It isn’t a traditional baseball season at this point without the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game.
Although the All-Star Game doesn’t mean what it once did, the Home Run Derby still remains an extremely popular event. Some of the game’s best sluggers, including reigning champion Pete Alonso, will square off at Coors Field and attempt to mash as many home runs into the mountains as they can.
Since the Derby held its inaugural event in 1985, some of the sport’s most prolific home run hitters have participated. Alonso, the Mets’ star first baseman, is looking to make history this summer.
Pete Alonso hopes to retain his crown at this year’s Derby
Alonso smashed a rookie record and MLB-high 53 home runs with the Mets in 2019. But on a single night in July, the All-Star first baseman showcased his power swing on national television.
Alonso, 24 at the time, hit 57 home runs in the 2019 Home Run Derby. He took down Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who mashed a staggering 91 homers that night, 23-22 in the final round. Although Guerrero had far more home runs than Alonso, he lost the event because of the bracket format.
Now, Alonso is back for more. He is one of eight players in this year’s derby and, because the league did not hold the event in 2020, is still the defending champion. The third-year first baseman is the No. 5 seed and will face Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez in the first round.
Has anyone won the Home Run Derby more than once?
If Alonso wins his second consecutive Derby, he’ll be following in Ken Griffey Jr.’s footsteps in more ways than one.
Griffey, the legendary Mariners outfielder, won an MLB-record three Home Run Derby events in his career. His second title came at Coors Field, the site of this year’s event, in 1998. He also won at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh in July 1994 and at Boston’s Fenway Park in 1999.
For over a decade, Griffey remained the only player with multiple Home Run Derby victories. Then came Prince Fielder, who won the derby in 2009 with the Milwaukee Brewers and in 2012 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
Fielder’s home runs at Kauffman Stadium in 2012 must have put something in the water. Then-Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes recorded consecutive victories in 2013 (Citi Field in New York City) and 2014 (Target Field in Minneapolis).
Who are the favorites to win the 2021 Home Run Derby?
The odds are slightly stacked against Alonso joining Cespedes, Fielder, and Griffey as multi-time champions, at least this year.
As of publication, The Action Network gave Alonso +450 (bet $100 and win $550) odds of winning the derby. That ranked third behind Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani (+300) and Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo (+350).
Perez — Alonso’s first-round opponent — and Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini each have the lowest odds at +1000. Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, the hometown hero who could be traded in the coming weeks, has +600 odds.
Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (+500) and Athletics first baseman Matt Olson (+750) round out the pack. Alonso can only hope his experience helps him become the fourth multi-time champion.