Toronto Blue Jays: Guerrero Jr. shines with historic performance at Home Run Derby

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays competes in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Progressive Field. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays competes in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Progressive Field. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Vladimir Guerrero broke multiple records at the Home Run Derby, but the Toronto Blue Jays slugger didn’t come out of spectacle with the trophy.

When Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was announced as a participant in the 2019 Home Run Derby although, there was some criticism.

After all, the 20-year-old only had eight home runs on the campaign. But when the yearly spectacle was said and done, every detractor was praising the young slugger.

Guerrero came into the derby as the youngest individual to ever compete in the derby. He was slated as the No. 8 seed and was originally slated to match up against Christian Yelich, who led the league in homers with 31 heading into the break. Yelich was dealing with a back injury and ultimately pulled out of the showcase, opening the door for Oakland Athletics slugger Matt Chapman.

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As the lower seed, Guerrero would be the first player up in the matchup, and he’d snap Josh Hamilton’s single-round home run record by smashing 29 balls over the left-field wall at Progressive Field. Chapman, who came into the event on one day’s notice, only managed to hit 13.

In the second round, it was Guerrero matching up with Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who hit 21 dingers in his first-round matchup against Alex Bregman.

Vlad would match his 29 homers from the previous round, coming up just short of breaking his own record on the final swing of his 30-second bonus. Pederson would answer by calmly matching the youngster with 29 home runs of his own. The pair would tie in the one-minute overtime, forcing a swing-off. After they tied again with one homer apiece on three swings the first time around, Guerrero would get the better of Pederson in the second round.

The combined for 79 dingers in the round, with Guerrero hitting 40.

Guerrero and fellow rookie Pete Alonso would meet in the final, where Vlad would have a rough start, looking a little gassed after his marathon second round. He would still manage to power 22 balls out of the park, setting himself up nicely for a chance at the title. But it wasn’t in the cards. Alonso would smash 23 out of the yard to claim the victory and the $1-million prize.

Despite coming up just short, Guerrero set a Home Run Derby record by hitting 91 total homers. Like in Hamilton’s record-breaking derby, the man who hit the most dingers wasn’t the eventual winner. He’s the winner in our hearts, if that counts for anything.

Guerrero will be able to sit back and watch the MLB All-Star Game, which takes place on Tuesday night. He’ll then try to carry his success from this weekend into the second half of the year to help the Jays turn their fortunes around.

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