No, I'm not saying he's the face of the game. Arguments about this are pretty boring considering there's always room to have more than one player be the "face of baseball." But Vlad Jr. is certainly now in the conversation.
In putting together one of the most memorable Home Run Derby performances in history in 2019, Guerrero showed he liked to rise to the occasion under the bright lights. Tuesday night in Denver, he showed it again, this time in the actual All-Star Game, bringing home MVP honors (and becoming the youngest player ever to do so) with his home run and two RBI.
The home run wasn't cheap, either. Check out this mammoth blast:
Vladimir Guerrero, Sr. homered in the 2006 All-Star Game. The Guerreros are now the third father-son combo to hit All-Star homers along with the Bonds and Griffeys, the two best father-son duos in MLB history.
The Guerreros probably aren't too far off. The elder Guerrero is a Hall of Famer and the son is having an MVP-caliber season -- perhaps only the two-way play of Shohei Ohtani will get in his way from taking that MVP award.
Vlad Jr. enters the season's second half second in the AL in position-player WAR, first in average, first in OBP, second in slugging (to, of course, Ohtani), first in OPS, second in runs, second in hits, second in total bases, second in homers and first in RBI. What's interesting on the MVP/father-son front is that no father-son duo has ever had both win MVPs. Guerrero, Sr. has one. These two could make history.
And Vlad Jr. is only 22 years old.
The funny thing is, heading into this season, the younger Guerrero was viewed by some as a bit of a disappointment. He was far too young to call him a bust or anything, but with Fernando Tatis, Jr. taking the league by storm and Guerrero sitting with a career .269/.336/.442 (109 OPS+) slash, there was reason to think Vlad, Jr. was going to be left behind by the likes of Tatis, Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Juan Soto.
And just as Ohtani's star has risen in a major way this season, Guerrero's gigantic breakthrough was a bit left in the rearview.
No more. The All-Star MVP performance has him on the map everywhere. If the Blue Jays can ever get back to Toronto, he'll be a rockstar there.
Obviously, to fully capture the attention of the baseball-loving world along with the casual fans, Guerrero will need to see his Blue Jays make a deep playoff run at some point with him putting up numbers while doing so. Maybe they will soon. They are a franchise on the rise, due to players like Guerrero and fellow All-Stars Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez and Marcus Semien.
For now, though, shining brightly on a national stage will have to do.
If Guerrero wasn't already on the short list of the most recognizable baseball players in the world, he sure is right now.