How Possible is Vlad Jr.’s Triple Crown Quest?
Playing at a minor league ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is making a case as one of the top hitters in all of baseball. As we approach the halfway point, Vlad is the American League leader in home runs and RBI, hits, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
With the type of season he is having, there is naturally lots of chatter about Guerrero being able to earn the Triple Crown. So close to 80 games in, just how possible is it for the 22-year old star to earn the first Triple Crown since Miguel Cabrera in 2012?
This is admittedly the hardest category for Vlad to finish the season as the leader of. In his first two years in the big leagues, he finished with a .272 and .262 average, a far cry from being in contention for a batting title.
However, Guerrero is hitting a sizzling .342 in 2021, just two points behind Michael Brantley for the league lead. It’s even more encouraging that Vlad has 34 more at-bats than Brantley as well, as chances are Brantley’s average will take a dip sooner than later.
The rest of the American League batting average leaders include Houston’s Yuli Gurriel, Boston’s Xander Bogaerts, and Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins. Out of that group, only Bogaerts has a decent track record of hitting for a high average and could be the biggest threat to Vlad Jr. winning a batting title.
Ultimately, Guerrero is probably not going to finish above a .340 average, considering he’s hitting .380 in the month of June to elevate that total. But with just seven total players in the A.L. hitting above .300, the window is more than there for him to secure a batting title.
Unlike batting average, home runs is the area where it’s the most possible to see Vlad Jr. lead the league in by the season’s end. Especially considering he has already surpassed his career-high of 15 home runs in nearly 200 fewer at-bats.
Guerrero leads the majors with 26 home runs, tied with Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. However, Guerrero has a huge edge on Ohtani due to Ohtani needing more days off throughout the season due to his pitching and the possible injury risk that comes with being a two-way player.
If Ohtani falls back, Guerrero’s closest competition in the A.L. is Oakland’s Matt Olson and Texas rookie Adolis Garcia, two players who are unlikely to surpass Guerrero, assuming all stay healthy. That bodes very well for Vlad’s prospects to knock in more homers than anyone else at season’s end.
Unlike batting average and home runs, RBI relies on other people being on base for you. So even if Vlad is racking up a ton of hits, the players in front of him in Toronto’s lineup need to help out a little if he is also going to win this category.
Fortunately, the top of the Blue Jay lineup has been better than expected. Second baseman Marcus Semien and shortstop Bo Bichette have been the first two hitters preceding Vlad, each of them hitting a solid .281 with on-base percentages of over .330. Bichette also has 12 steals, and Semien has nine, meaning they are getting into scoring position ahead of Guerrero stepping into the box.
Between all of his home runs and the table-setting of Semien and Bichette, Guerrero is currently leading the league with 66 RBI. While he’s just two ahead of Boston’s Rafael Devers and six ahead of Ohtani, Vlad has a good chance to stay in serious contention for leading this category as well.
Is his Triple Crown possible?
Not only is Guerrero winning the Triple Crown possible, but there also seems to be more reasons he can than why he can’t. He has easily been the best overall hitter in baseball this season, is only 22 years old, and is surrounded by a great supporting cast in the Blue Jays lineup.
Sure, a torrid June helped propel him to the lead or around the lead in the big three stats, but right now, I would feel comfortable saying that Vlad Jr. is the favorite to win all of these stats by season’s end and earning a Triple Crown.
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