two years old when Albert Pujols hit his first home run. Soto beat his childhood idol in the semifinals of last night’s Home Run Derby.
- Julio Rodríguez became the first player to ever record two 30-home runs rounds in the same Home Run Derby last night:
- Michael called it:
- This is awesome!
- Enjoy the game tonight, everyone!