SEATTLE (AP) — Of course a Junior had to do something special in Seattle.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night, matching Vladimir Sr.’s 2007 title to become the first father-son duo to accomplish the feat.
As far as who might win a head-to-head swing-off, well, that depends.
“It’s kind of difficult right now,” the Toronto Blue Jays star said with a wide grin, speaking through a translator. “With the time, with the minutes, I’ll win. If it’s by outs, he’ll win.”
In a ballpark made famous by the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. a generation earlier, Guerrero beat Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena 25-23 in the final round. He was 8 when his father won the crown in San Francisco.
“I don’t remember much about 2007,” Vladimir Jr. said. “I guess I was too young.”
Guerrero totaled 5 1/2 miles of homers — 29,390 feet to be exact. He defeated Julio Rodríguez 21-20 in the semifinals after the Mariners star hit a record 41 in the first round in front of his hometown fans.
Batting against Blue Jays manager John Schneider, Guerrero was the last semifinalist to swing and the first finalist, setting a final round record for homers to top the mark Pete Alonso set when he beat Guerrero 23-22 in 2019.
With Guerrero Jr. catching his breath while watching, Arozarena hit against Tampa Bay field coordinator Tomas Francisco. Arozarena had 21 homers in his initial 2 minutes. He had 23 with 7 seconds left in his automatic 30 seconds of bonus time before lining and popping up on his final four swings.
Guerrero had 1 minute of bonus time, earning an additional 30 seconds because he twice reached 440 feet.
“Obviously, the power that he has was incredible,” Arozarena said through a translator. “For me, I felt good going into that round. But also he was able to get a minute of bonus time. I only had the 30 seconds of bonus time.”
Vladimir Guerrero Sr. won the 2007 derby while with the Los Angeles Angels, beating the Blue Jays’ Alex Rios 3-2 in the final.
Arozarena had the most overall homers over the three rounds, 82 to Guerrero’s 72, and the most distance at 33,077 feet. Arozarena overcame Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox 35-22 in the semifinals. Robert hit the longest drive of the night, a 484-foot shot to left in the second round. That topped the high of 476 feet by Barry Bonds in the 2001 derby in Seattle.
Trying to become the youngest Derby winner at age 22, Rodríguez knocked out Alonso, a two-time champion who hit 21. Rodríguez beat Corey Seager 32-24 in the first round last year at Dodger Stadium, then knocked out Alonso 31-23 before losing to Juan Soto 19-18 in the final.
Arozarena beat Texas’ Adolis García 24-17 in the opening pairing before a crowd of 46,952 at T-Mobile Park. García is the godfather to Arozarena’s daughter, and the two jumped into each other’s arms during warmups.
Robert knocked out Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman 28-27 in the opening round. Rutschman hit 21 left-handed, and the switch hitter then turned around to the right side and hit six more right-handed during a 30-second bonus round. From Portland, Oregon, Rutschman grew up attending Mariners games.
Guerrero, back for the first time in four years, defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts 26-11 in the first round. Four years ago at Cleveland, Guerrero hit 29 in the first round and 40 in the second, then lost to Alonso in the final.
Alonso was trying for his third title in four years. Griffey Jr. is the only three-time winner, taking the title in 1994, ’98 and ‘99.
Guerrero Sr. was a nine-time All-Star but never won a World Series. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.
Guerrero Jr. is a three-time All-Star and was MVP of the game two years ago in Denver. What’s in the future? A World Series ring? Joining dad in the Hall?
“I’m a little bit too young to think about that right now,” he said. “When I get there, then I’ll think about it, I’ll see if I match my dad or was better than my dad or not.”
AP Photo Lindsey Wasson