If you were watching Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays’ latest sweep over Atlanta, then you likely saw one of the biggest secrets to this team’s success.
It’s not a complicated concept, but it was on full display over the latest three game set in Atlanta that saw the Jays season record against the Braves go to 6-0, and their overall record jump to 20-16. Simply put, these guys are having fun playing the game of baseball, and the results speak for themselves.
For a talented young roster like the one in Toronto (or Dunedin/Buffalo), it’s not so much about whether they have the talent to be a playoff contender, but rather, whether or not their young core is ready to take the next step. So far this year it looks like they are ready for that challenge, as guys like Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette have helped lead them to their solid start.
We saw the opposite from Bichette earlier in the year, as he was pressing a bit, especially on defence. He’s been a lot more solid with the glove of late, and you can tell that it’s allowing him to feel more relaxed throughout the rest of his game as well. The same could be said for Cavan Biggio who badly struggled at third base in the early going, but has found a way to turn things around and start making a more regular contribution.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
However, if there’s one guy that is going to influence the relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse, it’s Vlad Jr. You can tell that his energy has a tremendous influence on the rest of his teammates, and he’s often at the centre of smiles and laughter on the bench. He’s had a light-hearted and friendly approach over at first base as well, and it’s always fun to see him joking around with opponents who reach base.
On Thursday Guerrero Jr. gave us a memorable moment, and one that could easily be dismissed as goofing off or not taking things seriously enough. When Jordan Romano was closing down the Braves in the 9th inning, Vlad Jr. was mimicking his trademark movements on the mound prior to throwing a pitch. It brought a hearty chuckle from the broadcast crew of Dan Schulman and Buck Martinez, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only fan at home with a smile on my face.
In his post-game interview, Bichette was asked if he was aware of what Guerrero Jr. was doing, and he chuckled and said that was not. That said, the laugh was one of endearment, and you can tell that Vlad is both well respected, and well liked. He showed his commitment to becoming an elite player this past winter, and also with the early numbers he’s put up through the first 36 games of the year.
At this point he’s earned the right to exhale a little bit, and to truly embrace the fun-loving personality he brings to the team. There’s always going to be the pressure to perform, but now that Guerrero Jr. has proven to the baseball world, and to himself, that he’s the player we all thought he’d be when he was dominating the minor leagues, he can blossom into the franchise face we’ve been waiting for.
Again, it’s a simple concept. but when this young team is relaxed and enjoying themselves then the results will speak for themselves. That’s been the story of late, and hopefully these talented youngsters can continue to let the good times roll.