Many signs are pointing to a huge season from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2024

Photo credit:© Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
It smells like 2021.
During the shortened 2020 season, the Jays made it into the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Now, there were some shenanigans as to why they made it, namely that the season was only 60 games long, and eight teams made it to the postseason instead of just five in the seasons prior and the 2021 season itself.
However, after missing the playoffs for three seasons, it was expected that the Jays’ 2020 postseason would be a short one. That came true, as they lost in two games to the American League-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
There weren’t a lot of expectations heading into the 2021 season, especially with a weak rotation and an awful bullpen after the first month. However, Robbie Ray came out of nowhere to win the American League Cy Young award and Marcus Semien finished third in MVP voting with a career-high 45 home runs. All in all, the Jays fell one game short of a Wild Card spot and would’ve made it if the new format came a season earlier.
With all that, there was one key cog in the machine, one spoke on the wheel, that made the 2021 Blue Jays exceed expectations. Vladimir Guerrero Jr performed like the generational talent he was supposed to be.
After the 2019 season, Guerrero Jr. graduated from one of baseball’s top prospects and slashed .262/.329/.462 with nine homers in 243 plate appearances during the plague season for his then-highest wRC+ of 110. Depending on who you ask, the first baseman was a “bust”, but that all changed in 2021.
It appeared that Guerrero Jr. tried to slim down prior to the 2020 season, before the whole pandemic thing. However, he made it a reality in 2021 and it paid off tremendously, as it was his first and only season where he had MVP consideration. In 2021, Guerrero Jr. slashed .311/.401/.601 with 48 home runs in 698 plate appearances, along with a 12.3 BB% and a 15.8 K%. This gave him a career-high 166 wRC+ and a 6.3 fWAR, which is more than all of his other four seasons combined.
Of course, there were some caveats to his fantastic season. For starters, the Blue Jays played the first portion of their season in Dunedin at TD Park, as well as Buffalo at Sahlen Park. Guerrero Jr. still hit well at major league ballparks, as he slashed .296/.379/514 with 27 home runs, with 10 of them coming at Rogers Centre, but it is of note.
Guerrero Jr.’s 2022 season wasn’t bad by any means, but it was a downgrade from his 2021 season. The first baseman slashed .274/.339/.480 with 32 homers in 706 plate appearances, along with an 8.2 BB% and a 16.4 K% for a 133 wRC+ and a 2.8 fWAR. It was his second-best season and was better than most player’s seasons, but still not what you’d expect from a generational talent.
By that standard, his 2023 season was awful. Last season, Guerrero Jr. slashed .264/.345/.444 with a team-leading 26 home runs in 682 plate appearances, along with a 9.8 BB% and a 14.7 K% for a 118 wRC+ and a 1 fWAR. Now, it’s worth mentioning that Guerrero Jr. said he battled injuries that included a knee injury early in the season, but yeah, the MVP-calibre Guerrero Jr. may never shop up again… maybe.
There’s a feeling heading into the 2024 season, similar to the one ahead of the 2021 season. After a couple of ho-hum results from their star slugger when he came up in 2019 and 2020, Guerrero Jr. has slimmed down and looks to be in great shape. He also noted that he’s going into 2024 with a similar mindset to the one he had before that 2021 breakout. 
“In 2021, I prepared myself without thinking about all of those numbers that I could [put up],” Guerrero said through a club translator. “This year, I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to do the same thing.’ I’m not going to think about anything, mentally, about putting up numbers. I think it might work out. Maybe the same numbers, maybe better.”
Even with the 2024 team, a certain feeling comes back. The Blue Jays had the expectations of making the playoffs, but probably not making it far in 2021. Even though they failed that expectation, the 2021 season has arguably been their best chance at making a run in the postseason. 
As World Series expectations and aspirations continued to grow, the Blue Jays failed to capitalize on their chances. In the 2022 playoffs, the Jays were snuffed out after a blown lead and a George Springer injury. They never even had a chance in 2023 as they went out with a whimper, and it didn’t help that Guerrero Jr. was picked off at second base during a rally.
Maybe, all the Jays need is an atmosphere with no expectations, similar to the 2021 season. And, well, they also have a much better team than the 2021 Jays, even if they didn’t make a big addition this off-season… yet.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.


Check out these posts...