It was late March, 2018, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit the ball off Jack Flaherty — the one that electrified Montreal. You’ve seen it a million times by now. Flaherty, who starts for the St. Louis Cardinals, came home with a breaking pitch and Guerrero drove it into the same left-field seats his father used to. He might as well have hit it through time.
The often-overlooked part of that moment is the fact that Guerrero was sitting on the pitch — just a 19-year-old sitting on a slider in a 1-0 count. He felt like he had to. Guerrero had been hunting fastballs throughout his two games in Montreal but was seeing nothing but off-speed. The Cardinals weren’t messing around with him. So, before he went to the plate and launched that rocket to left, Guerrero told his teammates what he was looking for.
“I mean, Flaherty’s slider is pretty devastating. Most guys don’t see it well,” says Patrick Cantwell, a Blue Jays minor-league catcher who was with the team in Montreal. “And Vladdy just goes up there and sits on it. That’s really tough to do. It’s a little unbelievable to me. That mindset is something special. After the game, he said if Flaherty would have thrown him three fastballs over the plate, he would’ve struck out.”
It’s now 13 months later. And Guerrero’s still crushing breaking balls. Here’s one from the other night that landed somewhere near Neptune.