The summer of Vlad Guerrero Jr. is here and his dingerific Home Run Derby show proved it
During the summer I turned 20, I worked at a Toys R Us distribution center. It wasn't a hard job. Just your standard data entry, and I only had to come in three days a week. For a short-term gig, it worked out pretty well. But -- shockingly -- I can't say it went as well as the summer of 20-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Some fans were surprised that baseball's mega prospect was asked to be in the Home Run Derby. He might be an elite prospect, but he's only hit eight homers since being called up. Here's the thing, though -- he has both the family genes for this kind of event, and he put in the work to crank out a special performance.
The crowd was ready for him ...
... and he put on quite a show:
Yeah, that definitely beats doing V-Lookups on Excel spreadsheets at a dank building in New Jersey.
It wasn't just that Guerrero was crushing bombs. He was doing it with such a ferocious intensity that it was almost scary to watch.
I can't imagine watching that as a pitcher in the American League and having to reckon with facing that for the better part of the next decade.
The spray chart was just merciless on the left-field pavilion at Progressive Field, including a 476-foot shot.
Fellow Blue Jays icon Jose Bautista would love that pull-happy righty power.
With 29 homers, Guerrero broke the all-time Home Run Derby record for most homers in a single round. Just before the event, the Rangers tweeted about that old mark, set by Josh Hamilton in his unforgettable outing at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008.
Vlad made them eat crow:
Oops. 🤐 https://t.co/c2jx45dxOi— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 9, 2019
The 29 homers were enough to take down Matt Chapman in the first round, but Guerrero met his match in the second round with Joc Pederson. Once more, Guerrero blew everyone away with 29 bombs ...
... but Pederson stunned the crowd by tying both him and the single-round record he just set with 29 of his own.
That forced the most incredible head-to-head in Home Run Derby history. Both sluggers crushed eight long balls in the extra minute given to them, and both hit exactly two homers on the subsequent swing-off.
It took a second swing-off for Guerrero to finally send Pederson home.
After an epic showdown like that, Guerrero had to give his foe an exhausted embrace.
In the finals, Guerrero faced Pete Alonso, who had turned in a terrific evening of his own against Ronald Acuna Jr. and Carlos Santana. It was a tough task and Guerrero was clearly drained, but he hit 22 homers anyway to bring his total for the entire Derby to an absurd 91.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit 91 HR tonight.— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) July 9, 2019
THAT'S 30 MORE THAN THE SINGLE-DERBY RECORD ENTERING TONIGHT.
Giancarlo Stanton had hit *just* 61 in 2016.
Alonso turned out to be too tough a challenge after all those previous homers. He belted 23 to take home the Home Run Derby crown.
Still, Guerrero's overall record of 91 in a Derby is what so many people are going to remember from this show. The summer of Vlad is truly upon us.
Best of all? Vlad's dad was watching and loved it all.
El muchacho tiene poder 👀 || Big boy has power.👀 #VG27— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) July 9, 2019
OMG ❗️❗️❗️— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) July 9, 2019
¡Gran esfuerzo mi hijo! ¡Orgulloso de ti! | Great work son! ¡I’m proud of you! #VG27— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) July 9, 2019
We're proud of him too, Vlad Sr.
Andrew Mearns is a writer for Cut4 whose baseball obsession was born from the shattered dreams of Mike Mussina's perfect game attempt in 2001. He has a startling memory of World Series highlights that barely functions as a party trick.