Alonso downs Guerrero in home run derby thriller

Los Angeles (AFP) –


New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso blasted his way to victory in Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby on Monday, bludgeoning 23 homers to defeat Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr in the final.

Alonso bested Guerrero, another rookie, with a nerveless display of power hitting to claim the $1 million prize on offer for the winner at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

The derby is the traditional curtain-raiser to baseball's mid-season All-Star Game, which takes place on Tuesday with the American League facing the National League line-up.

Alonso is only the second rookie to win the derby duel following Aaron Judge's victory for the New York Yankees in 2017.

Alonso had won through to the final after defeating Cleveland favorite Carlos Santana in the opening round before edging out Ronald Acuna Jr in the semi-finals.

But the highlight of the night came in a thrilling semi-final duel between Guerrero Jr. and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson.

Guerrero had already blasted a single-round record 29 dingers in his first round win over Oakland's Matt Chapman, beating Josh Hamilton's record of 28 set at Yankee Stadium in 2008.

The Toronto star then equaled his first-round total of 29 after leading off against Pederson.

Pederson, however, was anything but intimidated, crushing 29 homers to force a 60-second swingoff.

Once again the two sluggers were inseparable, Guerrero adding eight more homers to take his total to 37 before Pederson stepped up to match it with eight home runs of his own.

That forced a sudden death three-swing swing-off, with Guerrero winning in the second round after Pederson finally failed to match his opponent, finishing the round with a new record 40 homers.