When Vladimir Guerrero Jr. arrived within the main leagues in 2019, he was one of the vital hyped prospects in baseball historical past. The Toronto Blue Jays’ wunderkind arrived with a No. 1 rating on numerous prime prospect lists, in fact, but it surely 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 unhealthy, 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 crew generate runs than a league-average hitter as a rookie, then 12 % higher in 2020. In different phrases, he was a great hitter, however not the sort of smashing celebrity individuals had predicted. At the very least not but.
In 2021, that’s all modified. Vlad Jr. is among the most beneficial gamers within the sport up to now this 12 months. 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 a few of the identical issues his dad used to do, but additionally by charting his personal course as a hitter. Right here’s how the 2 evaluate.
Sure, Vlad Jr. has his dad’s pop on the plate—possibly much more.
MLB didn’t have high-tech cameras to inform us precisely how arduous Vlad Sr. hit the ball throughout his profession (which lasted from 1996 to 2011), however suffice it to say: He hit it very arduous.
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 among the finest hitters ever.
Vlad Jr. is continuous that custom. This 12 months, he has hit 18 homers whereas posting a .330 common and a 1.089 OPS, a league-leading figure. Examine Vlad Jr.’s numbers to Vlad Sr.’s throughout his 2004 MVP marketing campaign, and Junior looks pretty good up to now. Going by Baseball Reference’s OPS+ statistic, Vlad Jr. has been twice pretty much as good as the common hitter in 2021. Vlad Sr. was “solely” 57 % higher than the common hitter the 12 months he received MVP.
They’re fairly related 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 stage as an outfielder. That made him one of many 30 most harmful defenders in baseball in the course of the years he performed, even though he was largely a delegated 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 unhealthy 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 unhealthy with out a bat in his hand.
It’s not that his protection doesn’t matter; he’s simply such a great hitter that he stays an MVP-caliber participant anyway. And by inserting him largely first base and in addition utilizing him as a non-fielding designated hitter, the Jays are in a position to make sure that his defensive limitations don’t turn into 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 % of the pitches he noticed, including 46 % of balls out of the strike zone. These have been by far the very best charges of any of the nice hitters of his time, with solely a few lesser hitters swinging extra steadily total. Vlad Sr. swung at balls within the filth and hit them as if he have been enjoying cricket. Generally it labored:
Vlad Jr. is far completely different on this regard. He swings at about 47 percent of the pitches he sees and solely 29 % of non-strikes—profession figures which are 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 typically 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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