Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a lot of hype to live up to, being a top prospect in baseball and the son of a Hall of Famer.
He's done exactly that, though – he finished in second place in the AL MVP voting in 2021 behind Shohei Ohtani. He led all of MLB with 48 homers that year, and his .401 on-base percentage and .601 slugging percentage were both tops in the AL.
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In his 504 career games, he's hitting .284 with an .862 OPS, but no matter what numbers he puts up, there is one team he will never do it for.
“I like to kill the Yankees. I would never sign with the Yankees, not even [when I’m] dead,” Guerrero said.
Guerrero added that he does like to play in New York – he hits .289 with 10 homers and a .922 OPS in 31 games at Yankee Stadium. But putting on the pinstripes is just not an option.
Ken Griffey Jr. said something similar during his heyday, saying he would retire if the Yankees were the only team to offer him a contract – but he had a pretty good reason.
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“I came up to visit my dad, and it was just me and him. I got to the ballpark early, and I'm sitting in the dugout, and the security guard comes over and says, ‘[Then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner] doesn't want anyone in the dugout.'” Griffey Jr. said, remembering a time when his father, Ken. Sr., was on the Yankees. “My dad was like, ‘What? He's my son.' So he goes, ‘Alright, hey go in my locker. But before you go, look at third base.' It's Graig Nettles' son taking ground balls at third base.
“And at that time, my dad was 38 years old, he's like, ‘I ain't fighting this no more. I got somebody a little younger. And a little bit better.'
“There's certain things a dad drills into you as a kid that just sticks with you. And [to beat the Yankees] was one of them.”
Guerrero will not reach free agency until after the 2025 season, but he is not against staying with the Toronto Blue Jays for his entire career.
“I feel really happy playing here,” Guerrero Jr. said. “I hope something can be done about it this offseason.”
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After a season where he would have won MVP had there not been an elite pitcher and hitter also playing in the AL, he did take a step backwards this past season.
The Blue Jays were slated to turn a lot of heads but were swept in the AL wild card round, as Guerrero Jr. hit .274 with an .818 OPS in the regular season.