Julio Rodriguez loses Home Run Derby to Juan Soto, but really should’ve won

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Julio Rodriguez stole the show at the Home Run Derby but lost in the finals to Juan Soto. But you could argue that he was absolutely robbed of the crown.

The first player up to bat on Monday night for the MLB Home Run Derby was Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez. The 21-year-old came up to the dish with big expectations but he more than delivered. Seattle’s young budding superstar belted 32 home runs in the first round, the most of any player in any round on the night.

He followed that up in the second round, against two-time defending Home Run Derby champ Pete Alonso, and delivered the goods yet again, this time smashing 31 dingers and advancing to the finals, where he was met by another young star, Nationals (for now) outfielder Juan Soto.

That’s where the dream died for Rodriguez, though, as the Mariners stud started off the final round with 18 home runs and got surpassed in bonus time by Soto with 19. That left Soto hoisting the trophy and J-Rod empty-handed. But was Rodriguez actually robbed of the Derby win?

Was Julio Rodriguez robbed of winning the Home Run Derby?

Was Rodriguez robbed? No, that’s probably not the right word for what happened. However, it’s completely fair to say that he was by far the star and most impressive performance of the Home Run Derby.

Perhaps nothing is more indicative of this than the fact that the young Mariners star belted more home runs in the first two rounds at Dodger Stadium than Soto did over all three rounds.

Now, the rulebook-pushers of the world are going to say that he peaked too early and didn’t save his energy for the final round. That’s all well and good, but if the point of the contest is to hit the most home runs and Rodriguez did that with 81 in total (compared to Soto’s 53), you could make the argument (albeit flimsily) that the Seattle sensation was the true winner.

Even if he doesn’t get the payday for winning the Derby or the trophy, it’s hard not to walk away thinking that J-Rod was the big winner in LA on Monday night. Anyone who’s watched the Mariners this season knows he’s one of the most exciting players in baseball, but now the world knows.

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