The Toronto Blue Jays hitter is posting frankly outrageous numbers. His Baseball Savant page is a sea of red. The Blue Jays might be six games off the division lead, but it’s no fault of their 22-year-old phenom.
Having broken minor league records at a prolific rate, Vlad Jr’s arrival in the Majors was met with raptures of excitement. He was one of the most eagerly anticipated prospects in recent memory. It would be harsh to say he flopped. It’s fair to say it was underwhelming.
Through two seasons and 183 Major League games, Guerrero was at only a 107 wRC+. It’s above average. It’s fine. For a player as defensively limited, though, and who arrived as an historically great hitter in the minors, this was not what Toronto had hoped for.
I’m very late but VLAD JR HAS 17 HOME RUNS LOL pic.twitter.com/UtJfVloyme
— Fuzzy (@fuzzyfromyt) June 2, 2021
There were fair concerns that this is just who he was as a big leaguer.
It was also worth remembering, though, how young he was. Vlad Jr has played 183 games across those two seasons, but he only celebrated his 22nd birthday on March 16th 2021. To give some context, the second-best prospect in baseball in 2021 is Adley Rutschman, and he’s 23 years old.
Vlad Guerrero stats 2021
Previous statistics suggested there was more to come. He was in the top seven percent in exit velocity. Getting more lift on the ball was a must. That has been part of the progress in Vladimir Guerrero stats 2021. His launch angle has moved from 4.6 in 2020 to 8 in 2021. His groundball rate has dropped and there are more flyballs than previous seasons.
Vlad Jr is barrelling the baseball far more than previously – almost 15% of the time, in fact. His outcome numbers are no fluke. All of the underlying contact and approach suggests he can keep up something close to this rate – he’s 98th percentile in xwOBA, 99th in average exit velocity, and 92nd in walk rate.
His 195 wRC+ is not just the best in baseball. It’s far clear of his nearest rivals. The next best qualified American League hitter is Cedric Mullins in the mid-150s.
Guerrero leads baseball in home runs. Only 11 players have a higher walk rate, and of the top 28 players in walk rate, Yandy Diaz is the only hitter with a lower strikeout rate than Guerrero.
What we have seen is not just power, this is the complete package. His 21% chase rate is by far the lowest of his short career. Much was made of his fitness push too, and that has paid dividends in an improved sprint speed and solid enough defense at first.
Vlad Jr – MVP candidate
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is special. Unfortunately, when it comes to the AL MVP race, he might not be quite special enough. It takes something historic to beat a season like Guerrero is putting up, and Shohei Ohtani is doing just that with his blend of 100mph fastballs, monster dingers and elite sprint speed.
This won’t be Vlad’s last chance at an MVP. There’s nothing to suggest this season is a freak. If anything, with his prospect pedigree and the incredible plate discipline we have seen, this might be just the beginning for Toronto’s young star.
It doesn’t feel right to say MVP is out of reach. Should Guerrero keep this up, he will be a top two finisher, but as it stands, Ohtani’s case is indisputable, even if the Blue Jay finishes with by far the best hitting stats in the American League.
Every Vlad Jr plate appearance is must watch TV right now. That could be the case for another 15 years.