August 10, 2022

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Can Acuna upset Alonso within the first spherical? Our predictions because the HR Derby hits L.A.

10:52 PM ET Jeff PassanESPN Close ESPN MLB insiderWriter of “The Arm: Contained in the...

LOS ANGELES — If Juan Soto will get traded, the staff that acquires him will not simply be getting top-of-the-line hitters in baseball. It can get the reigning Dwelling Run Derby champion, too.

Soto, the outstanding 23-year-old whose All-Star week was upended by questions on his future with the Washington Nationals after he turned down a $440 million contract extension, pounded house runs to all areas of Dodger Stadium and held off star rookie Julio Rodríguez.

Needing 19 house runs to beat his Dominican Republic countryman within the finals, Soto hit 15 through the two minutes of regulation time and completed the job with greater than 30 seconds remaining in bonus time.

It spoiled an evening that beforehand had been the most recent episode of the J-Rod Present.

Rodriguez, the precocious 21-year-old Seattle Mariners outfielder, ambushed the sphere Monday evening, ousting the two-time defending champion and smashing 81 house runs.

The primary hitter of the evening, Rodriguez set the tone for his displaying with 32 house runs in his first-round matchup towards Corey Seager. Because the No. 6 seed, Rodríguez went first in all three rounds, setting paces that his opponents could not match.

That included Pete Alonso, the New York Mets slugger who received the final two competitions in 2019 and 2021 however mustered solely 23 house runs within the semifinals, nicely wanting Rodríguez’s 31.

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Soto, who arrived right here dealing with questions on turning down a 15-year, $440 million contract extension from the Nationals, was locked in from the start, beating Cleveland third baseman Jose Ramirez within the first spherical and Albert Pujols within the semifinals.

Pujols, 42, is in his ultimate season — and upset Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber within the first spherical, beating him in an extra time interval. He could not sustain with Soto, whose 482-foot house run within the first spherical was the longest of the evening.