If you thought Pete Alonso’s rookie season couldn’t get any more magical, think again. After hitting 30 homers in the first half and making the All-Star team in his first MLB season, the Mets’ first base slugger added another notch to his belt in Cleveland on Monday night by winning the 2019 Home Run Derby, besting some of the premiere power hitters in the game while doing so.
Entering the night as the number two seed in the eight-player field, Alonso first matched up against Carlos Santana, who had the hometown crowd cheering him on. Santana went up to the plate first, and he hit an unremarkable 13 homers in the four-minute batting session, which tied for the lowest amount of bombs from any player in the first round. One would have thought that Alonso would have no problem beating that number, but he got off to a rather slow start, as he only had six homers when he took his timeout with 1:44 left on the clock. He managed to heat up in that last stretch of time just enough to end the round with 14 homers, with his round-advancing bomb coming on his final swing.
With that just barely good enough performance, Alonso moved onto the second round to face division rival Ronald Acuna Jr., who hit 25 homers in the first round to advance past Josh Bell. Both players had a lengthy waiting period while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Joc Pederson battled through an epic slugfest in which the two tied each other in three straight rounds—which the former ultimately won—after which Acuna began the contest. He finished the round with 19 homers—a number which included a couple he hit during the thirty extra seconds he got by hitting two 440+ foot bombs—which gave Alonso the number to beat. Once again, he got off to a fairly slow start, but got hot right when he needed to, as he once again hit the winning home run in his final swing of the round to move onto the finals.
Alonso faced off against Guerrero Jr. in the finals, who put on an absolute show in the first two rounds with some majestic shots. The tiebreaker rounds the latter had to endure against Pederson had clearly tired him out a bit, as his swing did not have quite the same force that it did in the previous rounds, but he still managed to hit 22 balls out of the stadium. That output meant that Alonso would have to improve upon his performance in both of the first two rounds, and he proved up to the task, as he hit the Derby-winning bomb with a little over 20 seconds remaining in the round.
The Amazins have only had a few participants in the Home Run Derby over the years, and while there were a couple impressive performances among that small group—Darryl Strawberry being a co-winner in 1986 and David Wright being the runner-up in 2006—Mets fans as a whole have not had a ton to look forward to in the exhibition over the decades. Alonso changed that on Monday night, and he further contributed to his ever-growing legend in the process.