This season has been a rollercoaster for the Toronto Blue Jays, with injuries ravaging the roster, free-agent signee George Springer only playing four games this season, and a young core that is producing one of the most potent lineups in all of baseball.
Then there is Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Once regarded as the top prospect in all of Major League Baseball, Guerrero Jr. made his debut back in 2019 and has been pretty consistent at the plate. His rookie season would see him slash .272/.339/.433 with 15 home runs while his sophomore campaign saw him produce a .262/.329/.462 line with nine home runs. While these aren’t terrible numbers by any means, they weren’t the eye-popping stats that many were expecting to see with all the hype he generated as a prospect in the minor leagues.
Fans also saw Guerrero make the defensive switch from third base across to first base, a move that is paying dividends for the Blue Jays this season with how well he is handling the somewhat new role.
Blue Jays’ first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. currently leads the AL in quite a few offensive categories and is officially on Triple Crown watch until the end of the season, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 2012.
The talk of the town this year is how well Guerrero Jr. is hitting at the plate this season, with the Canadian-born slugger leading the charge on the Blue Jays with a .338/.447/.676 line, 20 home runs, 52 RBI, 40 walks, and a 1.123 OPS.
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Guerrero is seeing the ball well at the plate with his walks almost equalling out to his strikeouts (41) and he just seems to have a better plan of attack at the plate, crushing opposing pitcher mistakes and laying off the borderline pitches. He currently has 35 hits that reached an exit velocity over 110.0 MPH and is already gaining MVP interest early in the campaign.
He even has the Blue Jays pitching staff impressed, with Ross Stripling stating, “We were saying, like we’re over here playing on MVP mode and he’s playing on rookie mode – it’s just easy for him. That’s an elite pitch and he hits it basically into the night sky.”
Another feat that could be on Guerrero Jr.’s radar as the season moves forward is the coveted Triple Crown.
The Triple Crown is when a position player finishes the season and leads either the AL or NL in average, home runs, and RBI, a triumph that is very difficult to achieve in the big leagues. The last person to accomplish a Triple Crown was Miguel Cabrera in 2012 within the AL, while Mickey Mantle back in 1956 was the last individual to become a “Major League” Triple Crown winner, meaning he led all three offensive categories across both leagues (AL and NL).
As of right now, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. currently leads the AL in AVG (.338), home runs (20), and RBI (52), so if the season were to end today he would be a Triple Crown winner. Unfortunately, the campaign is only 2.5 months of the way through, meaning some other players could catch up to Guerrero Jr. if he were to run into any problems or a slump sometime over the next few months.
The Triple Crown award is very difficult to earn, and so far this season, Guerrero Jr. is setting a very high pace that is not only helping the Blue Jays win games but also setting himself up for potential personal hardware.
While MVP chants can be heard in Buffalo when he steps up to the plate, if the slugger can keep putting balls over the fence and runs on the board, not only could he become an MVP, he could just be crowned the King of the North.