Blue Jays: How did Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s first MLB week go?
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his Blue Jays debut one year ago yesterday. How did it go, and how was his first week in the big leagues?
I don’t know that there’s ever been a more hyped prospect in Toronto than Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and this time last year he was just getting started on his MLB career.
The kid had absolutely dominated at every level of the minor leagues, and finished his MiLB career with a .331/.414/.531 slash line across 289 games, keeping in mind this was from the ages of 17-20. There were loud calls for him to get promoted in 2018 when he was tearing apart Double-A pitching with a better than .400 average, but it wasn’t until Apr. 26th of last year that we finally got to see him in a Blue Jays uniform for a regular season game.
The team was never expected to compete for a playoff spot in 2019, so Guerrero Jr.’s arrival was less about saving the franchise, and more about giving us all a reason to tune in on a nightly basis. The excitement was certainly palpable, and his debut became a big event in Toronto, complete with a video message from his Hall of Fame father before his first game. Special and exciting yes, but no pressure, kid.
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For those that weren’t watching or have already forgotten, let’s take a look back at how his first week in the big leagues went. For the sake of rounding things off nicely, let’s just make it his first 10 games.
Apr 26: 1-4, double
Apr 27: 1-4, 2 K’s, 1 walk
Apr 28: 1-4, 1 K
Apr 30: 0-2, 2 walks, 1 K
May 1: 0-4, 2 K’s
May 3: 1-5, 1 K
May 4: 1-4, 1 K, 1 walk, 1 RBI
May 5: 0-4
May 6: 0-3, 2 K’s
May 7: 1-4 , 1 K
As you can see, it was a bit of a rocky start for the young phenom. After his first 10 games he was slashing just .162/.244/.189 with just one extra-base hit, and one RBI. In fact, I even remember some very premature calls for him to get sent back to Triple-A for a while to figure things out. The thing was, he had nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, and even if he had never struck out 11 times in 10 games before, there was no sense in working backwards at that point.
In his defence, I was watching pretty much every second of his first 10 games, and I remember the tough luck he had at the plate very well. Not to place any blame on anyone else, and the youngster didn’t do it either, but he had a lot of tough strikes called against him in his first handful of games, both as a third strike, and to put him behind in the count. It seemed like he was always working from behind, and that’s not an easy place to be against the best pitchers in the world as an inexperienced big leaguer.
Fortunately young Vlad turned things around as the season went on, putting on a show at the Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities, and having himself a pretty solid second half. If baseball ever gets going again in 2020, it’ll be very exciting to see what the sophomore can do with a little more experience under his belt. As for his first 10 games in the big leagues, well, you can’t win ’em all.