Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
Before all of the All-Stars took the field on Tuesday night in Cleveland, a few of the strongest bats in the league went toe-to-toe in the Home Run Derby on Monday, including Houston's own Alex Bregman. Here is a recap of the night full of dingers:
Round 1 - Matchup 1: #5 Joc Pederson vs. #4 Alex Bregman
Houston fans didn't have to wait long to see their guy step into the box; his matchup was first on the schedule. Joc Pederson, the five seed from the Dodgers, went first, and was able to get 17 home runs in his regular four minutes, but was able to get an extension of 30 seconds by hitting two over 440 feet. He would add four more in those 30 seconds, setting the bar at 21 for Alex Bregman.
Bregman had plenty of friends cheering him on, but Bregman got out to a rough start, getting just six homers in the first minute and a half before taking his timeout. He did better after his break, but would be unable to get on a big enough streak, ending his round with 16 and coming up five home runs short, losing in the first round for the second straight year.
Winner: Joc Pederson
Round 1 - Matchup 2: #8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. #1 Matt Chapman
The next matchup was between the lowest seeded, and youngest ever participant, Vladimir Guerrero Jr of the Blue Jays and the highest seeded Matt Chapman from the A's, who took the spot of Christian Yelich who sat out the tournament with back soreness. Guerrero Jr. came out swinging, launching some monster dingers in the early parts of his round, quickly earning a 30-second bonus. He took his timeout with 2:48 left and seven homers on the board. He went on to finish his regular four minutes with 24 then added four more in his extra time for a total of 28, a new single-round record.
Matt Chapman waited longer into his round to take his break, stopping with 1:47 left but with just nine long balls recorded, though he had already earned the 30-second extension. He took his 13 total into the extra half-minute but would be unable to add any more, losing the round.
Winner: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Round 1 - Matchup 3: #6 Ronald Acuna Jr. vs. #3 Josh Bell
The next matchup started with Ronald Acuna Jr. from the Braves who put together a solid round. He quickly hit two home runs over the 440 foot mark, earning the bonus time when his regular four minutes was over. He hit 11 out of the park before taking his timeout with 1:41 left. He went on a tear after his breather, getting 12 more to bring his regular-time total to 23 then added one more in the extra time to finish with 24 overall.
Josh Bell of the Pirates looked to beat that high total, but would struggle to find his rhythm in the first half of his time, going into his break with just four and 2:33 left on the clock. He would heat up after that, getting up to 17 at the end of four minutes. He would only be able to add one more in the extra time, ending with 18 and losing the round.
Winner: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Round 1 - Matchup 4: #7 Carlos Santana vs. #2 Pete Alonso
The final matchup of the first round started with the hometown representative, Carlos Santana of the Indians. He was slow out the gate, not getting his first home run until nearly a minute into his clock. He would struggle to string multiple long balls together, taking his time out with five on the board and just 1:41 left. He did well in the remainder of his time, climbing up to 13, but would not earn the bonus time.
That set things up for rookie Pete Alonso of the Mets, the number two seed in the bracket. He too would have a rough start to his round, taking his timeout with 1:44 left on the clock and behind the pace at six home runs. He would do better with the time he had left, hitting the round-winning fourteenth home run with just a few seconds left in his regular time.
Winner: Pete Alonso
Round 2 - Matchup 1: #8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. #5 Joc Pederson
Guerrero Jr. was first up in the second round and was once again hitting mammoth homers at a quick rate, getting nine quickly and earning the bonus time before taking his timeout early with 2:39 left in the round. He would continue to mash dinger after dinger, ending his original four minutes with 27. In his extra 30 seconds, he would match his record he set in the previous round, getting two more to bring his total to 29.
Pederson didn't go quietly or surrender his time away, getting out to a hot start in his half of the round. He earned his extra 30 seconds and had 14 home runs when he took his time out halfway through his time. He kept stringing multiple home runs together, staying within reach and ending his regular four minutes with 27, just two away from Guerrero's total. Pederson would finish tied with 29 total.
That set up a one-minute tiebreaker, where Guerrero Jr. would start things off with eight more home runs to bring his total to 37. Pederson, after an amazing round to tie things up, would match Guerrero Jr. yet again, getting eight of his own to re-tie things at 37 in the round.
The next tiebreaker was a three swing matchup. Guerrero Jr. left an opening for Pederson, getting just one home run out of his three chances. Pederson was in a great position after getting one down on his first swing but would come short on his second and third swings, setting up one more round.
In the next swing-off, Guerrero Jr. would get home runs on the first two swings before flying out on the third. That would be enough to win the absolute thriller of a round, with Pederson getting just one home run in his half of the third tiebreaker.
Winner: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Round 2 - Matchup 2: #6 Ronald Acuna Jr. vs. #2 Pete Alonso
In the other semifinal, Acuna Jr. started slower than in his first round, getting nine home runs before calling his timeout with 1:42 left. He was able to pick up the pace slightly after that and after getting his two 440-plus homers headed into his bonus 30 seconds with a total of 18. He would get just one more in the extra time, ending with 19.
Alonso looked to be in trouble, getting just eight home runs before taking his break with 1:49 left, though he had already added 30 seconds to his time. He wouldn't need it, though, getting winning home run number 20 on the last swing of his regular four minutes, sending him on to the final round.
Winner: Pete Alonso
Round 3 - Final: #8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. #2 Pete Alonso
The final matchup would pit the two dominant rookies against each other, and first to the plate was Guerrero Jr. who hoped to get one more electric round to take home the crown. He would take his first of two timeouts allowed in the final round with 2:52 left and with five homers recorded. He added three more before taking the other timeout a minute later. He finished his initial four minutes with 20 before coming back for his 30 second bonus time. In the bonus time, he would tack on two more to end at 22, bringing his total for the night to 91, a new record.
That put the ball in Alonso's hands, and he would start decently, getting eight homers before his first timeout with 2:47 left. He added ten more, including two over 440 feet to earn 30 more seconds, before taking his other break with 1:02 left. He would not need the extra time, getting the winning 23rd home run of the round with 18 seconds left.
Winner and 2019 Home Run Derby Champion: Pete Alonso
With a new season on the horizon, the Astros have high hopes for 2024 after coming just one game shy of being in the World Series for three consecutive seasons.
If Houston wants to get back to the Fall Classic in 2024, they're going to have to rely on their pitching. Owner Jim Crane believes the club has 8 starting pitchers when Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. return mid-season.
Which allows several of the starters to move to the bullpen and provide even more depth. Add those guys to Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Josh Hader and you have a recipe for success.
Check out the video above as ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham goes through the entire staff and makes his case for the Astros having the best pitching staff in baseball.
You can listen to The Killer B's with Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank every weekday on ESPN 97.5 & 92.5 from 3 pm - 6 pm!