Joc Pederson had a strong showing in the 2019 Home Run Derby but the Los Angeles Dodgers remained without a champion as he fell short against Toronto Blue Jays rookie Vladimir Jr. in swing-off during the semifinals.
Pederson this time was seeded fifth in a first-round matchup with No. 4 Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros, who also was a final participant named to the event.
Pederson was first to hit, and while he got off to a bit of a sluggish start, found a rhythm and clubbed 17 homers in his timed period. He earned 30 seconds of bonus time and proceeded to club four more.
Bregman didn’t have any of his homers travel 440 feet, thus failed to earn bonus time, and only finished with 16, putting Pederson in the second round.
After hitting 29 in the first round, setting a Derby record, Guerrero followed it up with another 29 in the semifinals. Pederson put forth a valiant effort, tying Guerrero during the bonus time he earned.
That set up a one-minute swing-off, which resulted in yet another tie. Each batter then had three swings to hit their homers, and they were again locked in a tie after both only clubbed one homer during that stretch.
Another round of three swings went in favor of Guerrero, who hit two to Pederson’s one. Had Pederson advanced, he was due to face the winner between New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso and Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr.
Players had four minutes in each round to hit their home runs and received 30 additional seconds in a round if they club at least two homers that traveled more than 440 feet. The Home Run Derby winner will receive $1 million.
For Pederson, it marked a second time taking swings in the Derby. He did so as a rookie All-Star in 2015, losing to then-Cincinnati Reds third baseman and hometown favorite Todd Frazier in the final round at Great American Ball Park.
Pederson hoped to have former Dodgers coach Johnny Washington pitch to him, like he did in the 2015 Derby, but the San Diego Padres decline to allow their hitting coach to do so. Pederson held auditions with Dodgers third base coach Dino Ebel and special assistant Jose Vizcaino before tapping the former as his pitcher.
Ebel previously pitched to Albert Pujols (2015) and Vladimir Guerrero (champion in 2007) in the Home Run Derby.
Pederson joined Mike Piazza (1993 and 1994) and Matt Kemp (2011 and 2012) as Dodgers who have twice participated in the Home Run Derby. Raul Mondesi (1995), Hee-Seop Choi (2005), Yasiel Puig (2014), Corey Seager (2016), Cody Bellinger (2017) and Max Muncy (2018) round out the franchise’s all-time participants.
While a Dodgers player has yet to win a Home Run Derby, that may very well change next season. Although Bellinger declined to participate this year, he left open the possibility of doing so when the Dodgers host the 2020 All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.