After a strong offensive weekend in Baltimore that saw the Blue Jays crank out 47 runs in four games, capped off by an impressive 22-7 shellacking yesterday at Camden Yards, the club will be returning home to welcome the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins this upcoming week as they try and stay in the AL Wild Card.
While the Blue Jays received support from the entire lineup this past weekend, first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. continued his dominant season, going 5 for 16 with two home runs, two RBI, and two walks on his way to a .319/.408/.610 slash line for the season. After this series, Guerrero Jr. now has 44 home runs and 102 RBI on the campaign as well as an impressive 1.018 OPS.
Since the halfway point on the season, Guerrero Jr. has been on the radar for not only the MVP award but also potentially in a position to earn the Triple Crown award within the American League, a prestigious accomplishment in which one individual has the highest batting average, home runs, and RBI within their respective league.
As of right now, Guerrero Jr. owns the highest batting average (.319) and is tied with Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels in regards to home runs with 44. The only category he is currently trailing in is RBI, with Salvador Perez (105) and Jose Abreu (107) both ahead of him while Rafael Devers and teammate Teoscar Hernandez are tied with the right-handed slugger at 102.
There have been only 12 Triple Crowns awarded in the history of Major League Baseball, with Ted Williams and Roger Hornsby being the only two individuals to win the award twice. The latest player to accomplish the feat was Miguel Cabrera back in 2012 with the Detroit Tigers when he led the AL with 44 home runs, 139 RBI, and a .330 batting average.
As the season begins to wind down, Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is making a serious push for the Triple Crown award in the American League.
For Vladdy to stand a chance of winning the Triple Crown, he will need to make up some serious ground in the RBI category if he wants to catch up to Perez and Abreu. It doesn’t help that Abreu and his Chicago White Sox are playing well right now but the Jays will need to get on base ahead of Guerrero Jr. in the three-hole and he will need to find a way to be clutch and bring them in. This will also simultaneously help his batting average unless it is a sac fly (which won’t technically hurt it either).
Fighting Ohtani for the home run lead will also be difficult but understandably, the more home runs he hits, the more positive impact it will have on his average and RBI as he tries to take sole possession of all three categories. He has been hitting the ball well lately and even when he gets ok contact on a ball there is always the potential for it to go yard with his raw power and bat speed.
Looking ahead at the upcoming schedule, the Jays’ will be playing at some hitter-friendly parks before the season comes to a close. The club will play 12 games at home in the Rogers Centre and will also have three games at Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay) and four games in Minnesota at Target Field. Looking at ESPN 2021 MLB Park Factors, the rankings for home runs are as followed (this list takes into account Dunedin and Buffalo):
- 12th Rogers Centre – Toronto (1.074)
- 17th Target Field – Minnesota (1.019)
- 32nd Tropicana Field – Tampa Bay (0.721)
A ranking over 1.000 favours the hitter and any ranking below that threshold is directed as more pitcher-friendly, meaning the Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays will mostly be playing in parks that should lean towards the hitters and the long ball. Tropicana Field has always given the Blue Jays problems and Guerrero Jr. owns the following splits at each park:
- Rogers Centre – 85 games: .255/.321/.407; .728 OPS; 11 home runs; 39 RBI
- Tropicana Field – 22 games: .193/.272/.313; .585 OPS; 1 home run: 4 RBI
- Target Field – No stats
He will need to buck the trend at Tropicana Field if he has any shot of reaching the Triple Crown, a difficult task given the Rays have 89 wins on the season and lead the AL East by a large margin. Target Field is new territory for Junior but hopefully, he can find a way to take on the slumping Twins club that has 63 wins on the season and sit 17.0 games back in the AL Central.
Not only will a strong start to the season help Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on his quest for the Triple Crown award, but it will also aid in the Blue Jays effort to make the postseason via the Wild Card, as the club currently sits tied with the Boston Red Sox with the New York Yankees only being 1.0 game back as well as Oakland and Seattle only being 3.0 games back respectively.