Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. continues scorching start with longest MLB homerun against Royals

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On Thursday night, the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals opened their four-game weekend streak at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals jumped all over Blue Jays starter Anthony Kay (and long reliever Tanner Roark) early in the innings, and the relievers’ box held up for a 7-5 win (score from the box). Kansas City has won three straight games and four of its last five games.

For the Blue Jays, the star of Thursday’s game was 22-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Guerrero, who missed a cycle treble to continue his melting start to the season. The home run, a 456-footer from Kyle Zimmer in the seventh inning, was the longest home run of his big league career. Check it out:

Goodness. And to think that it wasn’t even Guerrero’s worst hit bullet of the night. His fourth inning brace left his bat at 113.9 mph. The home run had an exit speed of 112.8 mph. Here are the five longest runs of Vlad Jr’s young career:

  1. 15 avril 2021: 456 feet against the Royals (Kyle Zimmer)
  2. May 14, 2019: 451 feet against the giants (Reyes Moronta)
  3. August 1, 2019: 450 feet against Orioles (Dillon Tate)
  4. July 20, 2019: 441 feet against the tigers (Gregory Soto)
  5. May 14, 2019: 438 feet against the giants (Nick Vincent)

The May 14, 2019 home runs were the first two home runs of Guerrero’s career, so before Thursday his second career home run was the longest of his career. This is no longer the case.

The 3 for 5 with a double and a home run on Thursday brought Vlad Jr.’s hitting line of the season to .413 / .526 / .674 in 13 games. It’s a cool 1,200 OPS on the nose. He’s 15 for 31 (0.484) in his last eight games and has almost as many walks (nine) as strikeouts (10) over the year. It didn’t come out of nowhere either – Guerrero hit .286 / .351 / .507 in his last 39 games last season.

Vlad Jr. has consistently ranked among the league’s exit sprint leaders since his MLB debut two years ago. His career-average 90.6 mph exit speed is one of baseball’s top 30 marks since joining, and Guerrero is one of only three players to have multiple balls hit over 118 mph since 2019. , joining Giancarlo Stanton and Pete Alonso.

Hitting the ball strong has never been a problem with Guerrero. He was held back by his tendency to hit the ball on the ground more than anything. Guerrero posted a 51.3% ground ball rate from 2019-20, well above the league average of 43.0. No matter how hard you hit the ball, your power output will be limited when you land it on the ground so often.

Including Thursday night, Guerrero now has a 41.7% ground ball rate at the start of the season. This is more in line with the best powerful hitters in the game. That ball-to-ground rate combined with Vlad Jr.’s natural ability to hit the ball hard (as well as his knowledge of the strike zone and his contact skills. underestimated) are a recipe for 30 circuits, easy.

Development is not linear, and the fact that Guerrero was seen as a bit of a disappointment hitting .269 / .336 / .442 (109 OPS +) during his 21-22 seasons is a testament to the high regard that ‘he was as a prospect. However, there has always been a monster lurking beneath the surface. Two weeks into the 2021 season, it looks like Vlad Jr.’s long-awaited escape is here.

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