Home Run Derby 2021: Breaking Down Bracket's Top Participants

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 12, 2021

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani in action against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Saturday, July 10, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

If you dig the long ball—who doesn't?!—Major League Baseball has you covered Monday night.

That's when some of the best power hitters in baseball will lock horns at Denver's Coors Field for the 2021 Home Run Derby.

The loaded eight-player field features reigning champion Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, who had to wait two years to defend his crown, and seven fierce challengers: Joey Gallo of the Texas Ranges, Trey Mancini of the Baltimore Orioles, Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, Matt Olson of the Oakland Athletics, Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals, Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals and Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies.

Any player in this field could win the event without shocking the baseball world, but there are a few who stand above the rest. We'll spotlight our three favorites after laying out the scheduling particulars.



What: 2021 Home Run Derby

Where: Coors Field in Denver

When: 8 p.m. ET



Top Participants

Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP, Los Angeles Angels

If this season's second half mirrors the first, it will forever be remembered as the Ohtani breakout year.

He's either a modern Babe Ruth or the first of his kind. Ohtani's two-way talents are incredible—he was named an All-Star as a hitter and as a pitcher—but let's just zero in on his bat.

He has humongous pop. He not only entered intermission with an MLB-best 33 homers, but he also had five more round-trippers than the next-closest hitters. He also ranked in the 98th percentile or better in barrels, barrel rate and exit velocity, per BaseballSavant.

There's a non-zero chance he delivers this event's hardest hit ball, farthest home run and biggest home run total. He is one of a kind.


Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets

In 2019, Alonso was king of the home run world.

He not only won the derby—besting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 23-22 in the final round—but also captured the regular-season crown with 53 dingers.

His bat hasn't been quite as productive since, as he has 33 homers in 134 games over this season and last. But he belted six over his final 14 games of the first half, meaning momentum is moving his direction. And he doesn't lack for confidence.

"We're going to take it home again," Alonso told reporters. "I had a fun time winning it. I'm going to win it again."


Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers

Somehow, this is Gallo's first derby, and he could make it memorable.

He's the ultimate all-or-nothing bopper in baseball. He struggles with contact (.213 career average). He strikes out a ton (780 in 557 games). But when he puts the bat on the ball, he sends it into orbit.

Despite never playing 150 games in a season, he has a pair of 40-homer campaigns on his resume. This seemingly had no chance to be his third until suddenly it did. He had 11 homers in his first 66 games. He has 13 big flies in the 18 outings since, including an absurd stretch with seven bombs in five games.

Between the power he possesses and the heater he's riding, he's as good a pick as any to take home the trophy.