When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. arrived within the main leagues in 2019, he was probably the most hyped prospects in baseball historical past. The Toronto Blue Jays’ wunderkind arrived with a No. 1 rating on numerous high prospect lists, after all, however it went deeper than that. Even the MLB’s personal writers puzzled, “Is Vlad Jr. the best prospect ever?” It wasn’t an unreasonable query, given Guerrero’s dominance of the minor leagues and what scouts prefer to name “pedigree.” He’s the son of Corridor of Fame outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.



Regardless of his expertise and household historical past, Vlad Jr.’s first few years within the bigs didn’t justify the thrill. He wasn’t dangerous, however he wasn’t setting the league on hearth, both. Going by FanGraphs’ adjusted Runs Created stat (wRC+), Vlad Jr. was about five percent better at serving to his staff generate runs than a league-average hitter as a rookie, then 12 p.c higher in 2020. In different phrases, he was an excellent hitter, however not the form of smashing celebrity individuals had predicted. Not less than not but.

In 2021, that’s all modified. Vlad Jr. is likely one of the Most worthy gamers within the sport to date this yr. He has registered 3.5 wins above replacement (primarily, over what a typical minor league callup would get the Jays). He has reached the league’s most elite tier by doing among the similar issues his dad used to do, but in addition by charting his personal course as a hitter. Right here’s how the 2 examine.

Sure, Vlad Jr. has his dad’s pop on the plate—perhaps much more.

MLB didn’t have high-tech cameras to inform us precisely how exhausting Vlad Sr. hit the ball throughout his profession (which lasted from 1996 to 2011), however suffice it to say: He hit it very exhausting.

In that point, Vlad Sr. made 9 All-Star Video games, was named the American League MVP in 2004, and established a resume that made him a second-ballot Corridor of Famer in 2018. (He completed just 15 votes shy of constructing it in 2017.) He wrapped up his career with a .318 cumulative batting common and 449 homers, cementing his standing as top-of-the-line hitters ever.

Vlad Jr. is constant that custom. This yr, he has hit 18 homers whereas posting a .330 common and a 1.089 OPS, a league-leading figure. Evaluate Vlad Jr.’s numbers to Vlad Sr.’s throughout his 2004 MVP marketing campaign, and Junior looks pretty good to date. Going by Baseball Reference’s OPS+ statistic, Vlad Jr. has been twice nearly as good as the common hitter in 2021. Vlad Sr. was “solely” 57 p.c higher than the common hitter the yr he gained MVP.

They’re fairly comparable within the subject, for higher and (largely) worse.

Vlad Sr. was one of many worst fielders of his era. Throughout his profession, he was price 10 wins under substitute degree as an outfielder. That made him one of many 30 most harmful defenders in baseball through the years he performed, although he was largely a chosen hitter (and due to this fact not enjoying within the subject) by the previous few years of his profession.

Even so, he did make some rifle throws:

Vlad Jr., like his dad, is extraordinarily dangerous at protection on the entire. He’s been price -1.5 defensive WAR over his first three years. The Blue Jays performed him at third base when he was a rookie, then moved him over to first base the previous few seasons. Regardless of some solid plays, he has been fairly dangerous and not using a bat in his hand.

It’s not that his protection doesn’t matter; he’s simply such an excellent hitter that he stays an MVP-caliber participant anyway. And by inserting him largely first base and likewise utilizing him as a non-fielding designated hitter, the Jays are ready to make sure that his defensive limitations don’t grow to be an excessive amount of of a legal responsibility.

The large distinction between father and son: How they go after pitches.

Vlad Sr. was his period’s defining free-swinger. He not often encountered a pitch he didn’t like. Throughout his profession, he swung at 58 p.c of the pitches he noticed, including 46 p.c of balls out of the strike zone. These have been by far the best charges of any of the nice hitters of his time, with solely a few lesser hitters swinging extra incessantly general. Vlad Sr. swung at balls within the filth and hit them as if he have been enjoying cricket. Typically it labored:

Vlad Jr. is way completely different on this regard. He swings at about 47 percent of the pitches he sees and solely 29 p.c of non-strikes—profession figures which can be dropping this season. After not drawing many walks in his first two years, he’s now taking a base on balls in about 15 percent of his plate appearances—twice as usually as Vlad Sr. took them in his MVP season.

That’s a part of the brilliance of Vlad Jr. He’s his father’s son; you may see it in how joyfully he performs the sport and the way a lot energy he swings with. However he’s following his personal path in main league baseball, and it would simply lead him to his personal MVP season.

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