Vlad youngest MVP after ASG HR for ages

July 14th, 2021

DENVER -- Tuesday night’s All-Star Game was one for the ages. Especially if that age is 22.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. became the youngest player ever to win Chevrolet All-Star Game MVP honors, leading the American League to a 5-2 victory over the National League at Coors Field.

“Dreams come true,” Guerrero Jr. said through a translator. “Since I was a kid, I was thinking about this moment. I’ve worked all my life very hard and a lot of it is happening right now.”

The first Blue Jays player ever to win All-Star MVP honors, Guerrero Jr. went 1-for-3 with a titanic home run and two RBIs, dedicating the award to his father -- Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr. -- as he accepted the trophy.

“I honestly just want to thank my dad,” Guerrero Jr. told FOX. “This is for you.”

Two years ago, Guerrero Jr. put on a power display during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby before ultimately falling to Pete Alonso in the finals. This year, the slugger -- who is still just 22 years, 119 days old -- waited for the All-Star Game to wow the crowd with a tape-measure shot, blasting a hanging slider from Corbin Burnes a whopping 468 feet to left-center.

“The one pitch to Vlad there was a slider that backed up a little bit,” Burnes said. “It could have been one of those Colorado sliders that got hit pretty good. But he’s a good hitter.”

“I don't know if he was sitting slider, but man, Burnesy’s a heck of a pitcher,” NL manager Dave Roberts said. “He got every bit of that baseball.”

He certainly did. The ball left his bat at 110.2 mph, obliterating the previous mark for the longest All-Star homer in the Statcast era, a distinction that had belonged to Kris Bryant and his 410-foot blast in the 2016 Midsummer Classic.

“What a shot; holy moly, that was a bomb,” Padres third baseman Manny Machado said. “The kid is special, man; what he's doing this year has been unbelievable to watch. To see it firsthand today, he put on a show.”

The home run wasn’t even the hardest ball Guerrero Jr. hit on Tuesday; his first-inning groundout -- a ball that nearly took off Max Scherzer’s head -- clocked in at 111.1 mph. After Scherzer dusted himself off, Guerrero Jr. ran to the mound to give the pitcher a hug and a smile.

“Yesterday at the Home Run Derby, we had a conversation and he was joking with me and said, ‘Hey, take it easy on me tomorrow,’” Guerrero Jr. said. “After the line drive, I just wanted to give him a hug.”

There were plenty of hugs after Guerrero’s third-inning moonshot, as Toronto teammates Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernández were the first players to welcome their fellow Blue Jay back to the AL dugout.

“Just excited for Vladdy,” Bichette said. “Hitting a home run in the All-Star Game is a pretty cool thing, but it wasn’t surprising. How far he hit it wasn't surprising, either. He’s amazing.”

The Guerreros are now the third father-son combo to both go deep in an All-Star Game, joining Bobby and Barry Bonds and Ken Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr., the latter of whom had been the youngest All-Star MVP at 22 years, 236 days when he won in 1992.

“Vladdy Sr. was very talented, but I think Vladdy Guerrero Jr. is going to probably pave his own way to being really special,” AL manager Kevin Cash said. “They can hit any pitch; if there’s one thing similar, they can handle any ball in the zone.”

Like Cash -- who has already seen Guerrero Jr. homer five times against his Rays this season -- Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers was able to celebrate his division-rival’s homer.

“If he hits it against my team during the regular season I can’t celebrate it,” Devers said through a translator. “Now, you can have fun with it.”

Guerrero Jr. added an RBI groundout in the fifth to finish his night. When the second half begins later this week, Guerrero Jr. will take the field leading the AL in batting average (.332) and RBIs (73), while his 28 home runs trail only Shohei Ohtani’s 33.

“Everybody is talking about how good he is and how good he’s going to be,” Cash said. “I'm not that thrilled that he's going to continue to be that good because he’s in our division, but getting to meet him and all these guys, so much appreciation and respect. Vladdy is a fun talent that we're all going to get to see for many years.”

Could Tuesday night’s All-Star MVP be a precursor to a Triple Crown or AL MVP honors?

“I don't think like that so much,” Guerrero Jr. said. “You don’t know; there could be ups and downs, but I don't want to think about that. I just want to keep continuing to keep working hard and we'll see what happens.”

Guerrero Jr. is excited to rejoin his Blue Jays teammates as they embark on a postseason push during the second half, but there are two in particular he can’t wait to see.

“I can't wait to get back to hear what Lourdes Gurriel and [George] Springer have to say about this,” Guerrero Jr, said. “Before I left, I made a promise to them that I was going to be the MVP. They said, ‘You better win MVP or don’t come here.’”

Time to go home.