Vladimir Guerrero was a Hall of Famer. His son, just beginning his big league career, is doing things even his father never did
Vladimir Guerrero possessed tremendous strength, nimble hands to move around any court and an excellent ability to make contact and send the ball to all parts of the field.
Of course, this isn’t about Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays superstar, who hit his second three-homer game of his career Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. No, it’s about his father, the original Vladdy, the one who paved the way for his son and whose plaque is forever enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Baseball is a game of fathers and sons, fathers who pass on their love of the game to the next generation. There were several families that sent multiple generations into the big leagues, from the Griffeys, the Bonds, and even three-generation families like the Boones and the Bells. However, none of them are like the Guerreros.
Vlad Sr. has built a reputation as one of the best players of his time over a 16-year career spent primarily with the Expos and Angels. He was the 2004 American League MVP and a nine-time All-Star. Only six hitters in MLB history have hit at least 440 career homers and finished with a .315-over average. Five of them are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Jimmie Foxx. Guerrero is the other, a career that earned induction into the Hall of Fame in 2018.
For all the baseball families that came before them, Guerrero is the only Hall of Famer whose son has eclipsed what he did. More than a decade since his father last appeared in an MLB game, Vlad Jr. is following closely in his father’s footsteps and showing that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the Guerrero household.
They are not the same type of player. Guerrero Jr. is a bit bulkier, Guerrero Sr. a bit taller. The elder Guerrero was known for his willingness to swing into any lie, whether in the dirt or over his head, and hit it with power. His son is more selective and patient at the plate. In 2021, Guerrero Jr. walked 12.3 percent of his record appearances. His father achieved that walking rate in just one of his 16 years in the big leagues.
Their behavior is also different. Guerrero Sr. was a man of few words, even among his Latino teammates. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, his nickname was “el mudo,” meaning the mute. Guerrero Jr., on the other hand, is sociable and talkative. He has emerged as a leader in the Blue Jays clubhouse, his personality bringing his teammates together.
But in so many other ways, beyond the No. 27 on the back of their shirts, they are the same. Guerrero Jr. played his 350th career game on Wednesday. The numbers of father and son through the same number of games are remarkably similar. senior hit 71 home runs, junior 76; both had 221 RBI. Vlad Sr. has the edge with an average of .306 and .905 OPS compared to .290 and .892 for his son.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is making his own way into the big leagues, escaping his father’s shadow
However, Guerrero Jr. is already doing things on the field that his father never did. Vlad Sr. played more than 2,100 games in the major leagues but never had a three-homer game; Junior has two of these now. At just 23 years old, Vlad Jr. is already a perennial MVP contender; When his father was the same age, he had only played 99 games and had 12 home runs.
From age 23 to the end of his father’s life, Vlad Sr. appeared in more than 2,000 games and added 437 of his 449 home runs. In the last 14 years of his career he reached .319 with an OPS over .930.
It would be too much for most sons to get out of the vast shadow of a father who came up with these numbers and exceeded the expectations placed on them just because they bore the same name. Not for Vlad Jr., who is quick to show he has the potential to be even better than his Hall of Famer father.
He showed why on Wednesday evening in the Bronx. His first homer was a shot into midfield that narrowly went over the wall. His second was an almost unbelievable combination of racquet control and power; Yankees ace Gerrit Cole threw him a 98 mph fastball that shot to his hands only for Guerrero to get the barrel of his bat around the ball and send it into the left field bullpen 427 feet away. His third landed on the second deck.
Babe Ruth and Ken Griffey Jr. also had two three-homer games in their careers. Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron only had one. Vlad Sr. never did. Vlad Jr., 23 years old, is in the company of legends.
Guerrero Jr. still has a long way to go before he can rival his father’s career. But after 350 games into his career, he’s right there on the same path, following his father’s lead.
For the first time, a Hall of Famer doesn’t just have to hope that his son will follow him into the big leagues. This one might even prove better, eclipsing everything his father did until the day he joins him in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
https://fansided.com/2022/04/14/vladimir-guerrero-jr-dad-blue-jays-footsteps/ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. follows closely in his father’s footsteps