- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. set the record for most home runs in a single HR Derby, but it was Mets rookie Pete Alonso who ended up as the champion.
That Home Run Derby was everything fans could've hoped for, with the future of baseball dominating in the spotlight on Monday night in Cleveland. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. set the record for most home runs in a single round (29) and total homers in a Derby (91). In the end, Pete Alonso outlasted Vladito when he mashed 23 dingers in the final round, one more than Guerrero.
Our baseball writers, Emma Baccellieri and Matt Martell, delivered insight and commentary throughout the competition. Relive the extraordinary even with our live blog below.
Emma: This was just crazy fun! I realize I said that multiple times throughout the night, but it really is just such a blast to watch these great young players get to go at it and swing big in this format. I mean, the double-swing-off alone? It's perfect. It's the best of what we can hope for from All-Star Week, and we're all better off having gotten to see it. It's also worth noting the fact that the $1 million payout is nearly double Alonso's salary! Easy to lose sight of the pay structure here when you're watching rookies kill it.
Matt: I'm with you on this one. Regardless of what we say about the spike in home runs this season, there remains an undeniable thrill for fans when we see great hitters crush dingers. Pete Alonso is the player the Mets need, a franchise bat who is comfortable in the spotlight. Like the Jacob deGrom Cy Young was for them last year, Alonso's win is confirmation that all isn't lost for the Mets just yet. But we also have to acknowledge the incredible talent of Vlad Jr. We've been hearing about him forever, but for the baseball fans who don't sit down to watch Blue Jays games, they now know what all the hype is about.
Pete Alonso beats Vlad Guerrero Jr., 23-22, to win the 2019 HR. Derby — 10:50 p.m. ET
Emma: WOW. Man, how fun all around!
Matt: Josh Hamilton Part II. Vlad Jr. hit the most home runs, but Alonso hit more in the final round.
Emma: Trying get the crowd into it during his second timeout.
Matt: After they boo'ed him.
Emma: I respect it.
Emma: Off to a nice pace here to start!
Matt: He needs to start getting some more lift on it
Vlad Jr. finishes the final round with 22 home runs. Pete Alonso has yet to hit that many in a round. He's up next.
Matt: He just pulled a pitch in the other batters box for a HR!!!
Emma: When Vlad Sr. won...... Vladito was eight. I realize we hype up his age constantly and universally, but it feels like five seconds (*maybe* like two or three years??) since then, and it was MORE THAN HALF VLADITO'S LIFETIME AGO.
Matt: I think I have a better concept of time than you. Because it definitely doesn't feel like 2-3 years.
Emma: It was yesterday and I will not hear other answers!
Vlad Jr.'s up first.
Emma: Okay, who you got?
Matt: I want Vladdy, but I picked Pete with my mulligan. SO I CAN'T LOSE
Who are you picking?
Either way, though, this should be a blast. Hopefully we don't see Vlad Jr. tire out too much, though.
Semifinals No. 2: Pete Alonso crushes a buzzer-beater for his 20th HR to beat Acuña Jr. — 10:24 p.m. ET
Emma: OH HEY PETE
Matt: LETS OUT A ROAR
Emma: Even the far less dramatic of the two semis includes a buzzer-beater!
Acuña hits 19 homers. Here comes Alonso.
Emma: 19 home runs is very respectable!! And after the stretch we just saw, 19 feels totally empty!
Matt: My homer high is wearing off. I NEED MORE DINGERS.
I wonder if the layoff could actually hurt Acuña and Alonso
Emma: Yeah, that was a loooong time to sit
Matt: Like a pitcher during a long offensive inning for his team
Acuña is first to hit. Here we go.
Matt: Who ya got here, Emma?
Emma: I'm taking Pete.
Matt: Let's get two rookies in the finals! I'm taking Pete, too.
Vladdy Daddy has spoken!
OMG ❗️❗️❗️— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) July 9, 2019
Emma: Some definite shades of that 2008 Josh Hamilton Derby, when he had that absolutely wild semifinal and the final just felt anticlimactic afterwards.
Semifinals No. 1: Vlad Jr. outlasts Joc Pederson in three tiebreaker rounds, 40-39 — 10:04 p.m. ET
Matt: I don't want this to end
Emma: This is just incredible, man. The drama!!! What a blast
WOW. Okay. On to the next one!!
They both hit one homer in that swing-off. We do it again!
Matt: JOC PULLED IT FOUL!
Matt: Acuna and Alonso SHOULD have an advantage in the finals, right?
Emma: Right, they're getting some great rest in right now!
Matt: But I can't doubt either of these twoPederson launches his 37th homer in the round as time expires. He ties Vladdy again. The next tiebreaker is a swing-off, with 3 swings per hitter.
THIS IS AMAZING
I'M LOSING IT
Vlad Jr. hits eight homers in a minute. Can Joc match him?
Matt: This is the greatest thing ever. Vladdy is having so much fun!
Pederson ties Vlad Jr. with 29 homers. The tiebreaker is a 60-second swing-off
Emma: 3 in 30 seconds -- even if he's tiring, that's very possible!!
Matt: I WANT SUDDEN DEATH
Emma: WOW! My GOODNESS!
This is so freaking fun. This format is just perfect, I've loved it since they've changed it
Pederson crushes 27 homers BEFORE bonus time. He needs to hit three in 30 seconds to beat Vlad Jr.
Matt: Joc's working quick. If he doesn't get tired, he has a chance.
Emma: Man, as impressive as Vlad Jr. was there... Joc's really going in here!
Vlad Jr. ties the record he set in the first round, with 29 homers again — 9:42 p.m. ET
Emma: Wow. What a perfect angel.
Vlad Jr. hits 27 BEFORE bonus time. He's got more in him.
Emma: HERE HE GOES
THE KID IS ON FIRE
Matt: CAN HE GET MORE THAN 29????
Emma: HELP, WE ARE NOT WORTHY, THIS IS NOT SAFE FOR BASIC CABLE
Matt: I don't care that I picked Pete after my mulligan. I WANT Vladdy to win.
Emma: Yep. Lotta fun players here! But Vladito takes them all.
Pete Alonso beats Carlos Santana with one second left in regulation — 9:28 p.m.
Matt: Pete walks it off! The Mets can have SOMETHING good happen for them!
Emma: With a healthy smattering of boos, too!!
Matt: Pete could take advantage of Santana's low total. He could hit 14 quick before time expires and then rest.
Santana hits 13 homers and doesn't qualify for the bonus — 9:22 p.m.
Matt: Carlos Santana is having a rough time.
Emma: Oh, man, that Grady Sizemore reference going straight to my heart..... we're all so old...
Matt: So is Carlos Santana compared to the rest of the field.
Emma: (I believe this dates to my seventh-grade algebra notebook)
Great gel pen collection, though!
Also, c'mon, Santana!! Would be nice to see the home-town guy get a little more going here...
Emma: I regret that we will not get to see any more of Josh Bell's mom's fantastic hat.
Ronald Acuña Jr. beats Josh Bell, 25-18 — 9:12 p.m. ET
Matt: Bell's timing looks off. He has no rhythm with his pitcher.
Emma: These might be our last two minutes to imagine that we'll get to see fanfiction from Trevor Williams!
Princess Bride - Harry Potter - Star Wars really is an inspired combo.
Emma: You keep using that word, I don't think you know what it means...
Emma: We interrupt this Princess Bride chat to bring you two sweet cinnamon rolls, too pure for this world:
Matt: Mike Trout is looking at Vladito like he's a weather map.
Acuña hits 25 home runs — 9:04 p.m.
Emma: Here's some fun perspective: Acuña was older when he debuted—when everyone freaked out about how wildly young he was!—than Guerrero is right now
By 14 days! But STILL
Matt: I feel like such an underachiever!
Emma: I'm going to be 25 soon, might as well join AARP
Emma: I'll take advantage of this break in the action to say how much I wish Joey Gallo was here.
Matt: I'll take advantage of this break to insert a My Cousin Vinny reference—Joey CALLO... (yes, I know it was Jerry in the movie)
Vlad Jr. knocks out Matt Chapman, who finishes with 13 homers — 8:50 p.m. ET
Emma: I'm a big sucker for the father-son pairings here
....unless the father gets stressed on the big stage and struggles to throw strikes, yikes, poor Mr. Chapman!!
Matt: I wish Vlad Sr. threw to Vladito.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. finishes with 29 home runs, a new single-round Derby record — 8:43 p.m. ET
Emma: I feel like I could run through a wall right now
The children are our future!
ALL HAIL OUR SWEET BOY KING VLADITO— Emma Baccellieri (@emmabaccellieri) July 9, 2019
Matt: What were you doing when you were 20?
Emma: Definitely nothing approaching even the most infinitesimal fraction of this.
Matt: GIVE ME 30!
He's been taking it easy in the regular season and saving his home runs for the Derby!
Emma: Man, it just gives me such joy to watch Vladito!
Matt: Welp. I was WAY to confident in Bregman. Can I get a mulligan?
Emma: Go for it
Matt: Give me Pete Alonso. He goes oppo well and has the power to get into the bonus round.
Emma: Our big beautiful boy!
Joc Pederson starts off the show with 21 dingers to beat Alex Bregman's 16 — 8:32 p.m. ET
Matt: Check that...
He might not qualify for the bonus time
But I still think he wins
Emma: Yeah, two minutes is a loooot of time left
Pederson rips 21 home runs. Next up is Bregman.
Matt: Does Bregman beat Joc's 21?
Emma: I'll call YES. In bonus time, by one.
Matt: I don't think he's gonna need bonus time to do it.
Emma: Impressive total for a slow start there!
Emma: Here's a question: The ump in the shallow outfield. What's his deal? What is he tasked with doing here, exactly?
(cutting-edge stuff I know)
Matt: Good timeout for Joc. He was getting long with his swing. Now he's hitting them.
Emma: And we're off!
Emma Baccellieri: We live in a world dominated by home runs. There are more of them than ever before—MLB is on track to hit a record number for the second time in three years—prompting a near constant stream of theories about the potential role of the ball (juiced?), the players (stronger than ever?), and Statcast (launch angle!). But, amidst all this, tonight should be a respite from home runs as a symbol of the state of the modern game. Tonight, we get home runs for the sake of home runs, nothing more and nothing less. The Home Run Derby is not a place for discourse. It's a place for DINGERS. And, boy, should we get them—with real money on the line for the first time, too. My pick? With Christian Yelich out, I'm going Josh Bell, which, with any luck, will yield us some wonderful fanfiction:
Matt Martell: This year's Home Run Derby field is the perfect representation of baseball's demographic in 2019: Only one player is older than 27—Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana. But as Emma noted, this is no time for existential dread about the modern game. Tonight is a celebration of dingers. It's an ode to distances, excit velos and launch angles. It's an occasion to bask in the glory of dingers. Tonight, let's sit back and dig the long ball. As far as predictions go, I'm taking Alex Bregman. He's made it his mission to expand baseball's fanbase, and there are few better opportunities to grow the game than by putting on a show at the Derby.