Vladimir Guerrero Jr. came up to the major leagues in 2019 with expectations higher than anyone in recent memory, expectations that were unfair to the young phenom.
Since then, Blue Jays fans have held Guerrero Jr. to an incredibly high standard, and after a tough season in the shortened 2020 season, some fans went as far to call him a bust and wanted him traded. Thankfully, fans don’t run the team and the Blue Jays knew what they had, it just needed to be unlocked.
Unlocking this true potential has always been a focus for the Jays, but it came down to what Guerrero Jr. did in the offseason to obtain the results he has seen so far. It won’t take an expert to identify what has helped him turn things around this season. It was his weight loss. It has allowed him to hit the ball better and to play in their field more effectively than before. It’s helped him in every way imaginable this season.
With the bat this season, Guerrero Jr. has been hitting the ball hard, and while he hasn’t been hitting the ball out of the ballpark as often as people may have expected, he is getting on base none the less. You don’t need to hit a home run to score runs, and that is evident when you look at Guerrero Jr.’s runs batted in.
In 2020, he had only 33 RBIs in 60 games. For a player that was expected to be the league’s biggest super star since Bryce Harper, that simply wasn’t good enough. But this season, things have been much better for Guerrero Jr. In 17 games, he has 11 RBIs.
While his play at the plate has been significantly better, perhaps where he is most improved is in the field. In 2020, it was rather common to see Guerrero Jr. boot the ball around the infield or be unable to come up with a ball that any experienced first basemen would be able to grab. Even going back to the 2019 season, he made 17 errors. In 2021 however, Guerrero Jr. looks plenty comfortable over at first base.
It was thought that he would need to become the team’s designated hitter to be an effective player long term for the club, but so far this season, Guerrero Jr. has proven that isn’t the case. To kick off the campaign, he has looked much more comfortable and capable of playing the position. While some were still skeptical at the beginning of the season, he has quickly proven he can do it.
There are still some things to work on when it comes to his defence and by no means will he be a gold glover at seasons end, but he has exceeded my expectations defensively. He has made some impressive plays over at first and has looked like much less of a liability. That coupled with his ability at the plate is what makes him dangerous.
Anywhere close to his full potential with the bat and a decent fielder would put him over the top. For what was expected of him at the start of his Blue Jays tenure, it can safely be said that he is becoming a more complete player as he gets older. He is becoming better than anticipated. Talk about scary for the opposition.