5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 2021
When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. first came up in 2019, he came with a lot of hype. He is the son of a Hall of Famer and was one of the more highly touted prospects I can remember in my lifetime. He was expected to contribute immediately.
Guerrero Jr. wasn’t bad by any stretch, but he also wasn’t a star immediately. He posted OPS+ numbers slightly over 100 and was a fine hitter who didn’t really break out.
Everything changed in his first full season in the bigs. Vladdy was the best hitter in one of the best lineups in the game that might just be getting started considering the young ages of the big boppers on this roster.
The 22-year-old slashed .311/.401/.601 with 48 home runs and 111 RBI. Vladdy hit .272 with 15 home runs in his only other season playing over 100 games so it’s safe to say he made a massive, massive jump. Vladdy was the All-Star Game MVP, won a Silver Slugger, and finished second to two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani for the MVP award. In pretty much any other year where there isn’t someone who can pitch and hit at an elite level, Guerrero Jr. would’ve won the MVP.
Vladdy led the AL with his 48 home runs, a mark that is second behind Bautista’s 54 home run 2010 season in Jays history. He also led the league with 123 runs scored, he ranks second in Jays’ franchise history in that category as well.
Everyone knew Vladdy had the tools to hit a lot of home runs. He has a very imposing presence at the plate and takes some vicious hacks. What really impressed me was Vladdy’s ability to get on base, where he led the league with his .401 OBP. His elite on-base ability is why someone like Teoscar Hernandez was able to drive in 116 runs, hitting behind Vladdy for much of the year. It’s easy for a young player with that much talent to try and swing at everything but Vladdy takes what is given to him and it is so impressive to watch him hit.
Vladdy also led the league in slugging percentage, OPS, total bases, and OPS+. He also led the league with a 166 WRC+. Ohtani was second in the league with a 152 OPS+. That disparity shows just how good Vladdy was offensively. It’ll be exciting to see what the future holds for the superstar.