The biggest event of MLB’s All-Star week, outside of the All-Star Game itself of course, is the Home Run Derby, a power hitter’s masterclass in which MLB’s top sluggers try to hit the most home runs in an allotted amount of time.
Pete Alonso is the two-time defending champion, and his status is in his question. He said he would participate if he was voted the NL starter in Los Angeles, but the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt ultimately beat him in the second round. The allure of a potential three-peat, however, was too much for Alonso to resist. MLB announced he will be in the Derby Monday.
Plenty of major names in MLB history have participated in and won the Derby, including Ken Griffey Jr. and his famous backwards hat, in addition to Sammy Sosa, Vladimir Guerrero Sr., David Ortiz and, more recently, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, is out this year as he recovers from his thumb injury.
Here’s the latest on who is in and who is out of this year’s Home Run Derby on July 18 at Dodger Stadium, along with rumors that may concern their participation.
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Home Run Derby 2022 participants updates & rumors
Mariners’ rookie All-Star Julio Rodriguez has been confirmed for the Home Run Derby, per Jeff Passan. He marks the sixth of an eight-person field.
Confirmed for the Home Run Derby …
Ronald Acuña Jr.
And the newest entrant: Seattle rookie star Julio Rodriguez.
Two slots left. And five days to go until it’s live Monday from Dodger Stadium at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 13, 2022
Joc Pederson said he was approached to do the Home Run Derby this year, but had to decline as he continues to rest. Three spots remain open, with Pete Alonso, Ronald Acuña Jr., Kyle Schwarber, Juan Soto, and Albert Pujols in the fold.
Joc Pederson said MLB contacted him about doing Home Run Derby again but he passed because he’s been dealing with some neck/back issues and is trying to get some rest over break. “You can’t move for about a good 24-48 hours,” he said of the Derby.
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 13, 2022
Kyle Schwarber announced on Instagram Tuesday he will officially be participating in the Home Run Derby this year. This will be Schwarber’s first appearance since 2018, when he finished as a runner-up to now-teammate Bryce Harper, who was representing the Nationals at the time.
Byron Buxton has declined to appear in the Home Run Derby, according to 5 Eyewitness News’ Darren Wolfson. Buxton has launched 23 home runs this season.
No. He was asked, declined.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) July 10, 2022
Juan Soto will make his second consecutive in the Home Run Derby, according to Talkin’ Baseball. Soto knocked out Shohei Ohtani during the 2021 first round, but lost to Alonso in the semifinal.
Juan Soto will participate in the Home Run Derby again! pic.twitter.com/E5xjLSWQcg
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 12, 2022
Albert Pujols, the active leader in home runs with 684, will participate in the Home Run Derby. Pujols has previously hit in the Home Run Derby in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2015. He was named, alongside Miguel Cabrera, as a special addition to the All-Star Game by commissioner Rob Manfred in his final season in MLB.
Albert Pujols on being selected to participate in the Home Run Derby: “It’s pretty awesome and I’m pretty blessed to be able to do it. … Hopefully I can put on a good show for the fans.”#STLCards pic.twitter.com/XcDrrbJJDz
— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) July 12, 2022
Ronald Acuna Jr. announced on his Instagram story that he will be participating in the Home Run Derby. He participated in the 2019 Home Run Derby and reached the semifinal round, where he lost to Alonso 20 home runs to 19.
.@ronaldacunajr24 will participate in the Home Run Derby 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jbASeRhB9N
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) July 11, 2022
Pete Alonso is officially in the Home Run Derby, MLB announced Monday in a tweet. He will try to defend his back-to-back titles.
Pete Alonso is back in the Home Run Derby!
Will we see a Three-Pete? pic.twitter.com/YNbKPzeVlE
— MLB (@MLB) July 11, 2022
Yordan Alvarez hadn’t made a decision about the Home Run Derby as recently as July 6, but he was forced to the IL with a hand injury suffered in a collision with his teammate Jeremy Peña. The designation will keep him out of the All-Star Game, and the Home Run Derby as well.
Bryce Harper, of course, injured his thumb earlier this season. The Phillies are hoping to get him back by the postseason, but he will not be involved in All-Star week festivities.
NL home run leader Kyle Schwarber is considering doing the Home Run Derby, but he does have a condition.
“I don’t think I’d do it if I wasn’t there,” he said to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “If I was there, I would consider it. It was fun, but taxing. I’d be up in the air about it.”
2018 has all sorts of fun ties for the Phillies. It’s the last time a Philly competed in the Home Run Derby, but it wasn’t the runner-up Schwarber or the winner Bryce Harper — it was Rhys Hoskins, whom Schwarber knocked out in the second round.
Schwarber hasn’t competed since, but he did get an All-Star nod this year, so it appears we can expect him to compete.
Giancarlo Stanton was less finite than Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in discussing his participation at the derby this year. Stanton seems to be interested in participating, although nothing is set in stone yet.
Giancarlo Stanton on this year’s Home Run Derby: “Nothing’s official, but I definitely could be there.”
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) July 9, 2022
Stanton had a legendary performance in his 2016 Home Run Derby victory when he was representing the Marlins, hitting a ridiculous 61 home runs. He hasn’t competed since 2017, in which he was a first-round exit.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. turned in one of the most memorable runner-up Derby performances of all time in 2019, a night in which he hit 91 home runs in an epic duel with eventual winner Alonso. Guerrero, however, reportedly won’t be making a return this year. According to Shi Davidi at SportsNet, Guerrero turned down an invite as he nurses a wrist injury he doesn’t want to see flare up.
“My wrist is fine right now but I’ve got to be careful — there are too many swings in a home run derby,” Guerrero said after a June 27 game against the Red Sox. “I don’t want to take a chance that my wrist gets hurt again and it gets bad and I won’t be able to help the team win, which is what we’re trying to do here. I don’t want to risk it.”
MLB home run leader and 2017 winner Aaron Judge will not be participating in the Home Run Derby this year, saying he’s fine with doing it once.
“Nope. No need,” Judge told The New York Post. “I already did it once. I’m all good with that.”