Toronto Blue Jays

Blue Jays’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr. makes his case for All-Star selection

Toronto Blue Jays’ LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been the best hitter in the AL the past month, including hitting two more home runs on Friday

It took a trip down to the minor leagues to figure it out, but Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is now the hottest player in baseball.

Gurriel hit two more home runs on Friday in Toronto’s 6-2 win over the Kansas City Royals at the Rogers Centre, extending his run of great hitting that has now reached more than a month.

The Blue Jays came into the season expecting that they were set at the second base position. Gurriel was coming off a breakthrough rookie season in 2018, where he hit .281 with 11 home runs and tied the American League record with 11 straight multi-hit games. But he proved a big disappointment from the start of the 2019 season. By April 14, Gurriel was hitting just .175 with no home runs in 16 games and the Blue Jays sent him down to Triple-A Buffalo.

Gurriel ended up playing 31 games in Buffalo, hitting .276. He was finally called back up to the big league club on May 24, and since then has gone from minor leaguer to the cusp of his first All-Star game appearance. Since his call-up, Gurriel leads the AL with 14 home runs, three more than any other player. He also leads in slugging percentage (.727) and is tied with the Royals’ Whit Merrifield with 44 hits and the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu with a .352 AVG.

The 25-year-old Cuban provided all the offense the Blue Jays would need on Friday. In the sixth inning, he hit a two-run home run to center field off Royals’ starter Danny Duffy that was measured at 434 feet, tying the game at 2-2. He added a second home run to lead off the eighth off reliever Wily Peralta that gave the Blue Jays a two-run lead that they would never relinquish. Gurriel finished the game 2-4 with three RBI.

Gurriel has only been getting better the past week. He now has six straight multi-hit games dating back to last Saturday. He also hit two home runs on Wednesday in Yankee Stadium, becoming only the fourth Blue Jay in franchise history with consecutive multi-homer games.

He’s not just contributing at the plate either. At the start of the season, Gurriel played primarily at second base. But since his call-up, he’s been used exclusively in left field where he’s been exceptional. He leads all left fielders with six outfield assists this season despite playing only 31 games there.

For the season, Gurriel is now hitting .309 and is tied for the team lead with 14 home runs. When the All-Star reserves are announced on Sunday, he’s made a good case why he should represent the Blue Jays in Cleveland. His first All-Star selection would cap off an incredible journey, from minor league ballparks just a month ago to the game’s biggest stage alongside the best players. For the past month, at least, he’s been just as good as any of them.

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