The MLB All-Star break is next week in Los Angeles, California at Dodger Stadium. To kick off the festivities is the exhilarating Home Run Derby on Monday, July 18. The field of eight has officially been compiled. Let’s take a look at all of the first-round matchups.
One Seed vs. Eight Seed
(1) Kyle Schwarber – Philadelphia Phillies
This year’s derby consists of a majority of returning competitors including Kyle Schwarber.
Since bursting onto the scene with the Chicago Cubs in 2015 Schwarber has become one of the premier power hitters in baseball. He did not get a full season in the majors until 2017 with the Cubs where he took full advantage by hitting 30 homers.
With another solid season in 2018, he accepted the invitation to his first home run derby. He put his power on display as he smashed his way to the championship round. Unfortunately for him, he was taken down by his current teammate Bryce Harper.
After bashing 38 and 32 homers in 2019 and 2021 respectively he has gone off for 28 in the first half of 2022, well on his way to his fourth 30 homer season. His 28 homers put him at the top in the National League and only two behind the major league lead.
(8) Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
One of the greatest home run hitters in baseball history is ready to compete in his fifth derby. Somehow though, he is still searching for his first title.
Pujols is also the oldest contestant to ever take on the derby. At age 42, he passes Barry Bonds who was 39 when he took part in 2004.
With 685 career homers, Pujols stands strong with the fifth most homers in baseball history and is only 15 away from passing Alex Rodriguez for sole possession of fourth place.
In his final season, Pujols has only hit six homers in 143 at-bats with the Cardinals, but he is more than ready to show off his immense power.
Two Seed vs. Seven Seed
(2) Pete Alonso – New York Mets
The two-time reigning champion is back for a third straight derby. Alonso won the title in his rookie season in 2019 and then repeated in 2021 with ease.
He is absolutely tearing apart the rest of baseball in 2022. He has a .268 batting average, 24 homers and 74 RBI. In MLB ranks, he is 5th in homers but stands alone at the very top in RBIs.
Alonso is more than ready to bring home his third straight title, but there are seven other big hitters looking to dethrone him.
(7) Ronald Acuna Jr. – Atlanta Braves
Continuing the trend of repeat appearances is Ronald Acuna Jr. who also participated in 2019. This will be a revenge tour for Acuna Jr. who lost in the second round of the 2019 tournament to the eventual winner, Alonso.
Acuna Jr. has quickly become one of the biggest names in all of baseball. He set the bar very high for all of the young superstars in 2019 with his 41 homers which were tied for seventh most in all of baseball.
2022 is his first full season since 2019 as 2020 was a shortened season and he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in July 2021. He is not yet back to his old self yet with only eight homers in 56 games, but he is still going to put on a show and try to take down his National League East rival.
Three Seed vs. Six Seed
(3) Corey Seager – Texas Rangers
Normally the derby contains a contestant who plays for the team where the All-Star game takes place. That is not the case this season, but Corey Seager is the closest player in that category.
Seager spent the first seven years of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a Rookie of the Year in 2016 and a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger in 2016 and 2017. In 2022 he signed a massive contract with the Texas Rangers.
Segar has never topped the charts with his power. His 26 homers in 2016 still stand as his career high and followed that up with 22 in 2017. Since then he had not reached 20 until this season. His career has been riddled with injuries as he has only had three seasons where he has played 100 or more games.
In his first season with the Rangers, he is finally healthy and back to clobbering baseballs. Through 84 games he has hit 21 homers and looks to be poised to set a career-high in that department. He aims to add to his success this season by hitting a ton of homers in the stadium he knows the best.
(6) Julio Rodriguez – Seattle Mariners
Going up against a highly experienced Seagar is one of the top American League Rookie of the Year candidates Julio Rodriguez.
The Seattle Mariners have done a great job producing young talent over the past several years. Rodriguez is the epitome of the strength of the Mariners’ farm system. In 237 minor league games, he smacked 30 homers and that has translated to success at the major league level.
In his rookie season, he has made some serious noise with 15 homers and 44 RBIs in 87 games.
He does not have much experience in the big leagues but he is spewing with confidence and ready to take on the best in baseball for the home run derby title.
Four Seed vs. Five Seed
(4) Juan Soto – Washington Nationals
Joining Alonso as a repeat contestant is Juan Soto. Much like his superstar counterpart Acuna Jr., he was knocked out of last year’s derby in the second round by Alonso.
In his first two full seasons in the majors, he made his name known quickly with his 56 combined homers and 180 combined RBIs. Not to mention his assistance in the Nationals World Series title in 2019.
2021 was another strong season where he put up 29 homers for the second-highest total of his young career. He came in second place in NL MVP voting for his third straight season with a top 10 finish.
He is once again playing great baseball in 2022 with 19 homers and 41 RBIs in 87 games. Soto is regarded as one of the best players in baseball right now and looks to add to his resume with a home run derby title.
(5) Jose Ramierez – Cleveland Guardians
Rounding out the Home Run Derby is slugger Jose Ramirez who stands being Pujols as the second oldest player in this season’s derby.
Ramirez has been with Cleveland since 2013, but it took until 2017 for him to show his power. Through his first 1,129 at bats between 2013 and 2016 he only posted 19 homers. In 2017 he had a breakout year with 29 homers and then followed that up with 39 in 2018.
Following a couple of decent seasons in 2019 and 2020, he put up 36 homers and 103 RBIs in 2021 which came up just short of his numbers in 2018.
He is playing great baseball in 2022 as he leads the American League with 30 doubles and 68 RBIs but has only smashed 17 homers so far. He has plenty of power and will certainly put on a show in his first derby appearance.
The 2022 MLB Home Run Derby will feature a majority of returning contestants with a few fresh faces. This is sure to go down as another highly entertaining display of power that MLB fans are used to seeing. Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is set for the biggest power hitters in baseball to take the stage on Monday, July 18.
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