Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got off to a slow start but now looks every bit like the superstar he was pegged to be
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s colossal power was a myth propagated among Toronto Blue Jays fans in the form of viral social media videos and television highlights. On Wednesday night against the defending World Series champions, those fans finally got to see it in person.
Guerrero hit his first career home run at the Rogers Centre on Wednesday, a 424-foot shot off Boston Red Sox starter Rick Porcello that bounced off the facade of the Flight Deck in straightaway center field. Guerrero finished the game, a 6-5 loss in 13 innings, with two hits in six at-bats.
The 20-year-old Guerrero’s debut on April 26 was arguably the most anticipated in Blue Jays franchise history. For nearly two years fans had been hearing about his potential, how this son of a Hall of Famer was going to be the savior of the franchise. Due to baseball’s service time rules, however, his call-up was frustratingly put off far longer than it should have been.
Through his first few games, though, Guerrero didn’t look like the can’t-miss prospect he was promised to be. In his first 11 outings, he hit just .146 with no home runs and only one extra-base hit. Perhaps most surprisingly, he seemed lost at the plate. The player who walked more times than he struck out in his Minor League career went down on strikes 11 times in 41 ABs.
It turns out Guerrero was just taking his time getting acclimated to the big leagues. In his last 10 games, he’s hitting .368 with a 1.231 OPS. He hit his first two career home runs in San Francisco on May 14 and now has five on the season after going deep against Boston. He’s currently on a five-game hitting streak and has three straight multi-hit games. He’s struck out just four times in his last 38 ABs. This hot streak culminated in him being named American League Player of the Week, the youngest Blue Jays player ever to earn that honor.
Guerrero’s at-bats have become must-see events, so much so that there was a fan backlash when the Blue Jays rested him on Monday during a national holiday in Canada. Even manager Charlie Montoyo admits he’s in awe of what his young slugger can do each time he steps to the plate.
“He’s fun to watch because he can do stuff that not other guys can do,” Montoyo said after Wednesday’s game. “For me, every time he comes to the plate he’s got a chance to do that. So that’s fun for me to watch.”
With his recent hot streak, Guerrero has upped his batting average from .146 on May 10 to .253 entering play on Thursday. And, just 21 games into his big-league career, he’s only getting started. Now that Guerrero has finally found his footing in the Majors, he’s already the Blue Jays most feared hitter, a status he should maintain for years to come.