He’s won the World Series, been an All-Star, earned a Gold Glove and played in the middle of a global pandemic, just to name a few of his accomplishments. But the 30-year-old has never witnessed the kind of offensive fireworks Blue Jays phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is providing to start the 2021 season.
“Watching him is better than anything I’ve ever seen, personally,” Panik said during a media availability on Thursday, per MLB.com’s Jordan Horrobin. “He’s on every pitch. It feels like he could hit a 60-mph curveball and still be ready for a 100-mph fastball … I haven’t seen anything like this.”
After a pair of solid but disappointing seasons, Guerrero Jr. is finally starting to live up to the incredible hype he built in the minor leagues as the sport’s top prospect. The 22-year-old leads MLB in WAR, per Fangraphs, has a league-best 16 home runs, and is batting an incredible .337 through 47 games.
He consistently drives the ball with authority to all parts of the field and ranks third league-wide in average exit velocity. For all his hitting prowess, he’s also remained patient at the plate, walking more than he strikes out. Add it all up and he’s truly having a season for the ages.
Fellow youngsters like Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto made their big splashes faster than Vladdy, but this year’s breakout proves the Blue Jays’ first baseman belongs in the conversation for the “Face of Baseball.”
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