The Home Run Derby is back, and the stage is set for a hard-hitting, high-flying, mile-high event.We now know the full field of eight competitors for baseball’s big fly bonanza, which will take place tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN at Denver’s Coors Field, ahead of Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Looking to see some baseballs put into orbit? Tune into ESPN to watch the action at Coors Field. If you’re interested in the numbers behind each long ball, follow the event on ESPN2, where the Statcast broadcast will be carried. Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez will be in the booth for the coverage on ESPN with Buster Olney and Marly Rivera reporting on the broadcast, while Jason Benetti, Jessica Mendoza and Mike Petriello will call the Statcast edition.
2021 Home Run Derby participants
The 2021 field looks set to deliver a thrilling show on Monday. There’s two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, reigning derby champ Pete Alonso, hometown hero Trevor Story and young star Juan Soto all set to take their swings in Coors Field. And that’s just a start. Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo might have the most raw power of any player in the majors, Royals catcher Salvador Perez could become the first catcher to win the derby, Athletics first baseman Matt Olson has been one of the best power hitters in the past four years and Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini is having a remarkable comeback season after beating cancer.
Here’s how the first round of brackets will shape up in the first round of the Home Run Derby.
Past Home Run Derby champions
Only one player has won the derby three times, and that would be Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., who won the second of his three crowns in Coors Field back in 1998. He went on to win the next year at Fenway Park for his second straight title — the first of two players to win in back-to-back years. Yoenis Cespedes was the second batter to win in back-to-back years, when he won in 2013 and 2014. If Alonso wins this year, he’d be the third player to win in two straight derbies.
Looking ahead to the competition, Ohtani’s swing stats also bode well for him being able to make a deep run in the derby.Ohtani leads all players with a barrel rate of 15.3 percent per plate appearance. His average home run distance of 415 feet ranks 14th in MLB. Story (average distance of 419 feet) and Gallo (416) are the only challengers in the field ranked higher than Ohtani in that category.
Alonso, who is the defending Home Run Derby champion after winning it in 2019, isn’t hitting at the same level he did when he won this event. The Mets first baseman is having a solid season with 15 homers and a .474 slugging percentage.
Putting Alonso in the thin air of Coors Field could certainly play to his strengths as a power hitter. The same could also be said of Soto, whose overall power numbers have been a disappointment to this point (10 homers, .438 slugging percentage).
Mancini is certainly going to be the sentimental favorite. The Orioles star has had a successful comeback season after sitting out 2020 when he announced he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.
Since being declared cancer-free in November, Mancini has hit 15 homers with a .450 slugging percentage. Olson and Perez are reliably consistent power hitters. Olson is on pace to slug over .500 for the third time since 2017. Perez already has 20 homers and a .509 slugging percentage so far in the first half for the Royals.