Heading into Monday’s Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium, New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso is a big favorite.
Alonso, 27, is the two-time defending champion and hopes to become the first player to win three consecutive derbies. He hit 74 home runs in last year’s event at Coors Field and his 131 career derby homers are more than any player in history.
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He’s got some powerful competition though. The Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber has the No. 1 overall seed in the eight-player field with 29 homers heading into the All-Star break.
Albert Pujols, playing his 22nd and final year in the league, is in the derby for the first time since 2015.
Home Run Derby predictions
From USA TODAY Sports MLB writers and editors:
Bob Nightengale: Pete Alonso – The guy is made for the Home Run Derby. He may be the GOAT. He is just the third player in history to win back-to-back Home Run Derbies, and the derby’s first-ever three-peat would tie him with Ken Griffey Jr. for the most wins in history. So why not pick the man who has mastered the craft of winning these events?
Gabe Lacques: Pete Alonso: It’s always tempting to stray from the chalk pick, but nobody is better built and duly motivated to win this thing than the two-time champ. Kyle Schwarber will catch a groove and muscle his way to the finals, but the stubborn and powerful Alonso will prove too formidable to dislodge.
Steve Gardner: Ronald Acuña Jr. – It’s really hard to go against two-time defending Derby champion Pete Alonso. But if anyone can match Alonso’s raw power and bat speed, it’s Acuña. Dodger Stadium is much more homer-friendly for right-handed batters, so that eliminates Kyle Schwarber, Juan Soto and Corey Seager. Look for Acuña to upset Alonso in the first round and cruise to victory.
Jesse Yomtov: Pete Alonso – Chalk and deservedly so. There have been few men in baseball history who love hitting dingers more than Alonso. He’s got last licks in the first two rounds and isn’t going to let anybody beat him because this is what he does.
Chris Bumbaca: Pete Alonso – We measure greatness in threes. Pete Alonso cements himself as an all-time great in the Home Run Derby and three-peats.