Three weeks before the playoffs, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is putting the finishing touches on an MVP-caliber season. The 22-year-old has led the Toronto Blue Jays to the top of the American League wild-card standings while contending for the Triple Crown. 

In just about any other year, Guerrero would be considered the frontrunner for the best player award in the AL. Unfortunately for the son of the 2004 AL MVP, Guerrero plays in the same league as Shohei Ohtani.

It’s a virtual lock that Guerrero will finish second in the 2021 MVP voting. Ohtani is a massive -7000 MVP favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook, indicating that the Los Angeles Angels star has the award virtually wrapped up. Guerrero is behind Ohtani with +1500 betting odds.

Three other players are a distant third with +10000 MVP odds.

Ohtani’s historic season as a two-way player appears too much for Guerrero to overcome. In contention for the home-run title with a 3.36 ERA in 21 starts, Ohtani’s stats draw legitimate comparisons to Babe Ruth. 

Guerrero is doing all he can at the plate to at least keep his name in the conversation.

In 143 games, Guerrero is hitting .318 with 45 home runs and 103 RBI. Ranking second, first and third, respectively, in those three categories, Guerrero is a real threat to become just the second Triple Crown winner of the last 53 years.

It’s been eight years since the AL MVP hit over .300 with more than 32 home runs. Alex Rodriguez was the last AL MVP to hit over .300 with at least 45 homers when he won the award in 2007. Guerrero has reached both milestones with ease. 

Guerrero’s .407 on-base percentage is easily the AL’s best. His .612 slugging percentage is one point ahead of Ohtani for the league lead. Guerrero strikes out fewer times than the sport’s other top home-run hitters. 

On Aug. 27, the Blue Jays were 6.5 games out of the wild-card race, trailing the New York Yankees by 9.5 games for the top wild-card spot. Toronto has since gone 15-2, catapulting to the No. 1 wild-card spot and in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage in the 2021 AL Wild-Card Game.

Guerrero has managed to raise his level of play during the Blue Jays’ playoff push. The first baseman is hitting .365/.412/.794 with nine home runs and 12 RBI over the past 15 days. Guerrero hit a home run Monday in Toronto’s win over the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.

Ohtani’s numbers, while incredibly impressive, have come largely in meaningless games. The Angels are three games under .500, set to miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season.

Guerrero might not win the MVP award, but his 2021 season should be remembered as one of the best of the last decade.

Shohei Ohtani Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays after Ohtani was intentionally walked during the sixth inning of game one of a doubleheader at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 10, 2021 in Anaheim, California. Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images