Who is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Why Should You Care?

Meet the latest large adult son in your life

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A couple weeks ago, the Toronto Blue Jays called up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to the majors. The promotion was overdue. Because of an archaic labor rule, the Blue Jays had incentive to keep Guerrero in the minors for as long as possible. Doing so would help the Jays accrue an extra year of team control, a year when they could control Guerrero’s salary. It’s a boring, lousy rule, designed to maintain some semblance of parity in a league where team payrolls aren’t capped, but its legacy will be that it keeps young, exciting talent from graduating to the majors. But the wait for Guerrero is over, and he’ll soon be your new favorite large adult son

So who is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and why should you care? We present our case.

Minor League Legend

During last year’s full season in the minors, Guerrero slashed .381/.437/.636, preposterous numbers for a 19-year-old at the Triple A level. Surrounded by athletes four to five years older than him, he didn’t belong at the level, which made the wait for him to arrive in the majors all the more agonizing. He’s a natural, just like his father, former Expos and Angels legend Vlad Guerrero.

However, Guerrero Jr. isn’t an outfielder; he played third base but will likely be headed toward 1B/DH territory, defensively. He’s a much better, much more advanced hitter than his father was; while Guerrero Sr. was known for his ability to hit a baseball, no matter how far outside the strike zone, that versatility came at the expense of strikeouts and hundreds of pitches chased far outside the strike zone. While Guerrero J. doesn’t walk a ton—37 bases on balls in 408 plate appearances in the minors last year—he doesn’t strike out a ton, either. Much has been made about the sound of the ball off his bat, discussions that evoke the breathless Bo Jackson descriptions of yore. 

Call-Up to the Blue Jays

When Vladdy got called up on April 24, a whole country exalted. Guerrero, who was born in Montreal when his father was starring for the Expos, quickly became the talk of Toronto, even with the Raptors moving on in the Eastern Conference playoffs. He got his first hit, a double that led to a game-winning rally. It was a fitting first chapter.

Now, Guerrero is adjusting to the plate a little and has yet to hit his first home run. (He hit 20 last year.) But as one of the youngest players in the majors, he’s got plenty of time to figure it out. 

Oh, he also met Drake and was charmingly nervous. Relatable!

What Happens Next

Guerrero Jr.’s arrival into the majors is encouraging. In a sport desperate for youth and energy in the majors, it’s a relief to see the new generation of MLB thriving. While baseball lacks a system that incentivizes getting your best young players into the majors as quickly as possible, guys like Guerrero and the San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatís Jr. graduating to the majors at age 20 could be a sign that times are changing.

A labor debate is looming in baseball, and it seems unavoidable. So enjoy the precocious pop that Guerrero provides while you can. 

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