1. July 12: Alonso wins second straight Home Run Derby, becoming the first Mets player to accomplish that feat
While this accomplishment didn’t impact an actual Mets game this year, it was the moment in 2021 when Alonso’s showmanship was at its finest. After becoming the second rookie ever to win the Derby in 2019 (Aaron Judge also won it in his 2017 rookie season), Alonso was back in Derby territory this season, set to match up against Salvador Perez in the first round. Though two-way phenomenon Shohei Ohtani, who was the No. 1 overall seed in the Derby, garnered most of the spotlight heading into the event, Alonso snatched back the spotlight in a hurry.
Alonso set an unbeatable standard in his first round, crushing 35 home runs. Perez was nearly up to the challenge, launching 28 home runs in response, but the Polar Bear moved on to the next round with relative ease. He next matched up with Juan Soto, who appeared to be worn out from his first-round face-off with Ohtani and hit only (only) 15 home runs in his round. Alonso outdid him with no trouble, securing his spot in the finale without even needing his bonus time. From there, he dispatched of Trey Mancini in the final round, sending 23 home runs into the Denver sky to lock down a “Re-Pete” victory.
Alonso’s Derby victory was his top highlight of the year not just because of what he did, but how he did it. While at the plate at Coors Field, Alonso was bopping his head to his music between pitches, practically dancing out of the batter’s box. During one timeout, which clearly wasn’t taken due to exhaustion, he gestured to the roaring crowd and implored them to cheer louder, putting his hands to his ear and egging them on. The Home Run Derby is all about putting on a show, and Alonso proved once again that no one, in that setting, can do it better than him.
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Alonso’s hitting highlights were among the bright spots in the Mets’ underwhelming 2021 season. Fans of the blue and orange can only hope that he has many more where those bases-clearing doubles, home runs, and exuberant celebrations came from.