Joc Pederson may have more strikeouts (107) than anyone else in Major League Baseball this season, but that stat was unimportant on Monday as the Palo Alto High grad was in the national spotlight while finishing second in the Gillette Home Run Derby in Cincinnati.
Pederson slammed 14 home runs in the final round as he tried to become the first rookie since Wally Joyner in 1986 to win or share the title. Pederson came up one shy as hometown favorite Todd Frazier of the Reds won with 15 at Great American Ball Park.
Still, it was quite a night for the 23-year-old Pederson, who will start in left field for the National League in Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile. He finished with 39 home runs during the round-robin Derby.
"I'm pretty tired," Pederson told MLB.com afterward. "It's a great event. The fans were really into it . . . Just to be in the same group as all eight of us was a huge honor."
After topping Manny Machado of the Orioles in the first round (13-12), Pederson edged Albert Pujols of the Angels (12-11) before advancing to face Frazier, who had plenty of support.
Hitting first in the final round, Pederson hit home runs on six successive swings in 37 seconds. He then called a timeout with two minutes and 15 seconds left, still stuck on six home runs. Pederson resumed his round with more home runs in bunches, finishing with 14. That left him to wait for Frazier, who hit last.
Frazier pulled even with Pederson with his 14th home run just before the end of regulation time. But, given bonus time, Frazier connected with the first pitch that he saw for the Derby winner.
Because of the new format to the Derby -- now a timed event with a bracket format -- Pederson and the other seven contestants found themselves working up a fast sweat round after round. Just before the finals against Frazier, he allowed himself a moment to step back and take in the wild scene at the Reds' home field.
Pederson started fast Monday and hit some of the longest home runs of the event. That he launched so many deep drives didn't come as much of a surprise for those who have watched him this season as 13 of his 20 regular-season home runs traveled 420 or more feet. In the first round, Pederson slammed one that traveled 487 feet.
Tuesday's appearance will be the first All-Star Game for Pederson, who replaced Matt Holliday of the Cardinals in the starting lineup because of a right quad injury. Pederson will bat eighth.
A year ago this week, Pederson, was preparing to play in the Triple-A All-Star Game. But on Monday, he was one of five Dodgers who spoke with reporters in advance of Tuesday's All-Star Game.
"I'm just going to continue to grow as a player and keep learning," Pederson told Corey Brock of MLB.com "It's not easy by any means. It's a long season, and I hope to play this game a long time, so I've got to learn to handle the failure better and stay humble with the success."