Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may have hit the most home runs Monday night in Cleveland, but it was Pete Alonso who was the winner of the Home Run Derby.
The Mets slugger credited his strategy of conserving his energy throughout the night so he would not be tired come the final round.
"Yeah, survive and advance," Alonso said at post-Derby press conference. "Go in with a killer instinct. It doesn't matter how many you hit, you just need to have more than the guy you're facing."
Alonso did exactly that, hitting just one more home run than the hitter he was paired against in each round. In the first round, Alonso hit 14 to Carlos Santana's 13 and then Alonso hit 20 to Ronald Acuña Jr.'s 19 in the semifinal. Both times Alonso had earned the extra 30 seconds and both times he did not need to use it.
"I'm really happy I didn't have to swing a lot going in the extra rounds," he said. "That's the one thing most of my teammates .... pretty much all were saying conserve as much energy as possible, stay hydrated, keep body loose."
Of course, Alonso benefited from a couple of factors. Because he was the No. 2 seed, he got to hit second against each hitter he faced, allowing him to know how many home runs he needed to advance.
He also avoided the Guerrero-Joc Pederson side of the bracket, which featured a three extra rounds in the semifinals as the two went home run for home run with each other. It was perhaps the highlight of the night and even left Alonso mesmerized.
"That was elite hitting," he said. "Some of the best rounds of BP I ever watched. I think that was even better than the Josh Hamilton round. Both of them going back and forth and clawing back, the way Joc did -- he had his work cut out for him -- but the way he came back, that's just mental fortitude right htere. That was a helluva show. Not sure we'll see that again. That was special."
Alonso's pitcher, his second cousin Derek Morgan, also appeared to struggle to find Alonso's sweet spot at times during the night, but the two believed they just needed to get the jitters out early.
"I think we figured it out after that first timeout," Morgan said.
Alonso praised Morgan as the Mets rookie soaked in being the new Home Run Derby champion.
"To do this in front of friends and family and loved ones, this was a dream come true," he said. "This was amazing. I couldn't have had a better pitcher. This was surreal."