Hats Off to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Last night we has the 2019 Home Run Derby, and it was impressive. Pete Alonso may have won the trophy, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stole the show. The Blue Jays slugger broke the single round record for the Home Run Derby with 29 home runs in the first round. Vlads opponent in the first round, Matt Chapman, was a replacement for injured Christian Yelich, and hit only 13 Home Runs. Guerrero Jr. is also the youngest player to compete in the Derby at just 20 years old. It is no surprise he crushed the ball the way he did, it is in his blood. His father, Vladimir Guerrero Sr., was the 2007 Home Run Derby Champion and Hall of Fame Inductee. Let’s look at how the Derby played out.
The seeds are determined by the total number of home runs in the 2019 regular season going into the Home Run Derby. Tie-breakers on this are set by the number of home runs since June 15th.
Ranked by Seed
- Matt Chapman
- Pete Alonso
- Josh Bell
- Alex Bregman
- Joc Pederson
- Ronald Acuña Jr.
- Carlos Santana
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Round By Round Breakdown
(1) Chapman VS (8) Guerrero Jr.
As a late substitue, it is likely that Chapman was not as prepared as Vlad. But then again, who can prepare to compete against 29 home runs in the first round. Chapman began with 2 home runs over 440 feet, earning his bonus early. He was not able to hold a consistency in hitting though. Chapman didn’t have much of a chance as Guerrero beat him 29-13.
(2) Alonso VS (7) Santana
Santana was the hometown slugger and the applause he got showed the fans support. He managed to hit 13 balls over the fence. Alonso got a much slower start, hitting only 2 home runs in the first 2 minutes. He got hot after this though, notching a few more, and 7 in the final minute. Alonso beat Santana, 14-13, in a walkoff with only 1 second left on the clock.
(3) Bell VS (6) Acuña
This was a great matchup, even though Bell was the Vegas favorite. Acuña came out firing, hitting balls over the fence in all parts of the field. He managed 23 in regulation, plus two more in bonus time. Bell got a slow start, but 5 dingers in the final minute brought him to 17 home runs. 8 is a lot to ask in a 30 second bonus, and Bell fell short hitting only one, and losing 25-18 to Ronald Acuña Jr.
(4) Bregman VS (5) Pederson
A slow start for Pederson was worrying at first, but after his time out, he got hot. Hitting the two 440+ foot bombs gave him the 30 seconds bonus where he put another five home runs up to get to 21. Bregman was able to tie the 16 home runs in regulation, but did not qualify for the bonus time, therefore, lost to Pederson, 21-16.
The Second Round Battle
(8) Guerrero VS (5) Pederson
In the second round, it was an epic battle between Joc Pederson and Vladimir. They each hit another 29 home runs in the second round, leading to a tie-breaker of 1 miute each to hit as many home runs as possible. They tied again on this each hitting 8 home runs, so a final tie breaker of 3 swings each ensued. Surpise, another tie as they each hit one dinger. Another 3 swing tie-breaker lead to Guerrero advancing to the finals. The two hit a total of 79 home runs in a single round. By the end of the round, Vlad had hit 40 home runs in addition to the 29 from the first round. All said and done, he finished the Derby with 91 total home runs. The previous record, by Giancarlo Stanton in 2016, was 61.
(2) Alonso VS (6) Acuña
This was another close one for Polar Bear Pete. Acuña continued his rampage of spraying the balls all over the park. If he could reach the ball, he was swinging. He put 18 over the fence in regulation and 1 more in the bonus. Once again, Alonso got off to a slower start, putting only 8 home runs up in the first 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Once again though, he took his timeout, got his head straight, and went on a tear. He rattled off 12 more home runs in less than 2 minutes, with the final ball clearing the fence as time expired to win 20-19.
The Final Round
Unfortunately, by the time the final round came, Vladimir had swung so much in the tie breakers that he was pretty well worn out. Guerrero hit 22 home runs in the final round, an impressive number after all the swings he took in tie-breakers. This wasn’t enough to hold off Pete, “The Polar Bear”, Alonso however, as he walked off his 23rd home run with 18 seconds to spare, winning 23-22. Alonso won all three of his rounds on walk-off home runs. Pete Alonso may have won the Home Run Derby Trophy, but hats off to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for that magnificent effort.
Note that in 2015, the format changed from an outs based Derby to the current timer based derby. This change has led to a number of improvements in hitting capabilities, so the new records are still quite fresh in the new system. I still don’t think Guerrero’s records will be beat for quite some time unless the rules change again.