It’s not hard to find reasons to be impressed with the work of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays this season. However, when you take a deeper look into what he’s done, it’s just downright ridiculous at this point.
After homering in his third straight game on Saturday, Vlad Jr. is once again leading MLB in long balls, and he’s doing that as he’s slashing .339/.443/.683 while also pacing the league in RBI with 64. He’s putting on a nightly show, and his at-bats are becoming a can’t miss event for Blue Jays fans.
What’s even nuttier is that he’s doing this at just 22 years old, and dare I say it, he’s probably going to improve even more as he continues to gain experience against big league pitching. Hard to imagine him putting up better numbers, but we’re still looking at a youngster with just 956 MLB at-bats under his belt.
Those numbers are obviously impressive, but I came across an article from Dayn Perry at cbssports.com that pointing out some dumbfounding statistics. The article was focused on Vlad Jr’s approach as a first-pitching hitter this year. It’s worth checking out the whole article, but a handful of the highlights include:
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- He’s hitting .579/.586/1.105 against the first pitch this season. You could make the argument never to throw him a first pitch strike, but do you really want to get behind on a hitter like that?
- He’s slugging 1.846 against first pitch fastballs. Hahahaha
- Hitting .632 when a pitcher throws a first pitch sinker instead.
I’ll stop there before I spoil Perry’s entire piece, but I think you get the idea.
After reading through all of that, I couldn’t help but go take a look for myself, and check out a few other impressive statistics from the young phenom. For example, the stats that Perry pointed out were looking at what he does against the first pitch. Naturally, I wanted to know if there was a steep drop off if he went down 0-1 after a first pitch strike. Nope.
.440/.462/.990, 4 HR, 7 RBI over 25 AB
There are so many impressive performances against various counts, enough that it’s worth looking for yourself at baseballreference.com, but here are a few that stood out to me in addition to what’s already been mentioned.
- Vs. an Even count: .420/.421/.848, 13 HR, 31 RBI, 112 AB
- With RISP: .418/.535/.821, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 67 AB
- 2 runners on base: .448/.556/.931, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 29 AB
- Vs. 3 ball counts: .302/.667/.535 (obviously not afraid to take a walk)
In a lineup that’s riddled with other great hitters, Guerrero Jr. is the undisputed focal point of the offence right now. We’re just 75 games into the 2021 campaign and already Vlad Jr. has become the Canadian-born franchise leader in home runs with 26, passing Michael Saunders’ previous record. At this rate, he’s on pace for more than 50 home runs this year, and this in a season that home runs are down across most of the league. In fact, right now he’s on pace to exceed Jose Bautista’s franchise record of 54 home runs in a single season.
As a fan I think my favourite part of watching Vlad Jr. is the pure enjoyment of the game we’re seeing from him these days. He’s helping to the set the tone as a young leader of this ball club, and it’s obviously that his teammates are willing to follow his lead. He’s serious when he needs to be, but generally he’s one of the more fun-loving figures in baseball and it’s hard not to crack a smile when you see one of the game’s best players dancing in the dugout, or mimicking Jordan Romano’s pre-pitch routine.
It’s clear that Guerrero Jr. has found his stride at the big league level, and we’re witnessing the breakouts of one of the best hitters in the world. As for the numbers, everywhere you look they speak for themselves.