Vladimir Guerrero Jr. outlasts Randy Arozarena, wins HR Derby

SEATTLE -- Four years after he set a single-round Home Run Derby record only to not win the title, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. bestowed the same fate on someone else -- and added to his family's rich legacy in the process.

The son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, participating in the Derby at his family's urging, ousted hometown favorite Julio Rodriguez after a record-setting performance and outlasted Randy Arozarena in the finals to win the Derby on Monday night -- 16 years after his father did the same.

"When my family pushes me to do something," the younger Guerrero said, "usually good things happen."

In 2019, the then-20-year-old Guerrero, a star first baseman with the Toronto Blue Jays, put on a show in his Derby debut, hitting a record 40 home runs in the second round and 91 overall. But he fell in the finals to Pete Alonso of the New York Mets.

After watching his single-round record eclipsed Monday by the Seattle Mariners' Rodriguez -- who sent the T-Mobile Park crowd of 46,952 into a frenzy with 41 homers in the first-round to bounce Alonso -- Guerrero calmly dispatched a worn-down Rodriguez, who mustered only 20 home runs in Round 2.

"I wanted to live in the moment," Rodriguez said. "Kind of be able to give a show to the Mariners fans and just give it my all. For that second round, I was just" -- he exhaled deeply -- "but it was fun. It was fun."

Fun abounded in the 37th edition of the Derby, from Rodriguez's laser show to Guerrero's pointed counterpunching to Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman becoming the first batter to swing from both sides of the plate -- and punctuating his 27-homer round with six shots from the right side landing over the fence after hitting 21 from the left. Rutschman soon bowed out to top-seeded Luis Robert Jr., paving the way for the J-Rod show.

With the crowd chanting his name and using a yellow-painted bat that stung balls with the precision of the bumblebee it resembled, Rodriguez hit more than 3 miles of home runs in the first round -- 16,556 feet total.

"I thought I put on a good show and just unfortunately ran into a buzz saw," said Alonso, who hit 22 home runs to Rodriguez's 41. "He had a ridiculously historic round. I mean, that was incredible to watch. Good for him, and good for Seattle."

As Guerrero, a fellow native of the Dominican Republic, added about Rodriguez: "I knew he was going to do that. We talked before, and you could tell that he really wanted to win. I mean, he put a lot of work in this. But, you know, it happened."

What happened, specifically, was Vlad being Vlad. He calmly stepped up. After Rodriguez finished the second round with 20 home runs, Guerrero topped him with 21. Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays vanquished the Chicago White Sox's Robert in the semifinals.

Guerrero awaited Arozarena not with any lessons learned from 2019 but rather a tough-to-swallow reality that left Guerrero exhausted in the wake of his eventual win.

"Everybody was telling me to calm down, to slow down, but you just can't," Guerrero said. "You just can't. You just got to continue to hit homers."

Homer he did, hitting 25 and bringing his total on the night to 72.

Arozarena started slow in the finals but picked it up toward the end of regulation to register 21 home runs. In 30 seconds of bonus time, Arozarena mustered only two more homers -- and Guerrero hoisted the trophy, won a chain with a spinning pendant and took home a $1 million prize.

Guerrero also joined his father, who in 2007 won the Derby at the All-Star Game in San Francisco, as the first father-son duo to accomplish the feat. Guerrero was 8 years old when his dad took home the trophy, saying, "I don't remember much about 2007." However, he added, "I feel very happy, very proud that my father and I both won the Derby."

While Guerrero was skeptical about participating in future Derbies -- "The way I feel, it's not too good right now," he admitted -- he was perfectly content to appreciate and enjoy this one. He survived the Derby's first true switch-hitter. He toppled the slugger who stole his record. And at the ripe old age of 24, without quite the endurance of a few years back, he emerged victorious.

"Honestly, I feel tired," Guerrero said. "But I feel happy."