Vladimir Guerrero Jr. now sits just 1,405 stolen bases shy of Rickey Henderson for the most in Major League history.
Guerrero’s first career steal came in the middle of the wildest inning this Blue Jays season has seen, as they piled up 10 runs in the sixth against the Yankees to set up a 12-7 win. It caught everyone at Sahlen Field off guard, too.
Built more for home run trots than swiping second, Guerrero might be the last player on the roster you’d expect to see on the move from first base with an average sprint speed of just 25.3 feet-per-second, according to Statcast, which ranks him in the 19th percentile of speed in MLB. It’s a move that Charlie Montoyo was open to, though, because Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino was on the mound.
“Sometimes, he can be really slow to the plate, and he was on that one,” Montoyo said. “I told [first-base coach] Mark Budzinski that if he was going to be that slow, Guerrero could go. And he did. It turned out big.”
Finding those situational advantages is one of the spots coaching shows itself clearest within the game, and Montoyo wanted to make it clear that, even if Guerrero hadn’t beaten the throw, it wouldn’t be on him.
“If he gets thrown out, it’s on me, so don’t put it on the kid. He doesn’t have a green light,” Montoyo said with a laugh. “That’s a deal with the coach.”
Guerrero’s feet give him some short-area quickness, but speed on the bases has never been his game. The right spot can make up for a lack of blazing speed, though, which other Blue Jays have figured out, too. Cavan Biggio swiped third earlier in the game, moving him to a perfect 19-for-19 in his MLB career, and that’s the specific type of aggression Montoyo wants to see from his young team after they’ve lost some runs on the bases this season by pushing too far.