While New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso was ultimately crowned 2019 Home Run Derby champion, most will remember the exhibition for the epic duel between Joc Pederson and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the second round.
The two made MLB history, hitting a record 29 home runs in the four-minute timeframe. The deadlock required a one-minute overtime period, where both Pederson and Guerrero again mirrored each other with eight home runs.
A swing-off was necessary, where both players were permitted three swings to settle the tie. Both Pederson and Guerrero accumulated one home run after their hacks, leading to another tiebreaker.
This time, however, it was Guerrero who prevailed with two home runs against Pederson’s one. As a result, the young Toronto Blue Jays star earned a hard-fought trip to the final round.
Even though he fell short, fans and MLB players alike were blown away by Pederson’s efforts in the second round. Pittsburgh Pirates star Josh Bell, who participated in the competition, offered high praise for the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger, via Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com:
“That was one of the craziest back-and-forths I’ve ever seen,” Pirates first baseman Josh Bell said. “That was like Mike Tyson and [Evander] Holyfield. Two heavy hitters. I didn’t know who was going to take it. Joc put on a show, and Vlad took the cake. To be right there on the field and hear the balls off the bat and feel the crowd was great.”
Guerrero admitted that he was nervous Pederson would ultimately defeat him due to the many tiebreakers he forced:
“He kept tying me,” Guerrero said, “and I was just scared that he was going to beat me.”
Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who was bested by Pederson in the first round, was relieved that he didn’t take part in the grueling showdown that played out in the second round:
“I couldn’t imagine three rounds of that,” said Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who had been ousted by Pederson in the first round. “I was gassed after two minutes of it.”
Despite the disappointing outcome, Pederson still made additional MLB history along the way. His 99 combined home runs between the 2015 and 2019 Home Run Derby are an all-time record for any two appearances in the exhibition contest.