Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just did what no Blue Jay had ever done, take home All-Star Game MVP honours thanks to a monstrous home run.
Even when all the stars of Major League Baseball are assembled onto the same field, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. still finds a way to stand out.
The 91st MLB All-Star Game will be remembered principally for two things: Shohei Ohtani’s turn at taking the mound and leading off, and a mighty swing of the bat Guerrero unleashed on a hanging slider from Corbin Burnes in the third inning.
Guerrero’s homer, measured at 468 feet, landed in the patio above the left field seats at Coors Field. It was a shot that, coming in front of the entire baseball world, will only serve to elevate Guerrero’s stature as high as the ball traveled. Even Fernando Tatis Jr., another young star in his own right, was in disbelief while being interviewed for the Fox broadcast at the same time.
The players, league officials, and fans who haven’t gotten the opportunity to see the transformation Guerrero has made this year into arguably the most feared hitter in the game got a good look on Tuesday in Denver. The home run wasn’t even his hardest-hit ball of the night; that came in the first inning when a 111.1 mph liner to second nearly decapitated National League starting pitcher Max Scherzer.
Guerrero finished the game 1-3 with two RBI, taking home the crystal bat as the first Blue Jays player ever to win All-Star Game MVP honours. At the age of 22 years, 119 days, he’s the youngest All-Star MVP in the game’s history, surpassing Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. He’s only the second Blue Jay ever to homer in the Midsummer Classic, joining Roberto Alomar in 1993.
The company he’s most proud of, though, is what he shares with his father. Fifteen years ago, Guerrero Sr. homered in the All-Star Game off Brad Penny at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. The two Guerreros are different players; Senior’s homer came on a fastball that was almost head-high, emblematic of his free-swinging approach. His son is more patient, more in control of the strike zone, and ready to pounce on pitches like the slider Burnes threw him on Tuesday.
The Guerreros are the third father-son duo to each homer in the All-Star Game, joining Bobby and Barry Bonds, and the Griffeys. The younger Guerrero spent his childhood attending these events with his father; now he’s making his own history in them.
“He means a lot to me,” Guerrero said about his dad while accepting the MVP award from commissioner Rob Manfred. “He means the world to me and I just want to thank my dad. I just want to say thank you to him and, dad, this is for you.”
It was a family affair on the field as well. Guerrero was joined in Denver by three of his Blue Jays teammates, who each had a role to play in the American League’s 5-2 win. Marcus Semien, starting at second base, drove in the game’s first run on an infield single in the second inning. Teoscar Hernandez doubled in the fifth and later scored on a groundout by Guerrero. Bo Bichette got only one at-bat but did receive a standing ovation during pre-game introductions from the same crowd that cheered his dad for seven years.
Guerrero spent the first half of the season making a serious run at the Triple Crown. He currently leads the AL with 73 RBI and a .332 AVG, and is second with 28 home runs, behind only Ohtani. A star has been born in 2021, and on Tuesday night he got the opportunity to shine bright for all the baseball world to see.
Now it’s on to the second half of the season, where Guerrero, with some new hardware to add to his collection, will look to prove he’s just getting started.