MLB

MLB Home Run Derby 2021: Shohei Ohtani upset by Juan Soto in dramatic swing-off

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Monday night, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was among the MLB stars to take his hacks in the 2021 Home Run Derby at Coors Field. Ohtani took an MLB-leading 33 homers into the Home Run Derby — no other player has more than 28 homers this season — and was the odds-on favorite to win the thing.

The bracket format matched Ohtani up with Nationals wunderkind Juan Soto and Soto more than gave Ohtani a run for his money. Ohtani needed a big finish just to tie Soto with 22 home runs in the initial three-minute round (plus 60-second bonus time). During his timeout, Ohtani received a pep talk from Angels teammate Mike Trout, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

Ohtani and Soto each hit five home runs in the one-minute tiebreaker to force a second tiebreaker. The second tiebreaker is a three-swing swing-off, and Soto went 3 for 3. Three swings, three homers. Ohtani hit a little ground ball on his first swing and that was it, he was eliminated after hitting 28 home runs. Soto hit 31, including a 520-foot blast, the longest home run of the night.

Although he was eliminated in Round 1, Ohtani did sock six 500-foot home runs, the most ever in a single round in the Statcast era (2015 to present). He hit home runs that traveled 513, 507, 505, 503, 500, and 500 feet. Ohtani also hit 15 home runs over 475 feet in Round 1, by far the most in a single round in the Statcast era.

Truth be told, Ohtani losing in Round 1 isn’t the end of the world. He will be the starting pitcher and starting DH for the American League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, and doing all that after a long and taxing Home Run Derby run would be difficult. The Home Run Derby is an endurance competition as much as anything and these guys all look gassed at the end of their rounds.

Follow along for the results of the 2021 Home Run Derby here.



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