Blue Jays’ Vlad Guerrero Jr. wins thrilling 2023 Home Run Derby

Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won the 2023 Home Run Derby, beating Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena in a tense and thrilling final that came down to the wire.

Guerrero Jr., who conquered Arozarena 25-23 in the showdown, joins Vladimir Guerrero Sr. as the only father-son duo in Major League history to win a Home Run Derby.

Guerrero is the first Blue Jay in history to win the competition. He was runner-up in 2019 when Guerrero set a record for most overall homers in the derby with 91.

Guerrero’s 25 home runs set a finals record against Arozarena, beating New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso’s previous total of 23 last year.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider, who pitched to Guerrero in the derby, said his first baseman was consistent throughout despite showing some fatigue at times.

“I couldn’t be happier for Vlad,” Schneider said. “I did my best, he yanked a couple here and there, but he knows what he’s doing hitting homers.”

Guerrero hit 26 home runs in the first round of this year’s Home Run Derby, eliminating Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, who finished with 11.

The Blue Jays slugger went up against Seattle Mariners star Julio Rodriguez in the semi-finals. Rodriguez, the hometown favourite, was the star of the quarterfinals.

Rodriguez set the single-round home run record with 41 homers, topping Guerrero’s 40 home runs in 2019. The seventh-seeded Rodriguez, the runner-up last year after a dynamic performance, crushed No. 2 seed Alonso 41-21.

Guerrero would prevail by eliminating Rodriguez with 21 home runs to his 20.

The fourth-seeded Arozarena opened the competition with a 24-17 win over No. 5 Adolis Garcia of the Texas Rangers. The two are close friends and former St. Louis Cardinals minor-leaguers.

Arozarena beat Chicago White Sox outfielder and fellow Cuban Luis Robert Jr. 35-22 in the first semifinal.

Arozarena had 30 homers in his three-minute opening segment of the semis and then added five more in the one-minute bonus round.

Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, a native of nearby Portland, had the crowd buzzing, belting 21 homers hitting as a lefty in the three-minute opening round and then drilling seven of eight pitches out of the park as a righty in the 30-second bonus round.

The top-seeded Robert Jr. showcased almost effortless power, hitting 27 in his three-minute opening round and then two more in a 60-second bonus round (awarded for hitting two homers over 440 feet in the first round) to take the win in the second quarterfinal.

With files from Sportsnet

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