Vladdy and Bo – A Brotherhood Rooted in Faith
The Toronto Blue Jays are in the mid-stages of a full-scale rebuild. The Jose Bautista-Edwin Encarnacion-Josh Donaldson era is long over, while fresh new faces litter both the active roster and the club’s depth chart. “Fresh” is certainly the name of the game for Toronto’s day-to-day starting lineup.
Featuring the youngest average age (26.5 years old) of any Major League Baseball club in 2021, the Jays’ batters are led offensively by two second-generation MLB stars: 22-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and 23-year-old Bo Bichette.
Guerrero – a first/third baseman who serves as the team’s designated hitter from time to time – sits atop the league leaderboard in a number of statistical categories. Through Toronto’s first 62 games, Guerrero leads the league with 20 home runs, 52 runs-batted-in, a .447 on-base percentage, a .676 slugging percentage and a 1.123 on-base-plus-slugging score.
Vladdy Jr. now joins George Bell (1987) and Carlos Delgado (2000) as the only players in team history to put up 20 home runs and 50 RBIs through 62 games to begin a season. Also of relevance, Guerrero Jr. joins Bell, Delgado and Jose Bautista (2011) on Toronto’s all-time home run leaderboard through 62 games all-time. Guerrero also became the third-youngest player in MLB history to be the first to 20 home runs across the league (Mel Ott – 1929, Eddie Matthews – 1953). He also led all players in All-Star Game votes as of June.
Bo Bichette, on the other hand, only leads all American League shortstops in home runs and RBIs. He also recently became just the third player in Blue Jays history to register a four-hit, five-run game (Orlando Hudson – 2004, Josh Donaldson – 2015). Oh yeah, he also hit the second-longest home run ever recorded at Fenway Park (468 feet) – coming up one foot shy of the record.
It’s been quite the season for the young, dynamic duo, but it isn’t only Guerrero and Bichette providing all of Toronto’s offence either. The club actually set a franchise record when seven different players hit a home run on a mid-June thumping of the Boston Red Sox. That June 13th matchup was the fourth time in the 2021 season that the Jays hit five-plus home runs in a single game. With that kind of fire-power, not only are teammates taking note, but opponents as well.
“He’s hitting the ball like it’s a balloon,” Red Sox catcher Christian Vasquez said in sheer admiration of his competitor, Guerrero, following his team’s blowout loss at the hands of the Jays. “He looks good at the plate, swinging at strikes. What can we do? Turn the page and keep trying to get him out.”
Modelling Faith for the Next Generation
What’s also important to note are a couple of trademark rituals that Bo and Vladdy fulfill while out on the field. Prior to each at-bat, Guerrero Jr. traces the letters to spell the word “Dios” (Spanish for God) in the dirt. And then following each home run, both Guerrero Jr. and Bichette cross their chests and point up to the sky as they step on home plate, signifying their praise to God for each run scored.
Both Guerrero and Bichette grew up under the guidance of MLB Hall of Fame father figures (Vladimir Guerrero and Dante Bichette). Despite being known for their on-field success, the two men were – and continue to be – instruments of faith. This behavior has clearly rubbed off on their sons Vlad Jr. and Bo.
“I comfort myself with the Bible,” Guerrero said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “It’s like having my family there… Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,” he said of Philippians 2:3. “But in humility, regard others as better than yourself.”
Apparently, Guerrero isn’t the only one reading Philippians. A verse that the younger Bichette continues to turn to is Philippians 4:6. He even has it linked in his personal Instagram page bio.
“Anybody can relate to it,” Bo Bichette told Sports Spectrum of the highlighted verse. “I deal with anxiety, nerves and everything just like everyone else does. When you rely on yourself to get over those things, it doesn’t always work.”
In managing the pressure of fulfilling his namesake and living up to the gold standard set by his father, Bichette continues to walk with God in the journey.
“I think that when you get that relationship with God, you can put things into perspective a little bit more,” he said when asked about his father in the interview. “Really, the only thing that matters is the effort you’re putting in, the person you’re being, and things like that… There’s one person you’re playing for; you’re playing for an audience of one.”
“There’s one person you’re playing for; you’re playing for an audience of one.” – Bo Bichette
Although written off from Day 1 due to a lack of experience paired with the strength of divisional competition, the Blue Jays will look to continue making a push for the 2021 MLB Postseason. And in order to accomplish that feat, the dynamic duo of Vladdy and Bo will continue leading the charge for Canada’s team.