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Vladdy Jr. Night: Guerrero Has Arrived

Vladdy Night: Guerrero Jr. has arrived
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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is as dangerous of a hitter as there is in baseball right now — just ask Max Scherzer.

The Toronto Blue Jays slugger was responsible for the third-ever grand slam that Scherzer has allowed in his career on Tuesday night in the third inning. He then added two more home runs in the fifth and seventh innings respectively. Toronto’s 9-5 victory against the Washington Nationals in the series opener was more than a win — it was the official coming-out party for an emerging superstar hitter.

Guerrero Jr. was labeled as a generational talent throughout his time in the Blue Jays’ farm system. His Major League Baseball debut on April 26, 2019, against the Oakland Athletics, wasn’t just a game, it was an event. The excitement was real, not just in Toronto but throughout all of baseball. 

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Fast-forward two years and the 22-year-old first baseman has now officially become a must-see hitter, just like Ronald Acuña Jr. or Fernando Tatís Jr. Through 22 games in 2021, Vladdy has launched seven home runs while coming in at a whopping OPS of over 1000 and an OPS+ of 231 — in other words, he’s performing at a level that’s 231 percent better than the average position player in the early goings of the new season. 

 

WATCH: Tyler Milliken and Logan Lockhart each pick the two most surprising rookies in the MLB for 2021. They break down the wild Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres’ rivalry on Prime Time Sports Talk’s “The Squeeze”

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Career night is something ‘not many people can do’

Guerrero Jr.’s three-homer night on Tuesday began with a grand slam off of the Nationals ace. The four-RBI swing was launched with a projected distance of 415 feet while giving the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead in the process. 

“I think that’s special,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters via Zoom after the Blue Jays’ victory. “Not many people can do that. It’s been fun to watch.”

 

 

Like father, like son?

Not even Vladimir Guerrero Sr., the Baseball Hall of Fame father of the Blue Jays slugger, hit three home runs in a game over the course of his 16-year career. Toronto’s victory on Tuesday prompted the team’s television broadcaster and former big-league catcher Buck Martinez to call the game “Vladdy Jr. Night.” In a lineup that contains the likes of Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Teoscar Hernandez, and Cavan Biggio, Guerrero Jr. has separated himself as Toronto’s best hitter, despite the absence of prized free-agent George Springer through the first 22 games of the year. 

 

 

An Advanced Look

  • 50% of Guerrero Jr.’s batted balls are categorized as hard hit. Statcast defines that as a ball that’s launched with an exit velocity of over 95 mph
  • Guerrero Jr.’s grand slam in the third inning registered an exit velocity of 108 mph, according to Statcast
  • Statcast has ranked the Blue Jays slugger in the top 2 percent of the league for average exit velocity in 2021 (94.7 mph)
  • Guerrero Jr.’s hardest-hit ball in 2021 was registered at an exit velocity of 116 mph (top 2 percent of eligible batters in the MLB)

It’s no secret that the Blue Jays first baseman hits the ball harder than most in the league, as evident. But what makes Guerrero Jr. the full-package hitter in 2021 is his ability to reach base at a career-high mark. Contrary to the trend with contemporary hitters that possess above-average power, the 22-year-old has more walks than he does strikeouts. Along with the improved discipline he’s displayed at the plate, Vladdy has shown the ability to hit the ball to all areas of the field, demonstrating opposite-field power on a consistent basis. 

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The slugger has arrived

One of the great baseball cliches can definitely be referred to when talking about a 22-year-old player whose slash line is .360/484/.693 in late April: “It’s early.” Despite that, Guerrero Jr. has seemed to have put all the hitting tools together thus far.

This year the potent Blue Jays lineup hasn’t lived up to its full potential quite yet. As a previously highly-touted prospect, Guerrero Jr.’s emergence is much needed. 

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Follow Logan Lockhart on Twitter @lgllockhart

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Check us out on our socials:   
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
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