September 24, 2023

Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wins Randy Arozarena in Seattle

Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. scored a historic home run derby victory in Seattle on Monday.

Guerrero hit a championship-record 25 home runs to beat Tampa Bay Rays star Randy Arozarena to take home the title at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park. His victory came 16 years after his father won the 2007 Home Run Derby, making them the first father-son duo to win the event.

When asked afterwards what advice his father gave him, Guerrero said through an interpreter, “No advice. Hit homers.”

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  joined his father as a Home Run Derby champion on Monday.  (Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. joined his father as a Home Run Derby champion on Monday. (Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

When asked what would happen if he and his father competed against each other in a derby, the younger Guerrero surmised, “If it’s on time, I’ll win.” If it is out, he will win.”

Guerrero had only six home runs when he took his timeout in the championship round, but he managed to get to 20 for his one-minute bonus. He then finished the round on 25, which set the record for most home runs in a final round and set a very high bar for Arozarena. (Pete Alonso held the previous final-round record of 23 home runs, set two years ago.)

Arozarena, with his iconic cowboy boots stuck in the sand just behind home plate, got off to a very slow start, missing his first five tries before getting on the board. He somehow got to 21 homers before the round ended, but he missed the extra bonus, leaving him with just 30 seconds to try to outscore Guerrero. He came in just shy of 23 to give Guerrero the win.

Guerrero set a then-one-lap record in a memorable 2019 Derby performance. When asked on Monday if it’s better to have a monster lap like that or win it all, he said: “Definitely to win. In ’19 I hit 91 homers and I lost. I think it was like 60 tonight, and I came out on top.”

When asked if he wants to defend his title next year in Texas, Guerrero said, “If you ask me now, no… Maybe if you ask me next year.”

Guerrero, who is in his fifth season with the Blue Jays, has 13 homeruns to his credit this season. The 24-year-old hits .274 with 58 RBI. The Blue Jays have a 50-41 record at intermission and are seven games behind the Rays in the AL East.

Along with a trophy, Guerrero will take home a 3-pound Derby chain for his championship effort. Seattle Seahawks legend Marshawn Lynch showed off the necklace before the finale.

Seattle Mariners-outfielder Julio Rodríguez shone in front of his home crowd on Monday.

Rodríguez dominated his opening round match in front of a Seattle crowd that went wild for him. Rodríguez burst for 32 home runs for his bonus minute. He finished with 41, immediately threw his bat and ducked behind the plate. It was the most single-round home runs in Derby history, and was Rodríguez’s third round of 30 home runs in the event. At 22, he is the only player in history with more than one.

“I knew he would sooner,” Guerrero said through an interpreter of Rodríguez’s epic performance. “We talked before and you can see he really wanted to win. I mean he put a lot of work into this.”

New York Mets star Pete Alonso collected just 21 home runs against Rodríguez and was easily knocked out.

Rodríguez’s big night ended there, though. He hit 20 home runs in the semifinals, which Guerrero easily matched. Guerrero, who had flown past LA Dodgers star Mookie Betts in his first round game, then needed just one homer in his bonus time to reach the championship round, and with Blue Jays manager John Schneider on the mound in front of him, Guerrero ran he on it. against Rodriguez.

Of the fatigue that set in after his epic first-round performance, Rodríguez said, “It feels like your mind is there, but your body isn’t.”

At the other end of the Derby series, Arozarena swept past Adolis García in his opening round and then threw 35 in his semifinal against Chicago White Sox midfielder Luis Robert Jr. Arozarena became just the fourth player in history (and the second Monday) to hit 35 or more home runs in one round at the Derby.

Robert had reached the semifinals after easily beating Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, who shone with a switch-hitting performance early in the evening with his father on the mound.

In the semifinals, Robert hit 22 home runs and failed to catch Arozarena, allowing Randy to advance to the finals, where he came up just short against the 2023 Home Run Derby champion.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. was asked Monday night if he had learned anything about pacing the 2019 Derby to which he said: “nothing. Nothing at all. I mean everyone told me to calm down, slow down, but you just can’t. You just can’t not.

“You just have to keep hitting homers.”

Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports contributed reporting to this story.

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