Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wins the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby over Randy Arozarena

It is finally Vladimir Guerrero's time of fame at the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. receives home run trophy from Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. receives home run trophy from Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

It had been four years in the making after Toronto Blue Jays’ superstar Vladimir Guerrero Jr. fell just short in 2019 to capture the 2019 Home Run Derby title. Many would remember his epic battle with Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the semifinal, as they matched each other homer for homer, until Guerrero finally prevailed. But all was for naught as in the final round, with exhaustion kicking in eventually, he lost out to Pete Alonso of the New York Mets for the home run crown, despite setting a Home Run Derby record with 91 total home runs in the process.

Well, fast forward now to 2023, as Guerrero once again entered the big stage in his vengeance tour to capture the Home Run Derby title that had once eluded him. His first round opponent, Mookie Betts of the Dodgers, turned out to be no match for the mammoth as Guerrero easily won 26-11.

But things weren’t going to get any easier for Guerrero, as he had to face hometown hero Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners with the entire crowd on his side in the semifinals. After all, Rodriguez had just set a Home Run Derby single round record in the first round, mashing a total of 41 home runs to defeat two-time champion Pete Alonso of the Mets. Perhaps nerves and fatigue finally caught up to Rodriguez, as he has a somewhat disappointing showing in the semifinals, losing 21-20 to Guerrero, and paving the way for Vladdy to once again to have his shot at the home run crown.

This time for the finals, Guerrero was up against Tampa Bay Rays’ sensation Randy Arozarena, who had dispatched top-seeded Luis Robert Jr. of the Chicago White Sox in the semifinal round with a convincing 35-22 win. Guerrero was up first, despite just finishing his semifinal round, so odds were against him that perhaps fatigue may play a factor. However, his hunger and determination made sure fatigue was no longer a term found in his dictionary, as he went on to belt 25 home runs, setting the mark for Arozarena to beat. For Arozarena, he had been resting for over 45 minutes since his last matchup, so for him, perhaps rust and stiffness may work against his favour.

Nevertheless, Arozarena made it close, but came up just short with 23 home runs in total, fulfilling Guerrero’s dream of finally meeting destiny and capturing the Home Run Derby title. In the process, Guerrero also set the record for most home runs in a final round with 25, and also becomes the first father-and-son combo to win the Home Run Derby, with Vladimir Guerrero Sr. accomplishing the feat back in 2007.

Here, we tip our hats to Vladdy for coming through with what he was focussed on winning, and hopefully this determination and focus is the exact sign of things to come for him and the Blue Jays as they enter the second half of the season with their eyes on the big prize.