September 24, 2023

Randy Arozarena, Vlad Guerrero Jr. advance to final after Julio Rodriguez sets single-round record

Seattle superstar Julio Rodriguez hit 41 home runs, a Derby record in one round, for the home fans in the first round of the league on Monday at T-Mobile Park.  (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Seattle superstar Julio Rodriguez hit 41 home runs, a Derby record in one round, for the home fans in the first round of the league on Monday at T-Mobile Park. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

SEATTLE – Baseball’s annual showcase of light tower power is here. The finals of the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby are underway at T-Mobile Park, following the game everyone has been waiting for: hometown hero Julio Rodríguez vs. Derby king Pete Alonso. Julio did not disappoint, shattering the single-round record with 41 home runs in a thrilling performance in front of his home crowd.

In the first round, Tampa Bay Rays slugger Randy Arozarena kicked things off with 24 homers to win his matchup with Adolis Garcia. Next, Adley Rutschman switched his way to 27 dingers before Luis Robert Jr. beat him by one lead with a walk-off in their face-off. Then Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit. casually out 26 to beat Mookie Betts. Then came the battle between Rodríguez and Alonso.

In the semifinals, Randy Arozarena put in a cool 35 to beat No. 1 seed Luis Robert Jr. and seal his place in the final. Julio Rodríguez hit 20 home runs in his second outing of the night, but Vlad Guerrero Jr. matched him before he even reached his bonus time and then walked off.

Here’s our breakdown by round, with updates, reactions, and highlights from Seattle.


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 25

in return for

Randy Arozena


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 21, Julio Rodriguez 20

HK: Strategy: Going first was bad for Julio’s chances. He expended so much energy hitting 40 home runs in the first round when he only needed 22 to beat Pete.

ZC: Julio gets into trouble against Guerrero. This is going to be a fascinating social experiment as Seattle fans get to choose who they want to go with in the finals.

ZC: I enjoy the mid-round strategy sessions with other players. “What do you guys think? Should I hit more homers or fewer homers?”

HK: If they all take care of their tired friend? That’s my favourite.

Randy Arozarena 35, Luis Robert Jr. 21

HK: The crowd is definitely sparing their cheers for Julio now, while they rest their voices during the other rounds.

ZC: Randy Arozarena was unsurprisingly up for battle in the semifinals, launching 35. Luis Robert Jr. meanwhile hit the most viscerally powerful home runs. Just everywhere. He rattled one out of the batter’s eye in center field. This is a man so powerful that he doesn’t need to be tactical with hitting his homer.

HK: Thanks to the Derby catchers for staying not at all included in this. Have they even touched a baseball?

ZC: But it’s Arozarena going to the final. Get ready for some Randy madness in the playoffs.


HK: I think I speak for everyone when I say that this is the matchup we are all here for.

I have to admit that I was actually a little scared that Julio would be under too much pressure in this Home Run Derby. He is the only contestant for whom expectations around his performance have been building up for a whole year. He is like that, So loved in this city that even its mild sophomore slump this season has been kind of hard to watch! Mariners fans are dying to have a reason to choose him and the team.

But he just set the record for most home runs ever hit in a single round of the Derby.

ZC: He hit home runs so fast I couldn’t see him swing because too many longballs landed on the top deck. That round of 41 homers is the new single-round record, and the previous record came with tiebreaks.

ZC: Pete Alonso hit homers, but the crowd held back all the excitement in solidarity with the hometown hero, creating a very strange atmosphere. The dream continues for Seattle as Pete falls far short.

HK: Pete will be so sad. 🙁 That’s my analysis.

ZC: The net result of Robert-Rutschman’s round is that Guerrero’s 26 home runs somehow feel underwhelming.

If nothing else, Mookie wins big points in Seattle for going along with Ken Griffey Jr.’s backwards cap look.

HK: The difference in swing violence between Guerrero and Betts is so dramatic. Guerrero was blown away by everyone – and I wanted to say something about Betts, but I noticed shortly after his round that Guerrero is wearing some sort of back brace, which makes so much sense. Betts’s five-instrument approach to baseball was no match for Guerrero’s willingness to sacrifice his back to launch bombs.

No. 1 Louis Robert Jr. 28, No. 8 Adley Rutschman 27

ZC: The only thing I was worried about about Rutschman was if he would literally catch me with a home run ball in the auxiliary press box. He came very close. OK, then he switched to hitting right handed and crushed the bonus round. That was impressive for a kid from the Pacific Northwest.

HK: I was concerned that Rutschman would go for the sentimental choice – his dad threw at him – but that turned out to be a good strategy.

uh. Wow. ← I watched the bonus 30 seconds he took from the right side. The swarms of field kids didn’t even turn to look at home plate. They all stood facing each other and watched the balls fly over their heads. I also think if I were somehow brand new to baseball as an adult, switch hitting would be the skill that blows my mind the most. Maybe after what Shohei Ohtani does.

I wonder if switch hitting is a secret to excelling at the Derby, because so much of it is about fighting fatigue, and if you can switch to fresh muscle at some point (?) that could give you an advantage yield. Big Inigo Montoya says “I’m not left handed” while dueling vibes. Is this a reference people get?

ZC: Luis Robert…not impressed. He matches Rutschman’s total before the bonus round begins, including one homer hitting the top row of the left field bleachers here. He walks it off a few swings in his bonus time.

HK: Well. Show me what I know. Robert demonstrated that another tactic to avoid fatigue is common are tireless. There is also so much talk about how young Adley is, but Robert is the same age! And he finished second in the 2020 Rookie of the Year voting.

No. 5 Randy Arozarena 24, No. 4 Adolis García 16

ZC: OK, but how many homers could Randy hit in his special lucky cowboy boots? It feels like Arozarena is only going to get stronger as he gets closer to the final. The man lives for the exploits of national television.

HK: That’s what I wanted to say! Randy thrives as the pressure mounts – unless he gets carried away and starts striking a pose after every home run. He’s probably the player most hurt by the timed format – unlike the “outs” version of the Derby from years ago – as his strength is reduced by not having time to freeze with his arms crossed after every homer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *