Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Can Vladimir Guerrero Jr. overcome Shohei Ohtani’s historic season to win the 2021 AL MVP award? (image from The Athletic Staff)

Vladdy Jr.’s Electric 2021 Season

It’s absolutely degrading to think that a man just one year and a couple of months older than I am is slashing .317/.406/.611 in Major League Baseball. That man is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and he’s coming for the American League MVP, where he would be the youngest winner since a 22-year-old Mike Trout won it in 2014. Unfortunately for Vladdy Jr., his MVP campaign for the final 16 games of the regular season will be an uphill battle.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is not only just getting hits and getting on base, but also absolutely smashing baseballs. With just over two weeks remaining, he has sent 45 baseballs over the fence, giving him a scary good chance at reaching the coveted mark of 50. Here are some of the AL statistical categories Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is thriving in this season:

  • BA: 1st – .317 (2nd – Yuli Gurriel, HOU: .315)
  • WAR (Position Players): 2nd – 6.2 (1st – Marcus Semien, TOR: 6.7)
  • WAR (Offensive): 1st – 6.2 (2nd – Marcus Semien, TOR: 5.6)
  • OBP: 1st – .406 (2nd – Yuli Gurriel, HOU: .383)
  • SLG: 1st – .611 (2nd – Shohei Ohtani, LAA: .599)
  • OPS: 1st – 1.017 (2nd – Shohei Ohtani, LAA: .956)
  • R: 1st – 116 (2nd – Bo Bichette, TOR: 111)
  • H: 1st – 173 (2nd – Bo Bichette, TOR: 169)
  • HR: 1st – 45 (2nd – Shohei Ohtani, LAA & Salvador Perez, KC: 44)
  • RBI: 3rd – 103 (1st – Salvador Perez, KC: 110)
  • BB: 3rd – 78 (1st – Joey Gallo, NYY: 106)

It’s interesting to point out that Vladdy has a defensive WAR of 0.0, mainly because of the value of his position. Since Toronto announced he was making the switch from one infield corner to the other, he has made 118 appearances as a first baseman, 27 as a designated hitter, and just one as a third baseman. It’s also worth pointing out that he plays in one of, if not, the best offenses in the entire league. Does he benefit from a good surrounding cast? Sure, but he is also the main reason the Blue Jays are where they are offensively. Toronto leads the MLB in homers with 233 and is second in team batting average at .267.

Who is Vladdy Jr.’s Competition?

Vladdy Jr. is not the only American Leaguer that has had everything click this season. Shohei Ohtani has emerged as a legit two-way superstar, something baseball fans have never seen in the history of the game. The Los Angeles Angels announced they wanted to use Ohtani primarily as a pitcher since the day he signed back in December of 2017. In his first fully healthy year on the mound, he has 21 games started, a 9-2 record, a 3.36 ERA, and 136 strikeouts in 115.1 innings pitched. But that’s not all. As a two-way player, manager Joe Maddon has used Ohtani as a hitter in 138 games this year, where he is slashing .256/.356/.599 with 44 bombs and 94 RBI.

Another candidate for AL MVP is Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, who is easily having the best season of his 10-year career. The 31-year-old Venezuelan has 44 homers, as well as 110 RBI – impressive for a member of a team that sits 13 games under .500.

So How Does Vladdy Jr. Win AL MVP?

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. needs two things to happen to win AL MVP. The first is that he needs to win the Triple Crown. Since 1933, there have been just 7 men to accomplish leading the American League in BA, HR, and RBI. Those names include the likes of Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Miguel Cabrera, who was the last to do so in 2012. Ted Williams did it twice. Winning the Triple Crown is one rarest single-season accomplishments in all of sports, so if Vladdy does so, it’d be hard to deny him the award. After all, Cabrera was voted MVP in 2012 over Mike Trout who put up similar, but slightly less impressive numbers while adding a league-leading 49 stolen bases.

The second thing Guerrero needs to have happen is for his Toronto Blue Jays to make the playoffs. It’s an absolute X-factor considering both Ohtani’s Angels and Perez’s Royals aren’t in contention for a playoff spot at all. If Toronto were to get in, voters would give him an extra boost. They should see him as a true league value, someone who was able to get his team to October and play meaningful baseball. The Blue Jays currently reside in a three-way tie for second place in the AL East and the AL Wild Card with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Prediction

I hate to knock Ohtani down here, because he has been the biggest story in the MLB this season, but I think Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gets the job done by winning the Triple Crown and getting his squad to the playoffs. Vladdy’s currently red hot at the dish and should get to 50 home runs. If he stays hot, he’ll hold off Gurriel or Michael Brantley for the batting title. The question is the RBI. Seven is a tad much to make up in just 16 games, but the hope is that the Blue Jays are playing meaningful games and he’ll come up big in them.

You decide for yourself if Adam Krieger aced or flopped on these 2021 AL East preseason predictions.

The Blue Jays are currently playing their best baseball of the year, and it’s at the most important time. They are 16-3 dating back to August 28, and among their five-remaining series, they play the abysmal Minnesota Twins twice (once at home, once on the road) and Baltimore for the final three games of the year at home. Toronto’s other two series include at Tampa Bay for three games against the Rays and home for three against the Yankees.

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