While beating your opponent is the most important thing in professional sports, there’s nothing wrong with a healthy competition between teammates. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette should have just that for years to come.
The Blue Jays are just 4-11 over their last 15 games, but that shouldn’t come as a disappointment or even much of a surprise for the fan base. The reality is, they’ve played some really good teams lately in the Braves, Astros, Dodgers, and even the Mariners, who have played some good baseball over the last few weeks.
As disappointing as the win-loss column has been, all hasn’t been lost for the Blue Jays, especially because the 2019 season is clearly about rebuilding. To that end there have been a lot of positive developments, and likely none more significant or exciting than the great play of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette lately.
The dynamic duo made a name for themselves back in A-ball a few years ago when they teamed up to crush their competition, and quickly moved up together to High-A Dunedin in 2017. Vlad Jr. progressed at a more rapid rate in 2018, and Bichette also dealt with an injury this season, which lead to them being separated for different periods over the last couple of seasons. However, now that they’re back together in Toronto I think both players are better for it.
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First of all, there’s no doubt that this young team has chemistry, and why wouldn’t they? Many of these guys have played together over the last few seasons, and have battled through the trenches of the minor league system. Even if most of their stays weren’t that long, there was definitely opportunity for guys like Guerrero Jr. and Bichette to bond together, and also with teammates like Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and several others. Now that they’ve achieved their goal of reaching the big leagues together, the next step is to bring their winning ways to the Blue Jays.
For Bichette and Guerrero Jr., I believe that it goes beyond just having a solid clubhouse and a good team chemistry. With these two in particular, I believe there’s going to be a friendly competition that brings out the best in them for years to come, and that it’ll work beautifully in the Blue Jays’ favour.
Guerrero Jr. has been surrounded with hype since he was signed as an international free agent as a 16-year-old. He’s backed up the hype with his performance throughout every step of the minor leagues, and having a Hall of Famer for a father certainly didn’t lessen the attention that came his way either. He’s been destined to be a media darling since he was a teenager, and even as a 20-year-old he’s shown a lot of maturity and poise. All of that makes for a great face of the franchise, and the Blue Jays have treated him that way throughout his minor league development.
I don’t expect there to be any animosity between the two of them, but Bichette doesn’t strike me as the type to be satisfied playing second fiddle to anyone. He’s taken the league by storm since he arrived in Toronto, breaking records on a weekly basis and putting the league on notice. Every player dreams of doing just that when they’re called up, but I believe that Bichette has something else to prove with a chip on his shoulder. He wants us to know that the Blue Jays have more than one superstar on their roster.
His presence has brought out the best in Guerrero Jr. so far as well, even if that’s a coincidence or more a result of having half a season worth of experience against big leaguers. All I know is that since Bichette played his first game on July 29th, Vlad Jr. has slashed .330/.395/.563 with five home runs, seven doubles, and 21 RBI over 114 plate appearances, striking out 16 times and drawing 10 walks. He’s figured out a few things after a few months in the big leagues, and he isn’t going to hand over the spotlight that easily.
Excellence can be an infectious thing in a clubhouse, and while it hasn’t worked that well for Mike Trout in L.A. over the years, I believe it’ll help the Blue Jays during this rebuild. This is a young core that has been brought along together, and they’ve had a lot of success as a group. That comes from pushing each other, both directly and indirectly, and it starts from the top.
Fortunately, the Blue Jays have a dynamic duo that should lead this team for at least the next six seasons, and hopefully beyond that. Having more than one star is important in the big leagues these days, and for the Guerrero Jr. and Bichette, I believe it’ll bring out the best in both of them.