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Nationals' Juan Soto slugs way to Home Run Derby title

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Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto watches a home run go over the left field wall in the first round of the MLB Home Run Derby on Monday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto watches a home run go over the left field wall in the first round of the MLB Home Run Derby on Monday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

July 19 (UPI) -- Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto outslugged Jose Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Julio Rodriguez to become the second-youngest MLB player in history to claim a Home Run Derby title.

Soto swatted a total of 53 long balls in the eight-player slugfest Monday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. He beat Rodriguez 19-18 in the final round to claim the trophy and a championship chain, a new reward for the winner.

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"It feels great," Soto told reporters. "It's another thing I can add to my trophy case. I will be a Home Run Derby champion forever. ... I saw the scoreboard change and show the champion and it just felt amazing."

Soto started his Derby journey with narrow win over Ramirez. The Cleveland Guardians third baseman smashed 17 homers compared to Soto's 18.

Pujols, who upset top seed Kyle Schwarber of the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round, then hit 15 homers to start the second. Soto then stepped up to the plate and hit 16 to advance to the final.

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Rodriguez beat Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager 32-24 in the first round. He then out-swatted New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, the two-time defending champion, 31-23 in the second to reach the finale.

Alonso edged Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. 20-19 in the first round.

Rodriguez totaled a Derby-high 81 homers and was the first player in the event's history to hit at least 30 home runs in multiple rounds. His home run total was the second-most in Derby history, behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s 91 from 2019.

The 2022 MLB All-Star Game will air at 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday on Fox. Shane McClanahan of the Tampa Bay Rays will pitch for the American League. Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the National League.

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