Pete Alonso is ready to take a swing at the title…
The 26-year-old Spanish-American New York Metsslugger is in for this year’s Home Run Derby at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Alonso won the contest the last time it was held, in 2019, edging fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr.at Cleveland’s Progressive Field for his first derby title.
“I’m all-in,” Alonso said Thursday afternoon from Wrigley Field, where the Mets finish up a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs. “I’m ready. If I get invited, I’d love to do it. I’d love to defend my title.”
Last year’s Home Run Derby was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 edition will take place July 12 at Colorado’s Coors Field after Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game and related festivities from Atlanta.
Alonso committed to the derby the day after hitting a monster home run that landed on the street beyond the left-center-field bleachers at Wrigley Field. It was measured at 429 feet.
“I’m very happy that ball went far,” Alonso said. “I think Statcast kind of stumped me. I think that ball did not go [only] 429 feet, but that’s what the computer says, and I think the computer is wrong.”
Alonso’s longest home run of his career was measured at 485 feet. He thinks Wednesday’s long ball was closer to that figure than 429 feet.
“If that ball went 429 feet, that’s the shortest ball that’s ever left this stadium,” Alonso said. “I’ve hit plenty of balls here that have gone 430 feet, but if a ball leaves the stadium, there’s no way that ball went only 429 feet.”
Alonso has three home runs this season entering Thursday night’s game against the Cubs. He led the majors with 53 in 2019, his rookie year.
He enjoyed Wednesday’s homer as much as any he has hit.
“That was one of my favorite home runs I’ve hit,” he said. “That’s top five for me.”
Pete Alonso is living proof that persistence pays off…
The 24-year-old part-Spanish American Major League Baseball player began the 2019 season fighting just to make the New York Mets‘ Opening Day roster. But he ends it as the National League Rookie of the Year after slugging a rookie record 53 home runs, driving in 120 runs and becoming a cult hero for Mets fans for his energy and enthusiasm and one memorable bare-chested postgame interview.
Alonso was a near unanimous selection of the award’s 30 voters, getting 29 first-place votes. Atlanta Braves starter Mike Soroka received the other first-place vote and finished second, with San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. finishing third.
Soroka posted a 2.68 ERA and won 13 games as the ace of the division-winning Braves. Tatis slashed .317/.379/.590 and dazzled fans with his defensive plays in the infield, but an injury ended his season at 84 games.
“To just win the award, doesn’t matter if it’s unanimous or not,” Alonso said on Monday night. “It’s still such a blessing.”
Alonso’s 53 home runs broke Aaron Judge‘s rookie record of 52 set in 2017, as Alonso became the sixth Rookie of the Year in Mets history, the first since Jacob deGrom in 2014.
He joins Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Davis as the only active players with 50 home runs in a season and he’s just the 30th player in MLB history to reach that mark.
His 120 RBIs are the seventh most for a rookie in major league history and the most since Albert Pujols had 130 in 2001.
Alonso’s storybook season was no sure thing back in spring training, however. Although he led the minors with 39 home runs in 2018, the Mets had a glut of infielders with Robinson Cano, Jed Lowrie, Todd Frazier and Dominic Smith all in the mix at first, second and third base along with Alonso. There were also concerns about Alonso’s defense, and many teams start their top prospects in Triple-A for a couple of weeks to manipulate the player’s service time.
Alonso, however, earned a roster spot after hitting .352 with four home runs in spring training. It also helped that Lowrie and Frazier began the season on the injured list.
Alonso, a second-round pick in 2016 out of the University of Florida, ran with the opportunity, hitting .378 with six home runs in his first 12 games. He said he was challenged by first-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenento “show up in shape and earn your spot.”
“I felt like I answered the bell,” Alonso said.
He finished April with nine home runs, bashed 10 more in May and entered the All-Starbreak with 30 home runs. In Cleveland, he took home the $1 million prize for winning the Home Run Derby, upstaging fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr.in the final round with a 23-22 victory after Guerrero had bashed 40 home runs in the semifinals.
“It’s survive and advance,” Alonso said after his win. “You’ve got to go in with kind of a killer instinct. It doesn’t matter how many you hit; you just need to have one more than the guy you’re facing.”
Alonso also won over fans when he pledged 5% of his winnings to the Wounded Warrior Projectand another 5% to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Along the way, Alonso became a fan favorite, not just for his prodigious home runs — he hit 15 of at least 430 feet — but also for his infectious joy and his ability to win over New Yorkers. When the Mets began surging back into the playoff race in early August, he issued a not-safe-for-work rallying cry playing off the “Let’s go Mets!” chant. After a walk-off bases-loaded walk beat the Philadephia Phillies on September 6, Mets teammates ripped off Alonso’s jersey and he conducted interviews on SNY and MLB Network bare-chested.
“I’m not taking my shirt off for this one,” Alonso joked on MLB Network’s broadcast while accepting the award.
He wore custom-made cleats on September 11 to honor the victims of 9/11, even ordering a pair for each of his teammates. “For me, I just come from a place where I want to show support, not just for the victims but their families as well, because no one really knows how deep those emotional scars can be,” Alonso said at the time.
He smashed his 42nd home run on August 27, breaking the Mets’ team record shared by Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley. With three games remaining in the regular season, Alonso was one homer away from tying Judge. He matched him with a home run at home against the Braves in Game 160 and then surpassed Judge in Game 161 with a third-inning home run off Mike Foltynewicz, a towering shot to right-center. Alonso raised both arms over his head in triumph, received hugs from teammates and a standing ovation from the crowd, and then he wiped tears from his eyes while playing first base the following inning.
“To me, it just means so much,” Alonso said after the game. “I didn’t know I was going to be overcome with all that emotion. At that point, I might as well just let it out.”
The 24-year-old part-Spanish American professional baseball player, a first baseman for the New York Mets, outslugged the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in a battle of rookies to win the Home Run Derby at Cleveland’s Progressive Field on Monday night.
Guerrero had broken the Derby’s single-round record in each of the first two rounds, but after surviving an exhausting duel with Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the semifinal round, Guerrero didn’t have enough to beat Alonso in the final.
The Blue Jays rookie, trying to follow in the footsteps of his Hall of Famefather, who won the event in San Francisco in 2007, went first in the final, and after initially struggling to duplicate his earlier pace, he picked it up after calling a second timeout and finished with 22 home runs.
Alonso, unique in the competition in sending most of his hits toward center field, then followed with 23 to spare to end it with plenty of time.
He became the first Met to win the event since Darryl Strawberrywas a co-champion in 1986.
“That was a blast. Oh my god, that was a blast,” Alonso said after his win. “I’m gonna remember that for the rest of my life.”
With the win came a cool $1 million bonus to supplement Alonso’s base salary of $555,000.
He said he would donate 10% of his winnings between two charities, the Wounded Warriors Projectand the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
“I have the utmost respect for the people that put their lives on the line every single day — and I just wanna show my gratitude, because a bad day for me is a lot different than a bad day for the servicemen and women that serve this country,” Alonso said.
Guerrero has eight major league home runs in his rookie year, and he hit 44 total homers in the minors. But at the Derby, he hit 91.
The biggest drama of the night came in the semifinal round, when he needed three tiebreakers to eliminate Pederson 40-39.
Before this year’s Derby, only six players had hit 40 home runs in an entire event, much less a single round.
“I feel bad for him,” an exhausted Pederson said after his final swing. “He’s gotta keep hitting; I’m toast.”
Pederson, who lost in the final as a rookie in 2015, now has the most combined home runs at the Derby all time, with 99, while Guerrero — in his first appearance — tied the previous record of 91 held by Todd Frazier, who also competed twice.Guerrero did have the honor of hitting the longest homer of the night, 488 feet, in the second round. That netted him a $100,000 bonus to go with his $500,000 for finishing second, which more than equals his season’s salary of $468
The 20-year-old Dominican professional baseball third baseman, widely considered one of the top prospects in baseball, will be called up by the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday and is expected to make his major league debut, manager Charlie Montoyoannounced.
Guerrero, the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, was No. 2 on ESPN insider Keith Law‘s 2019 top prospects list. The Jays have yet to announce a corresponding roster move.
“It’s going to be a great moment. I get goosebumps just thinking about it,” Montoyo told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. “We have been talking about this for a long time, and it’s just so exciting that the moment is finally here.
“I am so happy. This was such an important moment, not only for the city of Toronto and for the Toronto Blue Jays but for our entire baseball community, that the No. 1 prospect in baseball will debut Friday. He is so talented, that the sky is the limit for that young kid. In my case, personally, I am just excited to see him play every day and see what he can do.”
Guerrero’s father, who played the first eight seasons of his 16-year career with the Montreal Expos, took to Twitterto celebrate the news.
“My son! The country that saw you as a child will now see you turn into a big one. Working hard everything can be done. I’m proud of you,” he wrote. T
Toronto will host the Oakland Athleticson Friday for the start of a three-game series, with right-hander Mike Fiers scheduled to start for the A’s and Marcus Stromantaking the hill for the Blue Jays.
Montoyo told Rivera that he hasn’t decided where he’ll slot Guerrero in the lineup.
Guerrero hit .381 with 20 homers and 78 RBIs in 95 games while rocketing through four levels of minor league ball last season.
There was a possibility that he could make the Blue Jays’ big league roster out of spring training, but a strained oblique early in spring camp ruined any chance of that.
Guerrero has continued to perform this season with Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .367 with three homers and eight RBIs in eight games, including a home run in Wednesday’s game.
Montoyo told Rivera that it will be his job as manager to ease the amount of pressure on Guerrero.
“The great thing about this kid is that he’s so humble, he’s so unique,” Montoyo said. “He acts and plays like he’s been in the big leagues for a long time, and it will be an easy transition for him.”