Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
The 2023 Home Run Derby continues with MLB’s All-Star festivities Monday night and two-time champion Pete Alonso and the rest of the eight-man field hope to captivate the baseball world by launching home runs. in the atmosphere of Seattle.
Before the fan-favorite event, fans and analysts had a lot to say about Polar Bear Pete and the underdogs hoping to topple this year’s favorite.
Pete Alonso Shouldn’t Be Here
The idea of ”New York Mets” and “World Series” belonging in the same sentence in the middle of this 2023 season is laughable, at best, but All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso is ready to perform on his own stage stage. Monday night.
Flippp @Cantguard flip
Happy Home Run Derby day aka Pete Alonso’s World Series pic.twitter.com/6Sl2JTw1Tk
Thomas Carrieri @Thomas_Carrieri
Pete Alonso is in full uniform getting ready for tonight’s Home Run Derby.pic.twitter.com/yLWbbCCX9A
Although Alonso has a chance to etch his name in the history books alongside Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. youth coach promise Mike Freidlien by throwing for him, the fact that the Mets are six games below .500 and Alonso is not playing up to expectations means that his appearance in the derby is the disappointment of his club’s fans.
Well, the #Mets lost 6-2 to the Padres today, but there’s good news: now .211 hitting Pete Alonso can concentrate full time on the meaningless HR Derby he seems to love participating in. Now is the focus! THAT is the #AllStar production! #LGM #AllStarGame #HomeRunDerby a> pic.twitter.com/ZPSZtUvROe
So frustrated were the Mets and their stars that one fan suggested that Alonso turn to a teammate to be his pitcher because he might be able to hit better with him, like everyone else, as opposed to Freidlien.
Alonso has been disappointing offensively this season. Sure, he’s tied for third in the majors with 26 home runs, but he’s struck out 74 times while tallying just 64 hits in 304 at-bats. Through 82 games, his slugging percentage is just .497, the lowest of his big league career barring the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
He hit dingers or less, drawing unfavorable comparisons to former Met Dave Kingman.
That Alonso missed 11 days after being hit on the wrist by a 96 mph fastball from Charlie Morton of the Atlanta Braves, hasn’t looked the same since returning quickly from injury and could certainly use some added, no one noticed.
That’s probably a bit of hyperbole on the part of ol’ Frank The Tank, if only because the idea of Alonso hitting less than 10 home runs in the entire second half of the season doesn’t make sense. y many damages.
While the frustration on the part of Mets fans is valid and there is reason to believe that Polar Bear Pete would be better served to take the rest and focus on improving himself and the team in the second half of the 2023 season, he’s a bona fide Derby star and a guy MLB can sell the whole event around.
Especially given his success in two of his last three performances and his pursuit of history.
Rutschman and Betts: The Underdogs
ESPN’s Buster Olney laughs at producers Taylor Schwink and Sara Abbott on the July 7 edition of Baseball Tonight podcast for picking Adley Rutschman and Mookie Betts, respectively, to win the Derby.
It’s not hard to understand why. They have the highest odds of winning the event and even Betts, himself, thinks so.
“Let’s be real, I’m not a power guy. Do I have some home runs? Sure,” he said in a piece for ESPN by Alden Gonzalez. He cited his height as part of the reason for doubting his ability to win the fan-favorite extravaganza.
He is not the only one.
Dave Rogers @PicksFromDave
⚾️Home Run Derby Pick⚾️
No video, but here’s the deal with all the Mookie Betts love. I went back 15 years and looked at 1st and 2nd place. Thirty guys, one guy under 6 ft, and he’s 5’11. Short guys don’t win the Derby.
Entering the Derby, however, Betts was tied with the favored Alonso for third in the MLB with 26 home runs, including two in a July 7 game against the Angels.
Talkin’ Baseball @TalkinBaseball_
Mookie Betts had two homers tonight. Start the derby NOW pic.twitter.com/EbqJpnCGO6
Rutschman entered the event with the lowest number of home runs of all eight competitors (12) and was among questions about why he was in the Derby.
Zach Bollinger @zachbollinger18
Adley Rutschman after seeing that he has the worst odds to win the Homerun Derby pic.twitter.com/FYuqdoIeY8
All he did on Sunday, more than 24 hours before the start of the contest, was launch the longest home run of his young career against the Minnesota Twins, a 461-foot bomb, which the great Sarah Langs is very eager to point out.
Sarah Langs @SnakesOnSports
Longest home run of his career!
Derby tomorrow… He’s ready!! https://t.co/DuLWknuL5V
Betts and Rutschman may not be favorites to win, especially with long-ball hitters Alonso, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Adolis Garcia and Luis Robert Jr. but Betts is hitting home runs at a clip that should make him a dark horse candidate to win the thing while Rutschman proved Sunday that he has no intention of laying down and rolling for the big boys in competition.