Vlad Jr. is only a rookie. He's just turned 20. Still, we can't help but wonder what we should expect this season.
Call him baseball's savior, the next face of the game or just another rookie out to prove himself. It doesn't matter. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the buzziest name in Major League Baseball right now, so we thought it'd be appropriate to discuss what we should reasonably expect to see from the 20-year-old in his rookie season.
Expect everything? Expect nothing? Expect obscurity? Our staff stakes a claim across the spectrum.
I am sorry to say that I think we should expect him to toil largely in obscurity. Other than avid Blue Jays watchers, fans will likely see his highlights on Twitter a few times a month and otherwise not much else. Toronto is at least a year away from relevance as a team, and until it returns to contention, Guerrero Jr. will only hold casual fans' attention for so long. Even when its star is sending baseballs into the United States, who wants to watch a club slated to finish fourth in its division? Once the team makes a run in a year or two, though, the general public will rediscover him and will be delighted by what it sees.
We still have plenty of reason to expect some seriously flashy numbers from Vladito. But, beyond all the anticipated statistical glory, I think the biggest guarantee is fun. It's something that's been in short supply for the last two seasons in Toronto, and Guerrero is a lock to bring it back. It was evident just from his first series—there was so much joy around everything he did, both from his teammates and himself, that it was virtually impossible to watch without cracking a smile. Sure, there will very likely be a ton of monster dingers to enjoy, too, but baseball doesn't have to wait for him to go yard to realize how much spirit he brings to the game.
I'm fully expecting him to be the latest player in a recent tradition that includes Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña Jr., Aaron Judge, Kris Bryant and Corey Seager. All of those players raked in the minors, then had immediate, immense success as rookies. Anecdotally, elite-pedigree prospects seem more ready than ever to transition to MLB upon their arrival. Vlad Jr. is going to be the most recent proof of what's becoming a fact of life across the league. There won't be anything other than minimal growing pains here. Vlad Jr. will be an instant star.
It's hard to control hype. It's especially dangerous in baseball, where it can build for years as a player dominates all levels of the minors. Then they're expected to show up on their first day in the big leagues and look like a perennial MVP candidate. Hello, Vlad Jr.
We should expect the young phenom to show plenty of promise. That's it. We should hope to see the occasional monster dinger, stellar defensive play and even a humorous gaffe or two on the field. The best we, as baseball fans, can hope for is the promise that the game has a new face who will start conversation for years to come. Don't expect Vlad Jr. to top Aaron Judge's rookie home run record. Expect entertainment.
Expectations for Vlad Guerrero Jr.'s rookie season are insurmountable. We've heard for over a year now that baseball's top prospect was MLB ready. We heard constant Vladito chatter about when the Blue Jays would finally call him up. We saw the viral videos: the Hammered Hotel highlight, the walk-off dinger on his Hall of Fame dad's old stomping grounds, and a moonshot that left the stadium. We knew his name and saw his namesake play. The hype was so grandiose that we forget the dictionary definition of "rookie" does, in fact, apply to baseball's 20-year-old savior. Naturally, there will be hiccups and growing pains; we should expect all of that, too. So what should we expect from Vlad Jr.? Everything. The good, the bad and everything in between.