It’s 2023 MLB All-Star Home Run Derby day in Seattle!
Some of the biggest names in baseball will be taking aim at the T-Mobile Park bleachers on Monday (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) in one of the most anticipated events of the summer.
While a back-to-back champion is out of the picture — 2022 winner Juan Soto is not a part of this year’s field — Pete Alonso will try to become the second player to win the event three times, joining the elite company of Ken Griffey Jr. Will Alonso get in the way of Julio Rodriguez‘s hometown coronation in the Emerald City? Or will one of the other six participants take the title?
We have your one-stop shop for everything Derby related, from predictions to live updates once we get underway to analysis and takeaways.
MLB All-Star Home Run Derby bracket
Live Home Run Derby updates and analysis
Who is going to win the Derby and who will be the runner-up?
Gonzalez: If you saw Arozarena in this year’s World Baseball Classic — or, of course, in the 2020 postseason — then you know he is made for a moment like this. Arozarena was pushing to take part in this event before he was even voted an All-Star. He spent the Tampa Bay Rays‘ recent series in Seattle getting a feel for T-Mobile Park, and he then took part in a handful of timed practice rounds in the ensuing week to ensure he was ready. He wants this. And he’s going to get it — by outlasting Alonso in the final round.
Passan: Predictions are folly — I might well change mine leading into the broadcast based on how the participants are feeling in batting practice — but the best story would be a Rodriguez-Rutschman final. The hometown favorite vs. the Pacific Northwest-born-and-raised kid; two stars, neither older than 25, illustrating how special the next generation of baseball really is. And Rodriguez would not only vanquish the favored Alonso for the second consecutive year but finish the job after losing in the finals to Soto in 2022. Only Ryne Sandberg (1990), Todd Frazier (2015) and Bryce Harper (2018) have won a Derby at home. Rodriguez should make it a quartet.
Olney: Alonso takes this event more seriously than anyone in recent memory — maybe ever. He said as a rookie he dreamed about participating in the Derby as a kid and that so long as he was asked, he would always participate. A lot of the sluggers in the Derby field will fight exhaustion and work to slow down their heart rates; but this is Alonso’s fourth go-round, and he knows how to handle the moment, what to do between rounds and all of the little necessary tweaks and adjustments to make. Picking against Alonso in the Derby would be like picking against a Bill Belichick-coached team in the Super Bowl. Experience matters. And Alonso will win.
Rogers: Even though he is the No.1 seed, Robert is going to pull off the upset. (Las Vegas has Alonso as the favorite.) Robert has an effortless home run swing, a trait that can come in handy for the grueling Derby. He also won’t waste any pitches (or time) with the occasional foul ball or popup — or at least he won’t waste as many as others. Outside of Shohei Ohtani, Robert has been as locked in as anyone in the game. He will beat Alonso for the title.
Who will hit the longest home run of the night and how far?
Gonzalez: Rodriguez has the second-longest home run among the Derby participants this year, at 454 feet (Rutschman hit a mammoth 461-foot blast Sunday), and he obviously knows this ballpark better than anybody. I think he has something special in him and will unleash not just the longest home run of the night but the two longest — at 490 and 488 feet — all in his highly anticipated, first-round matchup against Alonso.
Passan: In terms of raw power, this is a two-man show: Alonso vs. Guerrero. And with his home run stroke returning in recent weeks, Guerrero is the pick, and 492 feet is the distance.
Olney: Among the Derby participants, Guerrero has the lowest average trajectory on his home runs this season, yet he has the longest average distance. It’s like he is bringing a 2-iron to the plate. He’ll go 485 feet.
Rogers: Let’s not overthink this. The Polar Bear has been there and done that — hitting monster home runs in past derbies, including multiple over 500 feet. Alonso will again hit at least one that far, so let’s go with a 507-foot homer for the evening’s longest.
Who is the one slugger fans will know much better after Monday’s derby?
Gonzalez: The baseball world still seemingly doesn’t know enough about Garcia, a major speed and power threat on a Texas Rangers team that has proved to be one of the best in the sport. And while most viewers will be anticipating the first-round matchup between Alonso and Rodriguez, the initial pairing of Garcia and Arozarena — two longtime friends dating back to their time in Cuba and through the St. Louis Cardinals‘ system, before finding success elsewhere — will be special.
Passan: Betts, for the record, is not anyone’s idea of a slugger. He stands 5-foot-9 and weighs 170 pounds; Garcia’s biceps are about as wide as Betts’ torso. And yet Betts’ 26 home runs this season are tied with those of Robert and Alonso for tops among Derby participants. Betts is probably the best known of the participants, so people won’t necessarily leave the Derby knowing of him. They’ll just know he has a lot more power than his reputation would suggest.
Olney: The winner of the Garcia-Arozarena first-round matchup. That showdown will have some juice and fun, and the winner will enjoy it — maybe even striking the arms-crossed pose Arozarena has made famous, whether he or Garcia wins.
Rogers: It has to be Robert. Though he has been ranked near the top of the league in home runs all season, he didn’t crack the top 10 in All-Star voting. In fact, no Chicago White Sox player showed up anywhere near the leaderboards for the Midsummer Classic. And as compared to the others in the Derby, it’s not even close who is the least known. Arozarena? Please. He is known worldwide considering his postseason and WBC success. Betts is a former MVP and is Mookie Betts. You get the picture. Many people might not know Garcia well, but he has the most long balls on the second-best team in the American League. Plus, I have Garcia going out in the first round.
What’s the one moment we’ll all be talking about long after this Derby ends?
Gonzalez: Remember Guerrero’s epic semifinal matchup against Joc Pederson in 2019 that ended in a swing-off and saw Guerrero amass 40 home runs, a record for a single round? I think we’re poised to get something like that again, this time in Guerrero’s semifinal matchup against Alonso, who is looking to join Ken Griffey Jr. as a three-time Derby winner. Guerrero announced he would take part in the Derby while wearing a T-shirt that read “Mr. 91,” a nod to the record-setting total he finished with in 2019. He is ready.
Passan: Garcia vs. Arozarena in a battle of friends. Alonso seeking revenge against J-Rod. The first-round matchups are pretty delectable. And someone, like Alden said, is bound to pop off and have a bananas round. But as a baseball nerd, I’m hoping that Rutschman — the No. 8 seed — takes swings from both sides of the plate. The format aligns well for it to happen. Start from his stronger side, the left, and hit until he needs a timeout. Then switch to the right and finish there.
Olney: Given that I’ve chosen Alonso — over J-Rod in the first round and others to follow — I’ll play that out and say that his celebration will be epic, as it has been in the past. The Polar Bear will be bouncing with joy, and there will be a pronouncement that he is the Muhammad Ali of this event. Alonso is not shy.
Rogers: How can it not involve Arozarena? The man has a flair for the dramatic and seems to take center stage in any big moment he is a part of. Let’s start with him getting to the finals. That will give him plenty of chances to create that memorable instance. Perhaps it’s a last-second homer to win a round. Or maybe during a break while hitting, he’ll run to the stands for a selfie with a fan. One way or another, he’s going to find that opening to cross his arms in his iconic pose, just as he did during the WBC this year or even while rounding the bases after hitting his first home run of the season. That’s right: He stopped near third base, folded his arms across his chest, then continued his jog home.