Posted on: July 11, 2023, 10:07h. Last updated on: July 11, 2023, 10:21h.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. emerged triumphant in the 2023 Home Run Derby, held at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. As a slugger for the Toronto Blue Jays, Guerrero Jr. made history by becoming part of the first father and son duo to win the popular contest. Guerrero Jr., the champion of the 2023 Home Run Derby, posed with the winner’s trophy in Seattle. (Image: AP)
Guerrero Jr. entered this year’s Home Run Derby as the second favorite according to DraftKings’ prop betting board, with +370 odds. The consensus favorite, with +320 odds, was two-time champion Pete Alonso from the Mets. Reflecting on his victory, Guerrero Jr. remarked, “When my family pushes me to do something, usually good things happen.” This was Guerrero Jr.’s second time participating in the derby, having previously competed in 2019. Although he smashed 91 home runs during that contest, he ultimately lost to Alonso in the final round.
Vladimir Guerrero won the 2007 Home Run Derby during MLB’s All-Star festivities at AT&T Park in San Francisco. He played as a right fielder for the Anaheim Angels during the 2007 season. Over the course of his impressive 16-season career, which spanned four teams, Guerrero hit 449 home runs and drove in 1,496 RBI, with a slashline of .318/.379/.553. In 2018, Guerrero was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
In the first round of the 2023 Home Run Derby, Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman set a record by hitting 27 home runs from both sides of the plate. Chicago White Sox centerfielder Luis Robert Jr., the #1 seed, advanced to the semifinals by hitting 28 home runs. Alonso, seeking revenge after being eliminated by Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez in the previous year’s derby, could only manage to hit 21 home runs as the #2 seed. Rodriguez, the #7 seed, astonished the crowd with a remarkable performance, setting a new derby record by hitting 41 home runs in the first round. This marked the second year in a row that Rodriguez knocked out two-time champion Alonso.
Mookie Betts from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the #3 seed, entered the first round as an underdog against #6 Guerrero Jr., who was a sizable favorite. In the end, Betts hit only 11 home runs, while Guerrero Jr. easily advanced to the next round with 26 home runs. In the battle between two close friends and fellow Cubans, #5 Randy Arozarena from the Tampa Bay Rays faced off against #4 Adolis Garcia from the Texas Rangers. Although Garcia was favored to win the round, he struggled and hit only 17 home runs. Arozarena, after a slow start, hit 24 home runs to move on to the next round.
Heading into the semifinals, Rodriguez became the new betting favorite to win the Home Run Derby, with +100 odds. He was ahead of Robert (+280), Guerrero Jr. (+290), and Arozarena (+600). Rodriguez exerted all his energy in the first round, hitting an impressive 41 home runs. However, he appeared tired in the second round and connected on only 20 home runs. Guerrero Jr. needed just 21 home runs to advance to the finals and eliminate Rodriguez.
Arozarena defeated Robert in the semifinals to secure a spot in the finals. Robert hit 22 home runs, which paled in comparison to Arozarena’s incredible second-round performance of 35 home runs. It was the second-highest number of homers in this year’s contest.
The final matchup featured one of the favorites, Guerrero Jr., and one of the underdogs, Arozarena. Guerrero Jr. had +370 odds entering the derby, making him the second favorite, while Arozarena had +1100 odds, making him the second-highest underdog. At the start of the semifinals, Arozarena was again an underdog among the final four, with +600 odds. With his manager, John Schneider, pitching to him, Guerrero finished this year’s derby with 72 home runs. His total for the entire contest was set at 44.5 over/under, and he easily surpassed that mark. Arozarena connected on a total of 82 home runs but couldn’t outperform Guerrero Jr. in the final round. Oddsmakers set Arozarena’s total at 28.5 over/under, and the over comfortably hit.
After the final round, Guerrero Jr. expressed his tiredness but also his happiness, stating, “I feel tired, but I feel happy.” While he was present at the ballpark in San Francisco when his father won the 2007 Home Run Derby, Guerrero Jr. was only eight years old at the time. Reflecting on that moment, he said, “I don’t remember much about 2007. I feel very happy, very proud that my father and I both won the Derby.” According to a DraftKings prop bet, defeating Arozarena in the finals with Guerrero Jr. paid out +1100 odds. If Arozarena had pulled off the upset, that prop bet would have paid out +4000 odds.