'I'm going to win it again': Pete Alonso looks to repeat as Home Run Derby champ

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·4 min read
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Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is returning to the Home Run Derby Monday night in Colorado in hopes of winning for the second consecutive time. In 2019, he defeated the Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 23-22 in the final round. (Jason Miller/Getty Images/File - image credit)
Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is returning to the Home Run Derby Monday night in Colorado in hopes of winning for the second consecutive time. In 2019, he defeated the Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 23-22 in the final round. (Jason Miller/Getty Images/File - image credit)

Blue Jays fans in Toronto and across Canada will need to find a different slugger to cheer for Monday night during the Home Run Derby.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who lit up the night sky at the 2019 event at Progressive Field in Cleveland, told reporters last month he was skipping the Derby to "refresh mentally" for the second half.

The 45-42 Blue Jays are eight games behind American League East-leading Boston (55-36) at the all-star break and 4 ½ games back of division rival Tampa Bay and Oakland in the wild-card race.

Two years ago, Guerrero set records for the most home runs in a single round (29) and in a single Derby (91) but lost to New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso in the finals. Last year's event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WATCH | Guerrero Jr. loses Derby in historic performance:

The 22-year-old Guerrero Jr. is having a breakout season, leading the majors in batting average (.332), runs batted in (73), on-base percentage (.430) and on-base-plus slugging percentage (1.089). He's also tied for second with San Diego's Fernando Tatis Jr. with 28 home runs, three behind Ohtani.

Alonso will try to successfully defend his Derby title at Coors Field in Denver at 8 p.m. ET against Texas' Joey Gallo, Baltimore's Trey Mancini, Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angles, Oakland's Matt Olson, Kansas City's Salvador Perez, Washington's Juan Soto and Colorado's Trevor Story.

Alonso outhomered Guerrero Jr. 23-22 in the final round two years ago with his cousin Derek Morgan throwing to him. On Monday, Mets bench coach Dave Jauss steps in.

"I had so much fun during the first one, so I was like, you know what? Let's do it again," Alonso told The Associated Press recently. "I just had a blast, and it's a really special moment, and as long as I have an opportunity to do it, I want to do it. Because it's something that I always dreamed about as a kid.

"I'm going to win it again," he told the New York Post before Sunday's 6-5 loss to Pittsburgh.

Home-field advantage for Story?

This season, Alonso has 17 home runs, including two in his past three games. In Monday's first round, he will face Royals catcher Perez, who has 21 homers. A seven-time all-star, Perez will be the fourth Kansas City player in the Derby following Bo Jackson (1989), Danny Tartabull (1991) and Mike Moustakas (2017).

Story enters the all-star break batting .249 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI in 285 at-bats. At hitter-friendly Coors Field, he's hitting .309 in 152 at-bats with six homers and 30 RBI.

"I like Trevor's chances as much as anybody," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's got power and I think this ballpark will help him. This is his home park, so the sight lines and the background are something that he's used to."

Ohtani, who will be the first two-way starter in the history of the all-star game on Tuesday as the American League's starting pitcher and leadoff hitter, tops the majors with 33 home runs and has a 4-1 record and 3.49 earned-run average in 13 starts.

At the end of the Rangers' batting practice session on Saturday, players from Texas and the visiting Oakland Athletics gathered on the field at Globe Life Field in Arlington to watch Gallo and Olson prepare for the Home Run Derby.

Both players enter Monday's event swinging a hot bat with Gallo going deep 11 times in his last 15 games and Olson coming off a two-homer performance on Sunday to give him 23 on the season.

Orioles first baseman/designated hitter Trey Mancini has made a seamless comeback to the sport after being diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in March 2020 and having surgery to remove a malignant tumour.

He has played in 86 of the team's 89 games in 2021, batting .256 with 16 home runs and 55 RBI.

Soto, 22, is a first-time all-star. He battled a shoulder injury earlier this season and has 11 home runs in 79 games after swatting 34 in 150 contests during the Nationals' World Series title run in 2019.

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