Vladimir Guerrero Jr. powers AL to eighth straight All-Star Game win

DENVER — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is just 22 years old, yet already well-versed in fulfilling destinies. It is now Guerrero, not his Hall of Fame father, dominating the American League, as so many imagined when Vladito was just a kid in oversized shorts tailing his dad around the ballyard. And after a first half in which he slammed 28 home runs and led the major leagues in batting and OPS, vaulting him to his first All-Star Game, he made a promise to Blue Jays teammates Lourdes Gurriel and George Springer: That he’d come home with the game’s MVP trophy. After slamming a pitch 468 feet through Colorado’s thin air and boosting the AL to a 5-2 victory over the National League, it’s worth noting whatever this 6-2, 250-pound barrel of power and joy might next aim to achieve.

“Dreams come true,” Guerrero said, the game’s MVP trophy riding shotgun on the postgame podium. “Since I was a kid, I’ve always been thinking about this moment. “I’ve worked all my life very hard, and thank God it’s happening now.” Major League Baseball might say the same about Guerrero, Shohei Ohtani, and a gaggle of other players who have provided a balm for the game after a pandemic-wracked 2020 and a transitional period in the game that has industry leaders and fans seemingly on perpetual alert. On this night, the most important stars shone brightest.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Ohtani made history, earning the victory with a flawless first inning of work and grounding out twice, fulfilling his superlative as the first player in baseball history to reach All-Star selections as a hitter and pitcher. Guerrero nearly beheaded, then hugged, a surefire Hall of Famer. Along with a pitching staff that allowed just eight hits, that was enough for the AL to register its eighth consecutive All-Star triumph over the NL and 15th in the last 18 games. Guerrero captured the buzz while the stage was set for two-way legend Ohtani.

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At 22 years and 119 days, Guerrero became the youngest to be named MVP of the All-Star Game. Ken Griffey Jr. was 22 years and 236 days old when he won the award in 1992. After Ohtani led off the game with a groundout, Guerrero, the Toronto Blue Jays’ slugger whose 28 first-half homers were second to Ohtani’s 33, unloaded on a pitch from Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer. It was 111.1 mph off the bat and just inches from Scherzer’s head. The sequence might have inspired Mad Max to stomp a couple of laps around the man in the regular season.

In this exhibition, he accepted Guerrero’s loving embrace on returning to the dugout. “I’m alive,” Scherzer, famously heterochromatic, said after his scoreless inning. “That’s the success story. I’m just grateful I still have blue and brown eyes.” Said Guerrero: “At the Home Run Derby, he was joking with me and said, hey, take it easy on me tomorrow. After the line drive, I just wanted to hug him.” Guerrero’s average exit velocity of 95.2 mph ranks second in the majors, and nobody’s hit more than the 45 balls of at least 110 mph he struck in the first half.

His first rocket nearly damaged Scherzer; his second just damaged the NL. Guerrero blasted a Corbin Burnes pitch 468 feet to left field in the third inning, giving the AL a 2-0 lead, sending a murmur through the Coors Field crowd, and inspiring a drive-by exchange with Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., his fellow second-generation superstar. He’d later drive in Blue Jays teammate Teoscar Hernandez with an RBI groundout, while Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino clobbered a home run off Mets right-hander Taijuan Walker. Angels outfielder Jared Walsh – playing left field for the first time as a major leaguer – ended the last serious threat, making a nifty sliding catch of a sinking Kris Bryant line drive to bail Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes out of a bases-loaded situation in the eighth.

Ohtani? He made some memories of his own, pitching a scoreless first inning, grounding out twice, and reveling in the experience a day after his Home Run Derby debut. On Tuesday, segueing from the batter’s box to the pitcher’s mound looked so simple. His colleagues know better. “We’re all still in awe of his ability to do that,” said AL and Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash. “The way he handled everything was pretty remarkable.” The same could be said for Guerrero, who has largely been tasked with becoming a Blue Jays cornerstone since they signed him as a 16-year-old in 2015. The climb was quick, but the final leap to superstar took a moment – took a moment – Guerrero dropped more than 40 pounds last winter after a weight gain during baseball’s COVID-19 shutdown.

The game isn’t back. This 91st All-Star Game showed it’s in very good hands. “There’s a lot of stuff we’re coming out of, with the pandemic,” says Cash. (Ohtani’s) talent, to get baseball going again was a big part of it. He and Vladdy Guerrero Jr. have so much on their plate. How they handle it with humility and class stands out.” The audience appreciates it: Ohtani’s every movement was greeted raucously by the 49,000 fans packing Coors Field on Monday and Tuesday nights. “I was simply thankful for all the cheers and all the support I get,” he said. The most meaningful support Tuesday came from a hard-hitting machine they call Vladito.


I have always enjoyed writing and reading other people's blogs. I started writing a journal as a teenager and have since written numerous books and articles. My blog is a place where I can write freely about my personal interests and those of others.

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