The Toronto Blue Jays are viewed across the Major League Baseball landscape as a team on the rise, and they are one of the favorites to win the World Series this season. A primary reason is an emerging superstar hitter, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. After finishing second in the MVP voting in 2021, Guerrero is playing even better in the early going this year and looks ready to carry his growing team for years to come.
To celebrate the rise of this current and future superstar slugger, DraftKings Marketplace is partnering with Vladdy Jr. to release a unique set of NFTs. Metabilia Membership NFTs are athlete-specific passes that enable owners to continue receiving event-based NFTs all season long. These additional airdropped NFTs are free and creatively capture milestones from the past and present of the player’s career journey. The Membership passes & event-based NFTs consist of three unique Rarities – in order of scarcity: Black, Platinum and Green. You can join this elite and exclusive cohort to follow along with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s career with unique event-based NFTs as the season progresses.
Guerrero has been in the spotlight since he first started swinging a bat due to his place in a prominent baseball family. His father Vladimir Guerrero Sr. was one of the best hitters of his generation and played 16 seasons in the Majors with the Expos, Angels, Rangers and Orioles. The nine-time All-Star was known as one of the best bad-ball hitters ever, often chasing pitches wildly out of the strike zone but still hitting them hard and sometimes even out of the park. Vladdy Sr. retired as the all-time MLB leader in hits for a Dominican-born player (since passed by Adrián Beltré) and hit an impressive 449 career home runs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame during his second year on the ballot in 2018.
In 1999, Guerrero Sr.’s third full season in the Majors, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was born in Montreal, forever tying him to Canada, where his Major League career would also begin many years later. As soon as Vladdy Jr. was big enough to walk, he was a fixture in the Expos’ clubhouse and a regular around the team. When it was clear the elder Guerrero was going to leave the Expos as a free agent, the team had a send-off day for him on the final day of the regular season in which Vladdy Jr. ran onto the field in a mini Expos uniform and saluted the crowd alongside his dad in a now-iconic image.
As he was growing up, Vladdy Jr. was never pushed by his father to play baseball and didn’t have the same economic imperative that drove his dad to rise from poverty in the Dominican Republic. Instead, he was drawn by a love of the game that has stuck with him throughout his rise to the Majors. Guerrero Jr. is known for putting in lots of time in the batting cage and honing his swing to just the right launch angle and exit velocity. His parents split up when he was young, and his relationship with his father does not seem to be extremely close at this point, but there is definitely a similar full-effort, all-out abandon to each of the Guerrero’s swings that has already made them one of the most productive father-son duos to ever play the game, even though it seems like Jr. is just getting started.
The younger Guerrero’s professional career began in 2015 when he was first old enough to be an international free agent. At just 16, he inked a deal with the Blue Jays that included a $3.9 million signing bonus. With such a recognizable name, he was an immediate attraction and quickly started to earn his way onto many top prospects lists. He was ESPN’s Prospect of the Year in 2016 and the top prospect in the Blue Jays’ system in 2017 by Baseball America. After being slowed a little bit by injury, Vladdy Jr. was ready to make his MLB debut on April 24, 2019, just a month after his 20th birthday.
Vladdy Jr. didn’t have instant consistent success in his rookie year, but he did have some memorable highlights. He became the youngest player in Blue Jays’ history to hit a home run when he hit his first MLB home run on May 14 at 20 years and 59 days of age. He also put on a show in the Home Run Derby as a rookie, breaking the single-round home run record with a total of 40 home runs after three overtimes in the semifinals. He lost to Pete Alonso in the finals but continued to establish himself as a top power prospect. While hitting .272 with 15 home runs that season, Guerrero also staked his claim as the king of exit velocity by hitting a ball at 118.9 miles per hour, the hardest-hit ball by any player during the season.
During the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season and the 2021 season, Guerrero transitioned from 3B to 1B, and he also started a different training program that resulted in him dropping 42 pounds. The 2021 season was Guerrero’s best statistical performance to date and earned him a second-place finish in the MVP voting, behind only Shohei Ohtani. He declined an invite to the 2021 Home Run Derby but was easily voted as a started to the All-Star Game and won MVP honors with a home run, becoming part of just the third father-son duo to hit home runs in All-Star Games. He also hit 40 home runs in 2021 to join Vladimir Guerrero Sr. as only the second father-son duo to have 40 home run seasons, joining Cecil and Prince Fielder. At the end of the year, Vladdy Jr. tied for the league lead in home runs while leading the league in runs scored and total bases. His .311 batting average, .290 ISO and .419 wOBA were all huge steps forward for Vladdy Jr. and locked him in as one of the best hitters in the game. It’s still early in the 2022 season, but so far his numbers are on par with that breakout season, and he is well on his way to showing that breakout campaign was no fluke.
Possibly the scariest thing about Guerrero Jr. to opponents right now is that he is still only 23 years old. For comparison, the No. 2 overall prospect in all of baseball, Adley Rutschman is more than a year older and has yet to make his MLB debut. While every player’s path is different, that fact just shows how much potential upside there still is for Vladdy Jr. and how long he will continue to be an offensive force in the Majors.
Make sure to take advantage of this offer in the DraftKings Marketplace to enjoy what should be an exciting season for Guerrero in a unique and exciting way.
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