DENVER – After being the best prospect in baseball and projected to rise to the heights of his father — a Hall of Famer — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put up some pretty regular numbers in his first two major league seasons with the Blue Jays.
In his first 183 games in the majors, the Dominican hit .269 / .336 / .442 (.778 OPS) with 39 doubles, 24 home runs and 109 OPS +, or just nine points above the league average. In addition, his defense at third base was such that Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo moved him to the first pad and designated hitter position for 2020.
For Guerrero Jr., son of Vladimir Guerrero — inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018 after an illustrious 16-year career in the majors — his first two seasons were not satisfactory. He got into better physical shape last winter, playing 10 games in the Dominican League with the Leones del Escogido and arriving well prepared for training with the Blue Jays.
“The criticism,” Guerrero said when speaking of the motivation to get in better shape. “And I knew that that was not the real player, the one I was teaching. So, I started to work hard and everything went well ”.
Yes, it went well. Guerrero Jr. has been in this 2021 what we had all expected. With the same hard contact as always, but raising the ball higher and making better decisions at the plate around pitching selection, the Quisqueyano reached the All-Star break with a line of .332 / .430 / .658, 28 home runs, 73 RBIs (1,089 OPS) and 193 OPS +.
With these numbers, Guerrero Jr. is the major league leader in average, on-base percentage, RBIs and OPS. If it weren’t for the colossal season Shohei Ohtani is having, Vlad Jr. would be at the top of almost every other offensive department in MLB.
Speaking of Ohtani, the Japanese leads the majors in home runs with 33 and in slugging with .698. Many have wanted to emphasize the home run fight between Ohtani and Guerrero Jr., but the latter — as always — is short on it.
“He’s doing his job and I’m doing mine,” said Guerrero Jr., who two years ago put on his own show at the Home Run Festival with a record 91 hits. “I have always said that I am not looking for anyone’s numbers. He’s putting his and I’m putting mine ”.
ALL-STAR: AS A CHILD AND NOW AS A PLAYER
We all remember how Guerrero Jr. accompanied his dad on All-Star Games when he was little. Now, on his own, he has completed the cycle: He has been part of the Future All-Star Game (2017), the Home Run Festival (2019) and the All-Star Game itself.
“It is a very special moment,” he said about it. “Since I was little, I dreamed of this and I am already here.
“It’s a very good thing to do what my dad did. I feel very happy about that ”.