The 2023 All-Star festivities have already kicked off, with this past weekend featuring the Futures Game and the start of the MLB Draft. The draft continued today and tonight will feature the Home Run Derby, followed by more drafting and the All-Star game tomorrow. The derby is mostly about entertainment, though there’s also a $1MM prize on the line. That’s chump change to a lot of these players, but not all. The runner-up gets $500K and each other participant gets $150K. The player who hits the longest home run will get an extra $100K. It kicks off at 7pm Central time tonight.
The competition will proceed with head-to-head matchups in a bracket with these eight players, proceeding in order of their seeding: Luis Robert Jr., Pete Alonso, Mookie Betts, Adolis García, Randy Arozarena, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Julio Rodríguez and Adley Rutschman. Defending champion Juan Soto isn’t participating this year, leaving the throne open for the taking. Let’s take a look at the matchups and some of their stats.
- Luis Robert Jr. OF, White Sox: Robert is having his best season in many ways, including in the power department. He came into the year with 36 home runs in 222 games but already has 26 this season in just 89 contests. He’s hitting .271/.330/.569 overall for a wRC+ of 143. He has an average exit velocity of 89 mph, max of 113.6 mph and a 15.9% barrel rate. This is his first time participating in the home run derby.
- Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles: Rutschman debuted last year and hit 13 home runs in 113 games but is already up to 12 this year after just 86 contests. He’s hitting .273/.376/.423 on the season for a wRC+ of 125. He has an average exit velocity of 87.9 mph, max of 111.1 mph and a 6.7% barrel rate. This is his first time participating in the home run derby.
- Adolis García, OF, Rangers: García broke out in 2021 with a 31-homer campaign, added another 27 last year and already has 23 here in 2023. Financially, he’s probably the player with the most to gain from the prize money. He’s yet to reach arbitration and that $1MM total is more than his annual salary. He got a $2.5MM bonus when signing with the Cardinals, but that was way back in 2017. Rutschman is the only other player in the field that is both pre-arb and hasn’t signed an extension, but he got a signing bonus of $8.1MM when signing in 2019. Garcia is hitting .261/.331/.517 this year for a wRC+ of 131. He’s hitting .273/.376/.423 on the whole for a wRC+ of 125. He has an average exit velocity of 92.2 mph, max of 115.1 mph and a 16.4% barrel rate. This is his first time participating in the derby.
- Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays: Arozarena vaulted himself onto the national stage with 10 home runs in the 2020 postseason. He followed that up by hitting 20 in each of the past two seasons and has another 16 here in 2023. He’s hitting .279/.388/.467 on the year for a wRC+ of 147. He has an average exit velocity of 92.9 mph, max of 114.3 mph and a 14.6% barrel rate. This is his first time participating in the derby.
- Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets: Alonso is the most successful derby participant of the group, winning the competition back-to-back in 2019 and 2021. There was no derby in 2020 due to the pandemic. He attempted to win a third consecutive title last year but was defeated by J-Rod in the semis. He has 172 career home runs and is at 26 this year. He’s slashing .211/.310/.497 for a wRC+ of 123. He has an average exit velocity of 89.2 mph, max of 113.7 mph and a 14.8% barrel rate.
- Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners: Rodríguez will be the hometown favorite with the festivities taking place in Seattle this year. As mentioned, he took out Alonso a year ago but fell to Juan Soto in the finals. He hit 28 home runs as a rookie last year and has added 13 more this year. He’s hitting .249/.310/.411 for a wRC+ of 105. He has an average exit velocity of 92.8 mph, max of 115.5 mph and a 9.8% barrel rate.
- Mookie Betts, IF/OF, Dodgers: Betts is 30 years old and this is his seventh time in the All-Star game but this will be his first derby. He has 239 career home runs, including 26 this year. He’s batting .276/.379/.586 overall for a wRC+ of 157. He has an average exit velocity of 92.5 mph, max of 110.1 mph and a 12.8% barrel rate.
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays: Guerrero put on a show in the 2019 contest, hitting 91 home runs overall but falling just short of Alonso in the final round. He has 117 homers in his career and 13 here in 2023. He’s slashing .274/.344/.443 for a wRC+ of 120. He has an average exit velocity of 94.3 mph, max of 116.7 mph and a 13.6% barrel rate.
The winner of Robert/Rutschman will square off against the winner of García/Arozarena in the semis, while the winner of Alonso/Rodríguez will face the winner of Betts/Guerrero. Before we get to who you think will win, let’s start with who you want to win. (Link to poll for app users)
And who do you think will win the 2021 Home Run Derby? (Link to poll for app users)