'He's Still Heating Up, Which Is Scary': Vlad Goes Oppo In Win
HOUSTON - Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has it easy right now. The same thing he bragged about as a would-be major when life was good and baseball was easy.
When Guerrero started practice in Houston on Tuesday, he firmly attached the hood of his jacket to two beautiful diamond chains on the front and hit six balls where they shouldn't have gone. Then the games started and video games became a reality.
Guerrero hit his third home run of the season in Toronto's 4-0 win, a solo shot to the opposite court. 357 with that many hits (nine) and on-base percentage seem to be tearing up his minor league stats. It's all about Vlady Jr.'s experience, and even though the 2022 season sapped Guerrero's hype train by his standards, the powerhouse is back on track.
"I learned a lot from last year, it's not how you start, it's how you finish," Guerrero said through a translator. Pressure. I'm not thinking about that this year. I just want to go out and do my job and have fun and have fun. It was amazing."
The 24-year-old praised his plan. The X's and O's don't matter - stick to that plan regardless of the outcome. In 2022, Guerrero deviated from that plan at times and had good success trying to be the Authority's best receiver when the Blue Jays needed him. Now he realizes again that he is a hunter and not the other way around.
"He didn't take what he got and become a power hitter. He was a leadoff hitter," manager John Schneider said. “The power just came. [Who] lives, especially in 2021. He can hit balls all over the field."
That's what makes Guerrero special in the minor leagues, especially in 2018. It has the unique ability to see from 97 to 50 mph. At times it seemed that Guerrero was determined to win the fight. It could be decades before we see another Blue Jays prospect dominate their game.
We will see the flash again. Schneider noted that some of his recent swings have been huge, but for the most part, Guerrero has been a batsman again. If he concentrates on winning the batting championship, he'll have enough natural power to accidentally claim the home run crown.
With that in mind, there is one thing that defines Guerrero's success: launch angle. A ground ball hurt the first baseman as he struggled. You've seen it in 2020 and '22, and you haven't seen any of his best campaigns. However, in '21, when Guerrero finished second in AL MVP voting, his average throw angle increased by 9.4 degrees.
This section? High 12.3 degrees. Thanks to Guerrero's hard work, this is the best place.
Matt Chapman, who returned home on Tuesday to continue his impressive streak, looks to be the more mature Guerrero this season. He sees smaller stars fall into place more efficiently and without wasting his momentum. Factor in Guerrero's defense - which continues to improve more than many realize - and his base movement - which gives him more speed than you think - and you have quite a range.
The Blue Jays' current lineup, and the new aggressive style that goes with it, seems to suit Guerrero. When asked if he wanted to try for another stolen base, a big smile spread across his face as she looked at the older boy.
"Obviously, I'm the type of player that if you give me a chance, I'll go," Guerrero said. Otherwise fine, but if I get a chance to get my hands on a ruler I will.
However, when Guerrero's contact moved to power, he scored more runs. On a team full of star talent, from Chapman to Beau Besch and more, Guerrero continues to be a team player with a unique ability to play and fight back.
We've seen it before and we'll see it again.
"I still feel fresh, which is scary," Chapman said.