There are no father-and-son tandems among the players enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. might be out to change that.
In a game against the Washington Nationals Tuesday night, the anchorman of the Toronto Blue Jays batting order did something his father never did: he had three home runs, including a grand-slam, in one game.
The younger Guerrero also became the youngest man in baseball history to have three homers and seven runs batted in during a single game.
He celebrated his 22nd birthday on March 16.
That’s no typo: Vlad Jr. is younger than the celebrated troika of Latino stars, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña, Jr., or Fernando Tatís, Jr.
A 6-2, 210-pound righthanded slugger who dropped 40 pounds during the winter, Guerrero broke into the big leagues during the 2019 season and hit 24 home runs in his first two campaigns. If he stays healthy, he’s virtually certain to hit many more, perhaps even doubling that production.
Playing half his home games in places like TD Park, the Dunedin, FL Class A park that also serves as spring training home of the Jays, or Sahlen Field, the minor-league facility in Buffalo, helps. The Jays are barred from their usual home, Toronto’s Rogers Centre, by Covid-19 restrictions in Ontario.
Guerrero, who has spent most of this season at first base after breaking into the big leagues at third, batted .421 with a pair of home runs during 2021 spring training and has maintained his hot pace. His batting average after the three-homer games jumped from .338 to .360. He also has seven home runs and 19 runs batted in, plus three more walks than strikeouts in 89 trips to the plate.
Before breaking out against Max Scherzer and the Nats, the powerful Dominican his resume included a pair of grand-slams and a pair of two-homer games, all done during 2019, the last full season. In fact, both slams occurred during a 10-day span of July.
When the weather warms, so does young Vlad.
Playing in Florida Tuesday night, he wiped out a 3-0 Washington lead with a grand slam in the third inning and a solo shot in the fifth, both against Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner who was also off to a strong start this season. Guerrero, Jr. connected again with a two-run shot in the seventh against reliever Kyle Finnegan.
Guerrero is one of several young sluggers who have transformed Toronto into a title contender in the American League East. Ironically, he’s also one of three sons of former stars, along with fellow infielders Bo Bichette, son of Dante, and Cavan Biggio, son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.
Because of his father’s exploits, Guerrero Jr. warrants the most scrutiny.
The original Vladimir Guerrero was the 2004 Most Valuable Player in the American League and a nine-time All-Star. A rifle-armed right-fielder, he hit 449 home runs in a 16-year career that began with the Montreal Expos. He won his MVP trophy in his first year with the Los Angeles Angels, who signed him as a free agent.
A notorious bad-ball hitter, Vlad Sr. came within one home run of a 40/40 season with the 2002 Expos. It was his second 30/30 season in a row.
While Junior seems unlikely to duplicate his dad’s daring base-stealing feats or even his .318 lifetime batting average, he could surpass his power production. Both Guerreros also served as designated hitters, allowing them to rest between at-bats.
Their historic 9-5 win Tuesday night brought the Jays to the .500 mark with an 11-11 record. They play Washington again Wednesday before taking on a weekend set against the Atlanta Braves, led by their own hot-starting kid slugger in Acuña.
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