The field for the 2022 MLB Home Run Derby is taking shape, and the event will have plenty of star power. Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., and St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols all committed to the July 18 event on Monday. Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber joined the field Tuesday with an Instagram announcement, then Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez threw his hat into the ring Wednesday.
The field is currently at six sluggers, as Mets first baseman and two-time reigning Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso announced on Monday afternoon that he was returning to the event once more with an eye on achieving a three-peat. Alonso would be the first player to ever win three Derbies in a row.
Here’s a look at the known field:
2022 MLB Home Run Derby field
- Pete Alonso, Mets
- Juan Soto, Nationals
- Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
- Albert Pujols, Cardinals
- Kyle Schwarber, Phillies
- Julio Rodríguez, Mariners
And here’s a bit to know about each participant:
- The 27-year-old Alonso has 23 home runs in 86 games. Alonso won the Derby in 2019 at Progressive Field in Cleveland and then again last year in 2021 at Coors Field in Denver. No All-Star events were held in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In L.A., Alonso will be trying to join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players win the Home Run Derby three times. No player has even won three in a row. Alonso, Griffey Jr., and Yoenis Céspedes are the only sluggers to win consecutive Derbies.
- Soto has hit .243/.398/.473 (153 OPS+) with 17 home runs in his first 85 games this season. This will be his second Home Run Derby, and he recorded 46 home runs in last year’s event. Soto ended up losing to Alonso in the semifinals.
- Acuña, who met a similar fate in the 2019 event, entered Monday hitting .274/.369/.433 (121 OPS+) with eight home runs in his first 53 games. It’s worth noting that he missed the onset of the season while recovering from a torn ACL that prematurely ended his 2021 campaign right ahead of that year’s All-Star Game.
- Pujols, who was named to the All-Star Game last week by Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, is expected to announce his retirement at season’s end. This, then, is an honorary nod to an inevitable Hall of Fame inductee. Pujols has hit .215/.303/.369 (94 OPS+) with five home runs in 48 contests. This will be his fifth career Derby, as he’s previously taken part in the 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2015 editions.
- As of his announcement, Schwarber was the NL home run leader with 28. He hit 32 in only 113 games last season and 38 in 2019. He has 181 home runs in 749 career games, a 162-game average of 39. This will be Schwarber’s second time in the Derby and perhaps he views it as unfinished business. He was the runner-up to now-teammate Bryce Harper in 2018. He hit 16 in the first round, 21 in the second and 18 in the finals.
- Still only 21, Rodriguez will be the 14th rookie to compete in the Home Run Derby, and he’ll try to become the third to win it outright, joining Aaron Judge (2017) and Alonso (2019) — Wally Joyner was co-champ as a rookie in 1986. Rodríguez recently reached 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases faster than any player in history.
It’s unknown if Miguel Cabrera, the other veteran added to the All-Star Game by Manfred, will receive an invitation to step into the Derby field as well. MLB will need three more contestants either way in order to fill out the bracket. New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton recently hinted that he might partake in this year’s event. Stanton, who has 22 home runs this season, would seem to be an obvious candidate.
This year’s Derby is scheduled to take place on Monday, July 18, or a day before the All-Star Game. It will be hosted at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.