CLEVELAND — It is fair to say that baseball is in Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s genes, and he did the family name and his Hall of Fame father proud in a record-setting performance in the first round of the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby at Progressive Field in Cleveland Monday night.
After an early timeout in the round following a slow start, Guerrero Jr. went on a tear and totaled 24 home runs before having 30 seconds of bonus time added. Guerrero Jr. put that time to good use, as he belted five more for a record total of 29 home runs.
Guerrero Jr. entered the 2019 Home Run Derby as the No. 8 seed because of his low regular-season total, as he has hit just eight home runs since being called up from Triple-A by the Toronto Blue Jays early in the 2019 season, but he put on a display that drew a standing ovation from fans and hugs from his American League teammates.
Guerrero Jr.’s average home run distance was 422 feet, and his longest was the furthest of the first two pairings, as it covered 476 feet.
Guerrero Jr. broke the old record, which was set by Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton. Memorably, Hamilton hit 28 home runs, several of which flirted with leaving the stadium grounds, in the first round of the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium in New York City.
In addition to the single-round record, Guerrero Jr. became the youngest participant in the 34-year history of the Home Run Derby. Guerrero Jr. (20 years, 114 days) bested the mark set by Hall of Fame center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. (20 years, 230 days) in 1990.
With the 29 home runs, Guerrero Jr. advanced to the second round over Oakland Athletics slugger Matt Chapman, who was a late addition to the field when Milwaukee Brewers star Christian Yelich bowed out of the competition.