TORONTO -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s hunt for 50 homers continues, and the Blue Jays’ superstar reclaimed the MLB home run lead on Friday night by launching No. 46.
This one looked like so many of the others, a no-doubt shot hit hard enough to blow through the wall in left field if it didn’t clear it. Leaving Guerrero’s bat at 110.7 mph, the 399-foot shot broke Guerrero’s tie with Salvador Perez (45) and now moves him two ahead of AL MVP favorite Shohei Ohtani (44).
“He keeps surprising me every day, and he keeps breaking records for his age,” said manager Charlie Montoyo after Friday’s 7-3 loss to the Twins. “I think he just tied Joe DiMaggio. That’s pretty awesome. That’s just outstanding. This guy is one of the best hitters in baseball, and at that age, that’s pretty cool.”
Montoyo is referencing the all-time record for the most home runs in a single season by a player age 22 or younger. Guerrero has now tied DiMaggio (1937) for the second-most all time, trailing only Eddie Mathews (1956).
Guerrero’s 10 home runs in his last 18 games have also positioned him to do something that only one Blue Jays hitter has done: reach that elusive 50-homer plateau. José Bautista’s club record of 54 home runs, set back in 2010, has seemed out of reach for some time now, but Guerrero still has 15 games remaining in the regular season, though, and with how he’s been swinging the bat, anything is possible.
The timing couldn’t be better, either. The Blue Jays have been riding one of their hottest stretches in years, catapulting them back into Wild Card contention as one of the most dangerous teams in baseball. With the Red Sox and Yankees both winning on Friday, the Blue Jays have slipped just out of that second Wild Card spot, trailing Boston by one game and New York by a half-game, but this race is alive and well.
It’s been all hands on deck for the Blue Jays, whose recent offensive exploits include a 22-run outburst last weekend in Baltimore to go with a pair of thrilling comeback wins, but there’s no player on this roster -- and there may be no player in baseball -- with the game-changing offensive ability of Guerrero. The 22-year-old has bigger goals, but he might just knock off some more franchise milestones along the way in 2021.