Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had already hit one home run when Aaron Hicks accidentally spiked his right hand on a play at first base in the second inning. Rather than leave the game, Guerrero stayed in and went on to hit two more homers in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 6-4 win over the New York Yankees on Wednesday night.
Guerrero went 4-for-4 with three homers and four RBIs on the night in a performance that boosted his MVP credentials and earned praise even from his opponents.
Guerrero overcomes hand injury, collects four hits
Heading into the season, Guerrero rated as the third choice for AL MVP behind two Los Angeles Angels players: defending MVP Shohei Ohtani, and three-time winner Mike Trout. After Wednesday’s performance, FanDuel Sportsbook now lists Guerrero as the +380 co-favorite alongside Ohtani and ahead of Trout (+600).
Guerrero is hitting .391 with four homers early on in the 2022 season. Much of that performance came on Wednesday night when he wowed the Yankees at the plate. He hit two homers off of New York ace Gerrit Cole who tipped his cap to the Blue Jays slugger after he got a third hit – a double – in the sixth inning.
“Did you see his night?” Cole told reporters afterwards. “If you had a cap, you’d tip it too.”
Guerrero’s big night almost came to an early end. A Bo Bichette throw pulled Guerrero across his own body, forcing him to put his hand down for balance. That’s when Hicks stepped on the hand while running through the base for an infield single.
Guerrero stayed in the game after a trainer taped up his bloody finger. He received two stitches after the game, but said he otherwise felt fine.
3 HOME RUNS TONIGHT.
VLADDY IS LIKE THAT. pic.twitter.com/MeCLoT7Bnr
— MLB (@MLB) April 14, 2022
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo praised both his hitter and his staff after the game.
“Besides Vladdy, the trainers were the MVPs tonight,” Montoyo told reporters.
Other MVP candidates off to slow starts
Guerrero has an early leg up in the MVP race, as Ohtani has started slowly at the plate. The two-way sensation is just 4-for-25 with one extra-base hit – a double – on the season. Of course, Ohtani also pitches: he took a loss in his Opening Day start, but gave up just one run in 4.2 innings while striking out nine batters.
Trout hasn’t lit up the world either. He’s hitting just .200 with one home run and a single RBI to start the year, with an .835 OPS that’s solid, but nowhere near his standards.
Byron Buxton has also improved his MVP odds early in the season. The Twins outfielder is now a +1200 choice at FanDuel after starting the year with three homers in his first six games. However, Buxton has suffered numerous injuries over his career, and he’ll need to stay healthy this year if he wants to challenge for the MVP award – or even appear in his first All-Star Game.