From record distances to hometown feats, this Derby had it all

July 11th, 2023

On Monday night at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made history in more ways than one by winning the 2023 T-Mobile Home Run Derby title. Randy Arozarena pushed him to the limit in a highly impressive runner-up performance. Julio Rodríguez authored a sensational opening round in front of a raucous hometown crowd. And Adley Rutschman pulled off an unforgettable first-round switcheroo.

In other words, it was an eventful night. And how about this as a capper: The eight sluggers who squared off as a prelude to Tuesday night’s All-Star Game hit for a marathon. Yes, a marathon. More on that eye-popping achievement below, along with 18 other amazing Derby facts.

Going the distance

- The eight contestants on Monday night combined for a whopping 341 home runs, smashing the previous record of 312 set in 2019. How can we quantify 341 homers? That’s more than MLB’s two most homer-happy teams, the Braves and Dodgers, combined to hit in the entire first half of the season (318). The single-season team record is 307, set by the Twins in 2019.

- And how far did those homers fly? Try a combined distance of 138,723 feet. That comes out to 26.27 miles -- also known as … slightly more than a marathon (26.2).

- To put that in the context of a famous Seattle landmark, you would have to put 230 Space Needles end to end to beat that distance.

Like father, like son

- Vlad Jr. joined his Hall of Fame father, Vlad Sr., as a Home Run Derby champion, which makes them the only father-son duo to both win Home Run Derby titles. The older Guerrero won the 2007 Derby in San Francisco as a member of the Angels, when his son was eight years old.

- Vlad Sr. defeated Alex Rios in the finals of that Home Run Derby, 3-2, and totaled 17 home runs in the contest. Vlad Jr. eclipsed that total in each of his individual rounds in 2023, albeit under different rules.

- Guerrero set a record for the most home runs in a final round of the Home Run Derby with his 25. That surpassed the 23 home runs Pete Alonso hit in the final round of each of his Derby championships in 2019 and 2021 -- the first of those was to defeat Vlad Jr.

- Guerrero became the first Blue Jays player to win the Derby, avenging three runner-up finishes: his own in 2019, Jose Bautista’s in 2012 and Rios’ in 2007. This was Toronto’s 17th time with a Derby representative, and the franchise now becomes the 20th with at least one Derby title.

- Guerrero’s win means that East Division teams continue to dominate the Derby. Each of the past seven Derby titles going back to 2016 has been won by a player from either the AL East (two) or NL East (five). The last Central or West player to win was the Reds’ Todd Frazier in 2015.

A more-than-worthy challenger

- Arozarena was the first Rays player to participate in the Derby since Carlos Peña in 2009 and just the third in franchise history. When Arozarena beat out good friend Adolis García in the first round, he became the first Rays representative to escape the opening round of the tournament.

- Arozarena knocked out No. 1 seed Luis Robert Jr. in the semifinals next, taking down a fellow native of Cuba for the second straight round. His 35 big flies there tied for the fourth most in a single round in Derby history. With Arozarena coming up short in the finals, though, Yoenis Céspedes (2013-14) remains the only Cuban champion.

- Arozarena led all competitors with 82 home runs on the night, the second most by a player in a single Derby. Coincidentally, the record is held by Guerrero, who also came up short of the title while hitting 91 in 2019.

The hometown hero

- Rodríguez put on a jaw-dropping display in the opening round. J-Rod blasted 41 home runs to set a single-round record for a Home Run Derby -- breaking Guerrero’s mark of 40 set in the semifinals in 2019. The Mariners' hometown All-Star used that record-setting performance to knock two-time Derby champion Alonso out of the competition for a second year in a row before ultimately falling to Guerrero.

- Rodríguez is now responsible for three of the eight rounds of at least 30 homers in Home Run Derby history. (All of those rounds have come since 2019, reflecting the switch to a more homer-friendly format). No other player has more than one 30-homer round.

- How locked in was J-Rod right from the start? He homered on 10 of his first 11 swings, with less than one minute going off the clock. He also took advantage of his one-minute bonus period, crushing nine more homers to get to 41.

The best from the rest

- Rutschman put on quite a show in the first round, popping 27 home runs before being surpassed by Robert. The first 21 came left-handed, but Rutschman turned around to bat righty for the 30-second bonus time period and added six more to his total. Rutschman was the only switch-hitter in the event, as well as the only player to bat left-handed. The Derby still has never had a switch-hitter win the title outright, although Ruben Sierra was a co-champion alongside Eric Davis way back in 1989.

- Some more history that Rutschman could not overcome despite his best efforts: No catcher has ever won a Derby.

- The bad news for Alonso? He fell in the first round, thanks to a superhuman effort from Rodríguez, preventing him from tying Ken Griffey Jr.’s record of three career Derby titles. The consolation prize? With 21 dingers of his own, Alonso added to his record career total in the Derby -- aided of course by the rule changes. The Polar Bear now has gone deep 195 times in four Derby appearances, 32 ahead of Guerrero (163 in two appearances). Rodríguez is now third with 142 Derby homers in two appearances.

-Despite being knocked out in the semifinal round by Arozarena, Robert hit the six longest home runs in the Derby, including a monstrous 484-foot homer in the second round. His 421-foot average home run distance was the best of any of the contestants while his 11 home runs hit 440-plus feet were tied for the most with Vlad Jr.

- Mookie Betts made his Derby debut and fell to Guerrero in the first round, 26-11. As such, the Dodgers still do not have a Derby champion in their history, with only Joc Pederson in 2015 making it to the final round. L.A. is one of 10 teams still without a Derby title, with the Blue Jays falling off the list. The others? The Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Guardians, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Rockies and Royals.