Joc Pederson has twice nearly become the first Los Angeles Dodgers player to win the Home Run Derby, and though he’s fallen short each time, both of his appearances in the annual event have produced fireworks.
In 2015, Pederson came up just short against then-Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, who had support from the hometown fans at Great American Ball Park. Frazier needed bonus time to defeat Pederson in the final round.
Back in the event at Progressive Field, Pederson went toe-to-toe with Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who became the youngest to ever participate in a Home Run Derby at 20 years old.
Their awe-inspiring battle electrified the crowd and led to Pederson making MLB history. His combined 99 home runs between two appearances are an all-time Home Run Derby record.
Pederson slugged 21 homers to edge the Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman, who had 18 in their first-round matchup. Pederson then matched the 29 Guerrero put up, tying him with a few seconds to spare. A final swing did not produce a 30th home run, triggering a wild swing-off process.
Each batter was given one minute to take their swings; Guerrero had eight home runs, which Pederson matched. Then came a round of each slugger taking three swings. Guerrero hit a home run with his first one, only for Pederson to again tie him.
Three more swings for both players followed, with Guerrero that time outlasting Pederson with two homers. Pederson hit 39 home runs during the back-and-forth with the Blue Jays’ rookie, finishing with 60 total on the night.
He was cheered on by Dodgers teammates and fellow All-Stars Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. Other MLB players on hand also were lost in the excitement of the semifinals matchup.
Guerrero finished with 91 home runs on the night, shattering a Home Run Derby record that was previously held by Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 61 in 2016. While Guerrero eliminated Pederson, he seemingly ran out of stamina against New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso in the final round.