Juan Soto, one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball, added to his already-lengthy resume on Monday night. The 23-year-old Nationals star won the 2022 MLB Home Run Derby, knocking off Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez in the finals. It's the first Derby title for Soto,.
Rodríguez had a bit of a coming out party before running into Soto in the finals. He ended Pete Alonso's quest for a three-peat in the second round. Alonso had won the event in 2019 and 2021 (there was no Home Run Derby in 2020) and was looking to become the first player ever to win three Derbies in a row. Alonso, however, couldn't match Rodríguez's 31 homers.
earlier in the night. The 42-year-old pulled off a first-round upset of Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber, the top seed in the event, and had both fans and fellow players behind him.
Here's how things shook out Monday night in the eight-slugger field.
Home Run Derby bracket, results
- No. 6 Julio Rodríguez (32 homers) defeats No. 3 Corey Seager (24 homers)
- No. 2 Pete Alonso (20 homers) defeats No. 7 Ronald Acuña Jr. (19 homers)
- No. 4 Juan Soto (18 homers) defeats No. 5 José Ramírez (17 homers)
- No. 8 Albert Pujols (20 homers) defeats No. 1 Kyle Schwarber (19 homers) in tiebreaker
- Julio Rodríguez (31 homers) defeats Pete Alonso (24 homers)
- Juan Soto (16 homers) defeats Albert Pujols (15 homers)
- Juan Soto (19 homers) defeats Julio Rodríguez (18 homers)
And now for five takeaways from the 2022 Derby.
1. Juan Soto survived and advanced
The Nationals young superstar and possible trade bait never seemed to truly find himself at the plate on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, but he did what he needed to do. In the first round, he hit 18 homers, which was enough to top Cleveland's José Ramírez. In the second round, he hit 16 en route to eliminating Albert Pujols, and in the finals he tallied 19 in prevailing over Julio Rodríguez. That's a total of 53, which is far shy of Rodríguez's total of 81. As Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., among others, can attest, the highest overall total doesn't always prevail.
Soto may not have dropped as many jaws as Rodríguez did in the 2022 Derby, but he wound up hoisting the trophy in the end. He's now the second-youngest player ever to win the Derby, behind only Juan Gonzalez.
2. Julio Rodríguez had a first two rounds to remember
The Seattle rookie batsman hit 32 out in the opening round, and then he hit 31 homers in the semis. Those dual outbursts occasioned some Derby history:
Before tonight, there had been FOUR 30-HR rounds in HR Derbies— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) July 19, 2022
Now Julio Rodríguez has TWO HIMSELF
He's the 1st player with 2 in a single Derby
Rodríguez, the AL Rookie of the Year frontrunner at the break, is just 21 years and 100 days old. That makes him the third-youngest player every to make a Derby final. The only younger players to do it were Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2019 and Bryce Harper in 2013. Suffice it to say, Rodríguez's future is a bright one, as is his present.
3. Albert Pujols shocked us all
At 42 years and 183 days old, Albert Pujols was, by a substantial margin, the oldest Home Run Derby participant ever. As such expectations for him were low going into this year's Derby, and that's especially the case given that Pujols in the first round was paired against No. 1 seed and current National League home run leader Kyle Schwarber.
In defiance of those expectations, however, Pujols edged Schwarber and advanced past the first round. The future Hall of Famer hit 13 home runs in his turn – 10 and then three more during bonus time – which very much felt like it wouldn't be enough. Schwarber, however, was unable to find any kind of lasting groove, and he, too, landed on 13. That meant a swing-off.
In that swing-off, Pujols hit seven for 20 total, and Schwarber came up short. With that, perhaps the biggest upset in Derby history was complete:
This marked Pujols' fifth career Derby appearance, and with the stunner over Schwarber he became the first player ever to advance past the first round on five occasions.
Now for some related content:
Age when Albert Pujols hit his first MLB home run:— Jim Passon (@PassonJim) July 19, 2022
José Ramírez - 8 years, 201 days
Kyle Schwarber - 8 years, 32 days
Corey Seager - 6 years, 344 days
Pete Alonso - 6 years, 120 days
Ronald Acuña Jr. - 3 years, 109 days
Juan Soto - 2 years, 163 days
Julio Rodríguez - 98 days
Also worth noting is that just after the conclusion of Pujols' regulation round, when it looked like his Derby stay would be a brief one, All-Stars in attendance gave him a warm round of appreciation and presumed send-off:
Pujols, though, wasn't quite ready to make his exit.
4. Pete Alonso had chance to make history
Alonso won the 2019 Derby and then prevailed again last year. Given that there was no Derby (or All-Star Game) in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alonso counts as a back-to-back Derby champ. That gave him a shot to become the first ever to win three straight Home Run Derbies, but Julio Rodríguez wasn't in a cooperative mood. Alonso also missed the chance to join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only three-time Derby winners.
As things are, though, Alonso remains one just four players, along with Griffey Jr., Prince Fielder and Yoenis Céspedes, to win multiple Derbies. Given how much Alonso seems to enjoy participating and how seriously he takes it (deadlifts! meditation!), it wouldn't be surprising if he's part of the field next year and beyond. Here's hoping
5. The overall numbers are something to behold
In all, the 2022 Home Run Derby gave us ...
- 291 home runs
- 22.9 miles of home runs
- 31 home runs that traveled at least 450 feet
- Two home runs that traveled at least 480 feet (one by Alonso, and one by Soto)
- 33 home runs that left the bat at 110 mph or greater
We were promised dingers, and, people, we got dingers.