Since his debut in 2019, Pete Alonso has been performing brilliantly in his baseball game. Nobody has come close to him when it comes to his achievements. Alonso has 24 more achievements than homers than Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, and Mike Trout.
The winner of the last two derbies in 2019 and 2021, Alonso has primed to make history. Before him, only Ken Griffey Jr. has taken three Home Run Derby titles. Alonso, 27, has still a lot more to achieve but he will manage to do so if he continues to perform remarkably.
In a recent interview with ESPN, Alonso shared how he approaches the Derby and what it takes to win. Pete Alonso shares his 10 golden Rules to Win a Home Run Derby. He said:
“It’s the most addicting feeling,” Alonso said. “I mean, I can’t get enough of it. I don’t know if there’s anyone that loves hitting homers more than I do.”
Rule No. 1: Hydrate like crazy
Winning a home run derby can be tough and this is why you have to perform well. Alonso shared that he makes sure to eat well and get some extra hours of sleep. Above all, he drinks water as if he is suffering from a personal drought.
“People think that the Derby’s a power showcase, but I think it’s more of an endurance competition,” Alonso said. “Thing is, it’s not just the day before. It’s a couple of days before for me. I always try and be the most hydrated person I can be because when you’re out here sweating, especially now in the summer, it gets to be a lot. And then you start feeling fatigued if you’re not [hydrated]. So I just want to be able for my body to bounce back, recover and be able to sustain a high energy output.”
Rule No. 2: Get moral support from your friends
All the people who want to enter the home run derby have an idea that the backing of friends can be a great help to win the game. When you are a star like Pete Alonso, and you have friends like Mike Piazza and Mark McGwire, then you will be able to motivate yourself with great moral support.
“I thought they were pretty much superheroes, and to be able to reach out to both of ’em [is amazing],” Alonso said. “Mark actually texted me the other day, and he’s pretty excited that I was gonna participate in the Derby. So it’s really amazing that for me, I have a relationship with my childhood idols.”
Rule No. 3: The opponent doesn’t matter
Alonso ranked hitters based on their first-half home runs. Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber has been leading the field. The star player has been followed by Alonso, Corey Seager, Soto, Jose Ramirez, newbie Julio Rodriguez, Alonso’s opponent Ronald Acuna Jr. and Albert Pujols.
It would be easy, and natural, for Alonso as he fears Acuna –who was his first-round opponent. Acuna’s prodigious power can be challenging to beat. He is a young boy as he is just 24. He plays very well in every event. He is Pete Alonso, and everyone else isn’t. He has all sorts of self-assurance and this goes a long way.
“It doesn’t necessarily matter who I’m facing because I’m just out there and focusing on my job at hand, which is whatever number is set, I just need to hit one more than that,” he said. “So I don’t really pay attention to who’s doing it. I want to hit one more than whoever I’m facing.”
Rule No. 4: Find the right pitcher
Alonso acknowledged, that not every player gets the best batting practice pitcher in the world. A pitcher who is willing to fly to Europe for the event can be a great support for the players. MLB has attempted to make the Derby an international event. He turned into a temporary celebrity last year as he grooved pitch after pitch when he got into Alonso’s nitro zone.
“He knows where it is just right,” Alonso said. “Right over the middle of the plate and right in the bread basket. As much as I have to hit ’em, the pitcher’s gotta throw ’em. It’s just as nerve-wracking for the pitcher as it is for the hitter because the pitcher has a responsibility to throw the ball over the dish. When you have 40, 50,000 people with their eyes on you and breathing down your neck, so to speak, it can be difficult.”
Rule No. 5: Know your zone
It is not important for the pitcher to find the hitter’s sweet spot. You must participate and must concentrate to swing at substandard pitches. You should always remember that the pitcher must wait until a fly ball lands and throws the next offering.
“Basically I’m just looking for a pitch in my area,” Alonso said. “I have an area I’m looking for the ball to be in. So that’s gonna be my go-zone. Pretty much my entire load is trying to see the ball in my area. And then, once I finally get into that loaded position, if I like what I see, you should see my hips, my core, my legs rotating back and through the baseball.”
Rule No. 6: Stick to your swing
Derby can ruin a player’s swing and there is a lot of evidence that shows that participants’ offensive numbers can decline after the break. There are many players that exist and can replicate his in-game swing in the exhibition.
“When I take batting practice, I try and take game-like swings,” Alonso said. “I want to be quick and concise to the baseball but also adding that similar effort level. Because I want to practice in a similar tempo [as] the way that I play.
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Rule No. 7: Make sure to use your timeouts smartly
A well-timed timeout is a saving grace and it can also be a fair chance to win the $1 million. If you aim to get the first-place Derby prize. There are participants that use a number of reasons to change their juju. He needs to calculate the pace and hit to surpass an opponent or, typically, he’s simply tired.
“I know it sounds like a super simple answer,” Alonso said, “but when I’ve taken time out, it’s like, OK, I need to take a breath. I need to reset. Or like last year: I went past the halfway mark because we were in a perfect groove. As soon as the groove ended, it’s like, OK, let’s take a timeout here, catch our breath and then cross the finish line. So I think timing the breaks correctly is huge.”
Rule No. 8: Let your emotions out
It is about calibrating your feelings. Derby brings a lot of challenges to Alonso. He feels that he doesn’t have any special technique to calm his nerves. He keeps on drinking carbonated beverages to keep himself energized.
“There’s excitement,” Alonso said. “There’s doubt. There’s antsiness. There’s reservedness. It’s just like a whole soda bottle of emotions. And then when you go out there and hit, by the time you shake it up and let the top off, it’s just this release of emotions. And that’s when, for me, when I’m in my groove, it just naturally comes out.”
Rule No. 9: Hit tanks
The home run derbies must follow a special sort of confidence that will help to step into the batter’s box. The fence is merely an arbitrary measure of distance. It can be a memorable thing for the homers. Some of the legendary performances come from the guys who like to hit the ball the farthest.
In the finals, Alonso’s first swing made the longest homer of the Derby: 509 feet. He destroyed another ball: and made a hit of 115 mph off the bat, 508 feet before it landed.
“People tell me all the time that with the Derby balls and the environment I’d probably be able to put one in the parking lot,” Alonso said. “So I think that’d be fun. Hit one actually outta the stadium.”
Rule No. 10: Have a blast
The Home Run Derby can be a real fun event. There can be all kinds of conflicting emotions, and you may experience perils of hydration but it is always important to have a good time. You should always be thankful for the fence-scrapers and laugh at the bad swings.
“I’m there to win,” Alonso said. “I’m doing it to win, and it’d be great, but ultimately I’m gonna be having a wonderful time. I’m gonna be able to help support some people in need. It’s gonna be a blast.”