Blue Jays: Where Vlad Guerrero Jr. sits among early league leaders
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been absolutely locked in for the Blue Jays so far, and while it’s still very early, he’s among league leaders in several offensive categories.
That’s not hard to believe if you’ve been watching his at-bats so far in 2021, as he’s looked as confident and as dangerous in the batter’s box as we’ve ever seen him as a big leaguer. After going 3-4 in last night’s loss to Kansas City, the 22-year-old has pushed his batting average above .400 over his first 46 at-bats, and he’s among American League leaders in more than just batting average.
That’s not a bad place to start though, and as his .413 mark (19-46) puts him 3rd among AL hitters, trailing only Yurmin Mercedes of the White Sox (.476), and Yuli Gurriel of the Astros (.429). This is just a 13 game sample size, but the rest of the top ten includes names like Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz, J.D. Martinez, Whit Merrifield, Xander Bogaerts and more, and it’s nice to see Vlad Jr’s name among the best in the game for any reason.
Even more impressively, the Blue Jays’ young phenom has a .526 on-base percentage thus far, which is second only to Lourdes Gurriel Jr’s older brother Yuli. It’s very encouraging that he’s already drawn nine walks and only struck out 10 times so far, and he’s showing a lot more patience and maturity at the plate. He’s also 7th in the AL in slugging percentage at .674.
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That more disciplined approach is not only translating to successful box scores for Guerrero Jr., but he’s also hitting the ball as hard as anyone in the world right now. Two-way Angels’ star Shohei Ohtani holds the mark for the hardest hit ball in the big leagues this season, but no player is consistently hitting with authority the way Vlad Jr. has been. After his double last night it was pointed out on the broadcast that he has hit 10 balls over 110 miles per hour this season, and the next closest player has six. Vlad Jr. then followed it up with a 465 foot home run to left centre at 113.9 MPH, after his double earlier in the game came in at 112.8. That gave him two of the three hardest hit balls in the big leagues last night according to Baseball Savant.
A couple nights ago during the post-game press conference, Bo Bichette was asked about Vlad Jr. and said that he believed his teammate could end up as the best hitter in baseball. If there’s anyone who knows what Guerrero is capable of it’s Bichette, who watched him tear apart the minor leagues as they moved through the system together and dominated along the way. That’s the type of elite hitter Vlad Jr. has been so far in 2021, and he’s likely just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of.
At some point he’s going to cool off, at least a little bit, but so far Vlad Guerrero Jr. has been providing must-watch content with his at-bats. If he can maintain the same level of confidence in the batter’s box for the entire season, don’t be surprise if he remains among AL leaders in several hitting categories, just as he is now.