The 2021 T-Mobile Home Run Derby promised spectacle and drama, and it delivered.
Mammoth homers cut through the mile-high air at Coors Field, where the humidor had been turned off for the day. There were big bombs, upsets and plenty of last-second nail-biting. When the baseballs finally stopped flying, more than 300 dingers had been hit, and Pete Alonso had earned his second consecutive Derby title.
Here are 21 stats and facts to know about a wild night in Denver:
• There were 309 homers hit this year, which, incredibly, is not a single-Derby record, because there were 312 in 2019. (The record before that was 221, in 2018). Of course, the time per round was reduced from four minutes to three this year, and two in the finals. (On the other hand, hitters could earn a full minute of bonus time, instead of 30 seconds).
• What did all of those dingers add up to, in terms of distance? Try 138,765 feet. Or, since that’s a difficult number to wrap one’s mind around, how about this: All of this year’s Derby homers flew a combined total of 26.28 miles. In other words, a full marathon (26.2 miles) — plus an extra 140 yards or so.
• With the humidor off and the temperature hot at Coors Field, it seemed nearly certain that this Derby would set some records. And it did. In the four previous Derbies for which we have Statcast data, the longest homer was 513 feet, by Aaron Judge. On Monday, three players beat that mark: Juan Soto (520 feet), Trevor Story (518) and Alonso (514). Shohei Ohtani also equaled Judge at 513. (The longest in-game homer is 505 feet).
• In those four previous Statcast-tracked Derbies, there had been a total of four balls hit 500-plus feet, all by Judge. There were a whopping 15 on Monday alone: six by Ohtani, four apiece by Alonso and Soto and one by Story. Eight of the 10 longest tracked Derby homers are now from 2021, as well as 12 of the top 15.
• In this Derby, 475 feet was the magic number, with any homer that long in regulation unlocking the full-minute bonus time. In a typical setting, that might have seemed daunting, but not at Coors. All eight competitors hit multiple 475-footers, led by Alonso with 20 and Ohtani with 14 (all in one round).
All in all, there were 69 dingers hit 475-plus feet in the Derby. That’s more than in all regular and postseason games combined since 2015 (67).
• Alonso is the fourth player to win multiple Home Run Derby titles, joining Ken Griffey Jr. (three times), Yoenis Céspedes (twice) and Prince Fielder (twice). Alonso, Griffey (1998-99) and Céspedes (2013-14) are the only sluggers to go back-to-back.
• Alonso set the tone early with a staggering 35 homers in his matchup against Salvador Perez, blowing past the previous first-round record of 29 set by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2019. Those 35 homers marked the third-most put up by a slugger in any round in Derby history, trailing only the epic 40-39 showdown between Guerrero and Joc Pederson (which required three swing-offs) in the ‘19 semifinals.
• With 16 more homers in the semifinals and 23 in the finals, Alonso finished the night with a massive total of 74 long balls. That set a new record total for any Derby winner, surpassing the 61 hit by Giancarlo Stanton in 2016. As impressive as 74 homers is, it still falls well shy of the single-Derby record of 91 (!) bopped by Guerrero in a losing effort to Alonso in ‘19.
• After just two Derby appearances, Alonso is already king of the event — at least by one metric. He’s already belted his way to a staggering 131 homers in the competition, 32 more than the second-place Pederson (99) on the all-time career Derby homer list.
• Alonso walloped 15,659 feet (or just under three miles) worth of homers in his first round alone. In terms of total homer distance in a single round, that is the third-highest total in any Derby under Statcast tracking since 2016, trailing only Guerrero (16,925 feet) and Pederson’s (16,911 feet) totals from their epic ‘19 semifinal.
• “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the saying goes, and Alonso’s pull-side swing clearly wasn’t broken. All but two of his 74 homers were hit to the left side of second base, per Statcast tracking.
• If you go by average homer distance, Alonso only got stronger as the night went on. His fence-clearers averaged 447 feet in Round 1, 450 feet in the semifinals and 464 feet in the finals.
Ohtani’s action-packed round
• Ohtani, a two-way sensation, entered as the Derby’s biggest headliner, and though he lost to Soto in a pair of first-round swing-offs, he did make some history by blasting an incredible 15 homers of 475 feet or longer. That set a single-round record for any Derby under Statcast tracking dating back to 2016, with Soto’s 10 475-plus footers in that same opening-round showdown and Alonso’s nine in his first round also blowing past the previous record of eight set by Giancarlo Stanton in ‘16 and ‘17.
• Ohtani blasted six homers of 500 feet or longer (including his last two dingers of the night, a pair of moonshots at 503 and 505 feet) to set a new single-Derby record. Soto blasted four 500-footers of his own, meaning they both surpassed the previous single-Derby round record of three set by Aaron Judge in 2017’s semifinal. Judge hit four total 500-footers in the ‘17 event.
• Ohtani’s longest blast was a 110 mph shot that traveled a projected 513 feet, which tied Judge’s previous Statcast record-holder from 2017. It now stands as the fourth-longest tater tracked by Statcast (in game action or at the Derby) behind Soto’s 520-footer, Story’s 518-footer and Alonso’s 514-footer all clubbed on Monday night.
• Ohtani averaged a home run distance of 465 feet, setting a record for the longest single-round average in any Statcast-tracked Derby dating back to 2016. He just barely topped Alonso’s 464-foot average in this year’s finals, as they both surpassed the previous record of 461 feet set by Stanton (2016 semifinal).
• Ohtani had the distance, and he also had the raw power. Three of his homers left the bat at 117 mph, tying Alonso for the hardest-hit homers across this year’s tournament. Ohtani’s 28 homers averaged 110.9 mph exit velocity, easily the hardest for any 2021 Derby slugger in any round (Alonso was second, averaging 108.8 in the final).
• Although he was eliminated in the first round, Salvador Perez’s 28 home runs are now tied with Ohtani (2021) and Josh Hamilton (2008) for the fourth-highest first-round total in Derby history. They are also more than double the number of dingers that all previous Royals hit in Derby history — Bo Jackson (1988), Danny Tartabull (1991) and Mike Moustakas (2017) combined for 13 homers.
• What a night it was for the Orioles’ Trey Mancini, who made a spirited run to the finals in his first Derby, a year after overcoming colon cancer. Mancini’s 59 total homers are the fifth most by any player in any Derby.
• Mancini certainly enjoyed the Derby atmosphere at Coors Field. During actual games, none of Mancini’s 102 career homers have traveled further than 459 feet, per Statcast. On Monday alone, he thumped 23 dingers that went at least that far.
• Soto, as mentioned earlier, emerged with the longest distance of the night, at a Statcast Era record 520 feet. That’s 54 feet longer than Soto’s in-game record of 466 feet, which he set last August against the Mets at Citi Field. His previous long distance at Coors Field was a paltry 400 feet.