MLB Home Run Derby 2022: Juan Soto edges Julio Rodriguez for crown

Washington Nationals youngster Juan Soto defeated Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez to win the title 19-18.

It was Soto’s first MLB Home Run Derby title and did it in dramatic fashion with a few seconds to spare. At 23 years and 266 days old, he’s the second-youngest Home Run Derby champion.

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American League's Julio Rodriguez, of the Seattle Mariners, smiles during the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Los Angeles.

American League’s Julio Rodriguez, of the Seattle Mariners, smiles during the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Rodriguez knocked off Corey Seager in his first-round matchup 32-24. He followed up with a win over New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso, who came into the Derby as the two-time defending champion. Rodriguez won that matchup 31-23.

Soto started with an 18-17 win over Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez and later knocked off Albert Pujols.

Pujols made a magical run to the semifinal. He ousted Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber in the first round in one of the surprises of the night. 

National League's Albert Pujols, of the St. Louis Cardinals, smiles during the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Los Angeles.

National League’s Albert Pujols, of the St. Louis Cardinals, smiles during the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Players celebrated Pujols after he took his swings, thinking that Schwarber was a shoo-in to make the semifinals. But it was Pujols who pulled it out in the win.

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Pujols was then edged by Soto 16-15 in the semifinals. It is likely to be his final Home Run Derby as he announced his plans to retire from baseball at the end of the season.

Alonso defeated Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. 20-19 in the first round but was then upset by Rodriguez in the semifinal. Alonso was looking to become the first three-time winner since Ken Griffey Jr.

National League's Pete Alonso, of the New York Mets, reacts during the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Los Angeles.

National League’s Pete Alonso, of the New York Mets, reacts during the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 18, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

In the end, the future of the sport was on display.

This year, 21-year-old Rodriguez earned his first All-Star selection in his first year. The hot-hitting outfielder had 16 home runs and was batting .275 with a .814 OPS in 91 games so far this season. He’s helped the Mariners ride a 14-game winning streak into the break.

The All-Star Game comes to Seattle next season and Rodriguez will have a chance to win it.

The 23-year-old Soto, who may not be on the Nationals by the trade deadline, already has a World Series ring and a batting title under his belt. He is one of the brightest young stars in baseball.

Jul 18, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) reacts after hitting in the first round during the 2022 Home Run Derby at Dodgers Stadium.

Jul 18, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto (22) reacts after hitting in the first round during the 2022 Home Run Derby at Dodgers Stadium. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

He has 20 home runs and is batting .25 with a .901 OPS in 91 games.

The MLB All-Star Game is set for Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on FOX.

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