Guerrero Shows He May Be MLB's Next Superstar After HR Derby
Blue Jays 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s performance in last night's T-Mobile MLB Home Run Derby marked the point in time when "one of baseball’s most hyped young prospects became one of the game’s biggest stars," according to Mike Oz of YAHOO SPORTS. Mets 1B Pete Alonso actually won the event by defeating Guerrero in the finals, but Guerrero "won our hearts" on his "way to becoming The Peoples’ Champ." Alonso "got the prizes and the history book, but Vlad Jr. damn sure got the glory" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/9). In Toronto, Gregor Chisholm writes last night was a "breakout performance for Guerrero on one of the biggest stages" (TORONTO STAR, 7/9). SPORTSNET.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith writes under the header, "Blue Jays’ Vlad Guerrero Jr. Emerges As True MLB Star In Home Run Derby." He showed himself to be "one of the game’s most exciting young players for fans watching worldwide" (SPORTSNET.ca, 7/9). THE ATHLETIC's Jayson Stark writes the Home Run Derby "may have been the night a legend was born." Astros 3B Alex Bregman said of Guerrero, "He just showed the world he’s coming. He’ll be a superstar in this game for a long time" (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/9). USA TODAY's Jesse Yomtov writes, "Under the bright lights, on national television, the Derby was a stage meant for a transcendent talent like Guerrero. And boy, did he deliver" (USATODAY.com, 7/9). THE RINGER's Danny Heifetz predicts Guerrero will "likely be one of the 10 most famous MLB players by the end of the week, and he is uniquely suited to rekindle our love for baseball" (THERINGER.com, 7/9).
FIREWORKS ON DISPLAY: MLB.com's Andrew Mearns noted Alonso hit 23 home runs in the final round, but Guerrero's overall record of 91 in a Derby is "what so many people are going to remember from this show" (MLB.com, 7/8). In Toronto, Rob Longley writes other than Guerrero missing out on the $1M first prize, it is "almost as if losing 23-22 in the final didn’t matter, it was that impressive" (TORONTO SUN, 7/9). The AP's Tom Withers writes those in attendance at Progressive Field were "treated to a power display unlike any in the event’s history." Guerrero "electrified a crowd of 36,199 fans while also destroying an on-field camera with one of the balls he didn’t crush over the wall" (AP, 7/9). ESPN's Mike Golic Jr.: "Vlad Guerrero Jr. gave us what we wanted, which was a fun night" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 7/9). In N.Y., Bradford Davis notes besides "hitting the most home runs of the eight contestants," Guerrero also "hit the hardest and furthest bombs all night, at 117 mph and 488 ft, respectively" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/9). ESPN's Mark Teixeira: "A lot of people were saying, 'Why is Vlad Guerrero Jr. in this game? He's not an All-Star.' This is why he's here, and he's putting on an absolute display here" ("2019 MLB Home Run Derby," ESPN, 7/8).
ONE-TWO PUNCH: ESPN.com's David Schoenfield noted Guerrero in the second round beat Dodgers LF Joc Pederson in the "most epic single-round showdown in Home Run Derby history, a battle that required three tie-breaker rounds before Guerrero held on to win 40 to 39." Everyone will "remember the Guerrero-Pederson matchup for the ages" (ESPN.com, 7/8). CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Snyder writes it was the "best head-to-head matchup in the history of the Home Run Derby and I'm not sure anything else is even in the same ballpark" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/9). MLB.com's Richard Justice wrote it was "one of the most memorable showdowns in the history" of the event (MLB.com, 7/8). In DC, Sheinin & Fortier writes the Guerrero-Pederson duel will "very likely surpass in sheer, unadulterated drama anything that might happen" tonight in the All-Star Game (WASHINGTON POST, 7/9).
WHY WE WATCH: In Louisville, David Harten writes fans were reminded last night "why the Home Run Derby is still one of the best parts of sports in the summer." The "raw power displayed" by the eight-man field was "insane to watch." Harten: "The game can be boring. It has its issues. But on Monday night, it wasn't boring. It was awe-inspiring" (COURIER-JOURNAL.com, 7/9). SI.com's Matt Martell wrote, "Regardless of what we say about the spike in home runs this season, there remains an undeniable thrill for fans when we see great hitters crush dingers" (SI.com, 7/8).