Nationals’ Juan Soto crowned winner of 2022 Home Run Derby

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Nationals’ Juan Soto crowned winner of 2022 Home Run Derby originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The biggest bat of the night belongs to Juan Soto.

The Washington Nationals outfielder filled Dodger Stadium with home runs throughout Monday night as he beat Seattle Mariners rookie outfielder Julio Rodríguez to win the 2022 Home Run Derby:

In the final round, which is shortened to a two-minute opening round instead of the usual three, Rodríguez launched 14 homers and added four in his bonus round to make it 18. After a slow start, Soto popped off towards the end of his round to hit 15, and eventually eclipsed Rodríguez’s output during his bonus time to win. 

Rodríguez, 21, had broken out in the first two rounds after tallying 32 homers in the quarters and 30 in the semis, which marked the first time a hitter had two 30-score rounds in the same Derby. Unfortunately, his score in the final round wasn’t enough to top the 23-year-old Soto, who has recently become a hot trade target in the league after turning down a massive extension with the Nationals. 

Here’s a matchup-by-matchup recap of how the Derby went down in the quarterfinals and semifinals prior to the riveting final between Soto and Rodríguez:

Quarterfinals

Starting the eight-man field was No. 3 seed Corey Seager against No. 6 Julio Rodríguez. The 21-year-old launched 25 homers after three minutes but added seven during his one-minute bonus time, finishing with 32. Seager, back in Los Angeles, had 20 in three minutes but fatigue kicked in during his bonus minute as he finished with 24. 

Next up was No. 2 Pete Alonso against No. 7 Ronald Acuña Jr. Acuña hit 18 during his opening round, giving him an extra 30 seconds as a bonus. However, he mustered only one to finish with 19. Alonso opened with 17 and reached the 20 mark during his 30-second bonus time to eliminate the Atlanta Brave star. 

The third matchup was No. 4 Juan Soto against No. 5 José Ramírez. Ramírez opened with 15 and added two in his 30-second bonus for 17. Soto bombed 18 in his opening round, surpassing the need for any added time. 

No. 1 Kyle Schwarber and No. 8 Albert Pujols rounded out the quarterfinals. Pujols hit only 13 long balls (10 in his opening round), but it was still a great moment for the baseball legend. Schwarber, however, also hit 13, so both batters went to a tiebreaker round where they each had one minute to add to their scores. Pujols reached 20 to top Schwarber’s 19 in a huge upset.

Semifinals

Rodríguez and Alonso started the semis, with the former continuing his stellar form from the quarterfinals. Rodríguez hit 23 and added eight to give him 31. Alonso launched 18 in three minutes but fell short of a three-peat with a score of 23 after his bonus time. 

Pujols hit 15 (12 in the first three minutes) to start against Soto, but the 23-year-old reached 16 (13 in the first three minutes) during his bonus round to eliminate the future Hall of Famer.

Soto will take home a prize of $1 million for winning the competition.