Vladimir Guerrero Sr. is a Hall of Famer, known for his power (449 homers), speed (181 stolen bases), his ridiculously strong throwing arm, and an impressive ability to hit balls in any part of the zone; he was a star in MLB for years.
He was just a joy to watch.
However, his son, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., has a chance to be even better.
And I know it could be better. https://t.co/CICeNeiJn9
— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) May 25, 2021
It may be a pointless comparison, since Vladdy Jr.’s big league career is just starting, but we would be remiss if we don’t point out the fact that the son has the physical tools to one day, possibly, surpass his dad’s legacy.
Two Generational Talents
Guerrero Jr. is, as of Wednesday afternoon, MLB’s home run leader with 16.
May hasn’t even ended and he is approaching 20 round-trippers!
The younger Guerrero, in the batter’s box, has it all.
This season he is hitting .337/.447/.674 with 16 homers, 10 doubles, 38 runs scored, and 41 RBI.
These numbers are impressive from every angle, but especially from a power standpoint.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays (14) pic.twitter.com/zhIkIYuS7l
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) May 24, 2021
Conditioning issues and a tendency to hit the ball hard, but on the ground, limited Guerrero Jr.’s potential in the 2019 and 2020 seasons, his first two in the big show.
But now, after working on his body and on increasing his average launch angle, Guerrero Jr. is tapping into his power.
Additionally, he has a 15.0 percent walk rate and a 14.1 percent strikeout rate.
What Guerrero Jr. is doing in 2021 when it comes to making consistent contact with the ball is more impressive than what his dad did back in the day.
Let’s explain: When Vlad Sr. played, there was more contact overall and it was more common to see hitters finish seasons with strikeout percentages around ten or 11 percent, like he did.
It was comfortably above-average, but a few others did it, even some sluggers.
The point is: A 14.1 percent strikeout rate, which is what Vladdy Jr. has in 2021, is more impressive than a 10.9 percent strikeout rate.
Different Eras Make it Difficult to Compare
The game is much more different now than 20 years ago, when Guerrero Sr. played.
The average fastball velocity has increased dramatically, pitchers know how to take advantage of spin rate, and breaking balls are incredibly nasty.
However, we also have to consider the fact that Guerrero Sr.’s 10.9 percent strikeout rate came over a full career, in the 1990s and 2000s.
That is extremely impressive.
Perhaps the best way to compare the two is including adjustments for the era difference in the equation, and that is achieved by weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+.
Guerrero’s best season per wRC+ came in 2000, with 160.
Guerrero Jr.’s best year is still ongoing, as he has a whopping 203 wRC+ so far.
The father’s career wRC+ is still better than his son’s, 136 to 127.
The younger Guerrero doesn’t have the arm of his father, yet draws more walks than him.
Speed is largely in the older Guerrero’s side, as is his track record for obvious reasons.
But make no mistake: Guerrero Jr.’s offensive excellence, now that he is hitting for power and fulfilling expectations, can one day make him better than his father.
After all, he is still, amazingly, 22 years old.