Julio Rodriguez didn't technically win the 2022 MLB Home Run Derby, but it's hard to not call him a winner after Monday.
The Seattle Mariners outfielder, the overwhelming favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year, came up short in the final with a loss to Washington Nationals star Juan Soto, but managed to double his salary this season just by reaching that far.
As USA Today's Bob Nightengale noted after the event, the $750,000 payout Rodriguez receives as runner-up is more money than he will receive from the Mariners this season, as Rodriguez is being paid the $700,000 MLB minimum salary, like every other rookie.
The money was well earned. Soto might have taken home the title, but Rodriguez had far more home runs across all three rounds with 81 to Soto's 53, though those numbers are a little skewed. Soto hit second in every round as the higher seed while Rodriguez hit first each round, allowing him to use the full amount of time allotted.
Rodriguez started the day with 32 homers, more than any other player would hit in a single round the whole event.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) July 19, 2022
Rodriguez, who would have been the youngest-ever Home Run Derby winner by two years, didn't seem too upset about missing out on the title, especially with his fellow Dominican phenom winning the prize:
"I feel like that was pretty cool that basically the trophy just stayed in our country and if you know that we breathe baseball there. Being on this stage and representing our country, that was really special for us. That was basically the coolest thing we talked about."
Win or not, the performance continues a dream rookie season for Rodriguez. The 21-year-old is hitting .275/.337/.477 (a 134 OPS+) with 16 homers, 21 stolen bases and 53 runs while playing center field for the Mariners every night. His efforts currently have the Mariners on a 14-game win streak, and in contention for their first playoff appearance since 2001, another year they had a pretty good rookie.