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Marlins witness Vlad Jr.’s breakout season for themselves

Over the course of two games against the Fish, this AL MVP candidate made his presence felt.

Jesus Aguilar #24 of the Miami Marlins and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Sahlen Field Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

The Marlins have had the luxury of evading some of MLB’s brightest stars so far this season. Christian Yelich, Juan Soto and J.T. Realmuto were each sidelined by injuries when Miami faced their teams.

However, nothing was going to keep Vladimir Guerrero Jr. off the field. He’s has not missed a Blue Jays game since the start of 2020.

Over the course of a brief two-game series, Vladdy made his presence felt. The 22-year-old son of a Hall of Famer with the same name singled, doubled, tripled and homered through the first nine innings of action, just barely missing a cycle because that production was spread across two separate nights (the Jays didn’t use their last licks in the series opener).

The Marlins were on the verge of splitting the series, leading 5-3 entering the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday. Yimi García struggled on this rainy Buffalo night, though, allowing three consecutive hits and blowing his save opportunity before even recording an out. Don Mattingly intentionally walked Guerrero, who came around to score a few minutes later on a sacrifice fly that sealed the victory for the “home” team.

Guerrero doesn’t give you much to watch in terms of fielding or baserunning, but he is a special presence in the batter’s box. Entering Thursday, he leads all qualified big leaguers with a .440 on-base percentage and .665 slugging percentage and has accumulated the highest Baseball-Reference Offensive Wins Above Replacement (oWAR) total. He rakes.

In this week’s MLB Reacts survey, Guerrero received 7% of the overall vote in response to the question, “Who is the most exciting player right now?”

The Marlins have exciting players in their own lineup, especially Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Starling Marte, both of whom homered on Wednesday. But despite their best efforts and the pending return of Elieser Hernandez from the injured list, the fanbase is split on whether to feel confident in the direction of the franchise.

A season-low 58% of Marlins fan respondents believe they are on the right track, and that was the percentage before the latest deflating loss dropped the Fish to six games below .500.

Having monitored these survey results for a few years now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a significant change to that confidence level next week. The love for the Marlins should rebound if the club takes care of business against the rebuilding Pirates...or there’s the possibility that it plummets further if this losing streak continues.

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