Home Run Derby 2022: Top Storylines to Track for Every Participant

Joe TanseyJuly 17, 2022

Home Run Derby 2022: Top Storylines to Track for Every Participant

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    David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Pete Alonso will try to become the first-ever three-peat winner of the Home Run Derby on Monday night inside Dodger Stadium.

    Alonso captured the 2019 title in Cleveland and followed that up with a win in 2021 in Colorado. The 2020 event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The New York Mets slugger comes into Monday as the No. 2 seed in the eight-man bracket. Kyle Schwarber is the No. 1 seed because he has the most home runs of any participant with 29.

    Schwarber and Alonso may be viewed as the favorites, but there are countless other storylines across the rest of the field.

    Albert Pujols is going for one more shot at glory, Corey Seager will be hitting in front of his former home crowd and Julio Rodriguez is looking to make a statement in his first derby.

    Juan Soto, Jose Ramirez and Ronald Acuna Jr. are the other Derby participants.

    The eight players were drawn into a bracket based on season home run totals. The semifinals will be made up of quarterfinal winners on the same side of the bracket.

Kyle Schwarber vs. Albert Pujols

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    Kyle Schwarber comes into the Home Run Derby as the best home run hitter who is taking part in the event.

    Schwarber mashed 29 home runs in 89 games entering Sunday's games. He is second to Aaron Judge on the MLB leaderboard.

    The Philadelphia Phillies slugger has the motivation to back up his standing as the No. 1 overall seed. That designation has been a curse for players in the bracketed format dating back to 2015.

    The top seeds in every derby since 2015 have not advanced to the final. Shohei Ohtani, Matt Chapman, Jesus Aguilar and Giancarlo Stanton all lost in the first round as No. 1 seeds. Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols won their first-round matchups but then lost in the semifinals as top seeds.

    Schwarber will attempt to end the No. 1 seed curse against the sentimental favorite in the field in Pujols.

    Pujols is back for one final Derby before he retires at the end of the season. The St. Louis Cardinals slugger only has six home runs this season.

    Pujols needs to use his experience from past Home Run Derby events to channel a potential upset.

    However, there should be concerns about a 42-year-old with six home runs keeping up with a 29-dinger hitter in an event that requires power and stamina.

    Pujols might pull off one upset over Schwarber, but it seems unlikely that he will have the overall power to make a surprising run to the final.

Juan Soto vs. Jose Ramirez

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    The buzz around Juan Soto at the All-Star Game will be much larger than we expected.

    Soto reportedly declined a $440 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

    Most of the questions asked of Soto in Los Angeles will be about his potential future destination. The Washington Nationals could deal him before the August 2 trade deadline.

    The looming trade talk around Soto could be a distraction all weekend, and it may affect his performance in the Home Run Derby.

    Soto could also ignore all the talk and just have fun in Monday night's event, but the broadcast will likely not let us forget about what is future may hold.

    Jose Ramirez quietly comes into the Home Run Derby as a potential winner who no one is talking about.

    The Cleveland Guardians third baseman is one of the most menacing power hitters in the game. He has 19 home runs this season, and he unleashed two home runs in Saturday's win over the Detroit Tigers.

    Ramirez only has three home runs in July entering Sunday, so he will likely not be a strong pick to win the Derby.

    Ramirez could be a sneaky pick to win it all, and the first-round matchup with Soto could play in his favor if the Nationals slugger struggles to deal with all the extra attention around him.

Corey Seager vs. Julio Rodriguez

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    Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

    The Home Run Derby winner could be one of the two American League West sluggers in the No. 3-versus-No. 6 matchup.

    Corey Seager is the only hitter in the Derby field with three or more home runs in the last seven days.

    Seager has seven home runs and 16 RBI in July. He went on a five-day homer streak from July 8-12 inside his home ball park in Texas.

    The No. 3 seed will carry some extra motivation Monday since he will be hitting in front of his former home crowd at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers traded for Trea Turner at the trade deadline last year in preparation for Seager's free-agent exit.

    Seager's familiarity with the intricacies of Dodger Stadium may give him an edge when it comes to which areas of the park to target in his Derby rounds.

    Julio Rodriguez gave Seager a front-and-center look at what he is up against in the first round during Seattle and Texas' AL West series this weekend.

    Rodriguez mashed a grand slam on Friday night inside Globe Life Field. He has 16 long balls in his rookie season with the Seattle Mariners.

    The Seattle outfielder should come into Dodger Stadium with nothing to lose as the youngest player in the field and one that will likely feature in the event in years to come.

    Rodriguez's looseness at the plate may allow for him to go off and hit a ton of long balls, but he will face a lot of competition from Seager in what could be the tightest first-round matchup.

Pete Alonso vs. Ronald Acuna

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    Brett Davis/Getty Images

    All of the pressure will be on Pete Alonso in his first-round matchup with Ronald Acuna Jr.

    The two-time defending Home Run Derby champion beat Acuna on the way to his first Derby win in 2019. Alonso won the second-round matchup by one homer in Cleveland.

    Alonso has taken down Juan Soto, Trey Mancini, Salvador Perez, Carlos Santana, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Acuna in head-to-head matchups during his Derby reign.

    The New York Mets slugger has seen all different types of power hitters in head-to-head battles, but it will all come down to how he performs and the rhythm he finds at the plate in Los Angeles.

    Alonso should have the first-round advantage since Acuna is struggling a bit at the dish, and his experience in dealing with the pace and stamina of the competition could be vital in the latter rounds.

    Acuna has the potential to blast a ton of home runs into the Dodger Stadium bleachers, but he needs his power surge to return to do so.

    Acuna has a single home run in July. He could be due for a strong second half after a day or two off, but his recent numbers suggest he will not challenge Alonso much in the first round.

    If Acuna beats Alonso, it will be one of the bigger head-to-head upsets in the bracket format's history, and it may set up the Seager-Rodriguez winner to surge into the final.

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