It was a moment that Blue Jays fans won’t soon forget, and one that they hope will ultimately represent the passing of the torch from one American League Most Valuable Player to another.
Josh Donaldson, Toronto’s 2015 MVP now with the Minnesota Twins, signed and exchanged jerseys with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is vying for his first MVP this season after a three-match series between the two teams.
The pair set up a jersey exchange on Saturday and it caused quite a stir a day later, ending an already emotional weekend with the return of Donaldson and the Jays back in the wild-card spot.
There they were – the man who last led the Jays’ World Series hopes and the man fans hope can take Toronto a step further by securing the top prize.
“He told me after that, ‘Stay focused and keep working hard until the end,'” Guerrero Jr. said after the game of his conversation with Donaldson.
Donaldson, 35, is no stranger to hearing Rogers Center fans shout “MVP, MVP” during at-bats. This time he received a standing ovation during his first plate appearance of the series, but the kind of cheer he once received was directed at the now 22-year-old Guerrero.
The veteran was everything for it. When asked on Saturday if he thought Guerrero deserved to join him and 1987 winner George Bell as Blue Jays MVP, Donaldson’s answer was clear.
“It must be so,” Donaldson said. “He’s had (a) astronomical weather from the offensive side and he’s contributing to the defensive side. That guy has got 1.000 ops at the age of 22, which is a huge contributor.”
Guerrero’s toughest competition in the race for AL MVP is Los Angeles Angels two-sided player Shohei Ohtani, who many believe is a lock for the prize as his team’s staff ace and most productive hitter. – He is doing something that has never been seen before in Major League Basketball. But Guerrero, who is vying for the Triple Crown as league leader in home runs, batting average and runs at bat, is facing increasing late-season challenges for the prize as Ohtani brushes off some late-season troubles. Is.
The number of Angels stars on the plate decreased in the second half of the season and there is talk of him being discontinued from pitching in the final part of the season due to pain in his arm. And then there’s the age-old question: Can a player be the most valuable if his team doesn’t make it to the playoffs? Guerrero and Jais very well could be; Ohtani and the Angels are not in contention after the season.
As for Donaldson, there are holes in Ohtani’s argument: he didn’t start every fifth day, with a recent injury he could miss most of September on the mound and as a designated hitter, he affected both sides. does not do. Play. Guerrero, on the other hand, is afraid to oppose a lineup unlike any other player this season, Donaldson said.
And if the Jays make the playoffs, Donaldson said, that should tip the scales in Guerrero’s favor.
“If you take Vlad out of that lineup, it’s not the same team,” Donaldson said. “It’s not that it’s not a good lineup, because it is. But what Vlad is doing… he’s that security blanket for the rest of the lineup he’s producing. He takes the pressure off everyone else.” Takes.”
Hearing that kind of praise from Donaldson, who happily reunited at the ballpark over the weekend with the familiar faces he’d known from his four years in Toronto and telling anyone who listened to Guerrero’s MVP qualification, Guerrero almost speechless but probably not surprised. Guerrero, who was signed by the Jays the same year Donaldson won the MVP in 2015, said Donaldson has been supporting his career for a long time.
“Coming from Josh, what he said is unbelievable. Especially coming from someone who’s already won MVP,” Guerrero said. “Since he was here when I was in the minors, he always gave me advice, especially in spring training. When I was playing third, helping me, taking ground balls with him. He’s always been great to me. And I really appreciate his comments.”