The presence of several strong young Blue Jay leaders is a very good thing. It likely also means that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can focus on leading by example.
A few years ago the Blue Jays were a veteran team with a lot of strong leadership. It always felt like it was Jose Bautista‘s team in a way, but with others like Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and more, the Jays never lacked for veteran voices in the clubhouse.
A lot has changed over the last few years, especially in the composition of the roster. In fact, other than a returning Matt Shoemaker and a few new faces that were added to the team over the off-season, the Blue Jays don’t have any other players on the 40-man roster over the age of 30. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Rafael Dolis, and Shun Yamaguchi, are all over 30, but each of them would have been/will be new faces in the clubhouse this year.
Instead of relying on veteran leadership, the Blue Jays are looking to a few of their young players to step up in that department. At least from the outside looking in, it would appear that the Blue Jays have at least a couple of youngsters who should be well-suited in the role. MLB.com published an article yesterday talking about AL East players who could be future managers, and their own Keegan Matheson had this to say about Cavan Biggio:
"“Even as a rookie in 2019, Biggio quickly established himself as a leader in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse, earning the respect of young players and veterans alike. Behind closed doors, Biggio has held teammates accountable and picked the right moments to make his voice heard, which can be a difficult balance. We often lump the Blue Jays’ three young stars together, but it’s interesting to see the group’s complementary roles emerging. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. may collect the home run crowns and Bo Bichette could very well be the face of the franchise, but it’s Biggio who will be looked to as the (sometimes) quiet leader who speaks for the team. It’s not hard to picture him with a lineup card in his hand down the road.”"
This isn’t the first time that Biggo’s maturity has been highlighted, and even watching him it’s obvious that he’s a composed figure on the diamond. He’s also been very well spoken in post-game interviews and while handling the media in general, and it’s clear that he learned a lot from growing up around the game, with his father being a Hall of Famer and all.
He’s not the only one either though, as we’ve talked about Bo Bichette‘s impressive maturity and leadership quite a bit here at Jays Journal already, and that’s because he keeps providing us with examples. It’s obvious that Bichette is a charismatic figure and is destined to be a leader in the clubhouse and on the diamond. That’ll be a natural position for him as a shortstop, a leadoff man, and as a talented player with such a bright future.
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There are others too, and when you add it all up, it might be the perfect situation for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to thrive. He entered the league with about as much hype as any prospect had, at least in Toronto, and the pressure on him to succeed last year was pretty intense when you consider that he’s just 20 years old. He’s going to be one of the faces of this franchise regardless, but he doesn’t strike me as the same type of outspoken leader as Biggio or Bichette.
It’s entirely possible that I’m wrong about that, or maybe even that’s just my perception as someone who speaks English as my only language. Vlad Jr. speaks Spanish as his primary language, but he’s also fluent in French, and is learning English as well. That skillset will certainly prove to be valuable in a multi-cultural clubhouse as his career continues, and I’m sure he’ll grow into the role more as he matures and settles into the big leagues.
For now, it’ll be a huge benefit that Guerrero Jr. won’t necessarily be asked to be a clubhouse leader, at least vocally. I’m sure his voice and opinions will be more than welcomed when he speaks up, but the way the rest of the team is set up should allow him to focus on speaking where he does best, in the batter’s box.