Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. debuted in the major leagues to great fanfare in 2019. The son of a Hall of Famer, Guerrero earned his first promotion toward the end of April – only one month after his 20th birthday. He joined the Blue Jays despite limited experience in Triple-A Buffalo, where he garnered just 162 plate appearances from 2018-19. The sample size may have been small, but Guerrero nonetheless ran roughshod over the highest level of the minors, thereby convincing the Blue Jays he was ready for prime time.
Thanks in part to his stellar production at lower levels, Guerrero was considered an all-world prospect at the time of his promotion. Indeed, four different outlets (Baseball America, MLBPipeline.com, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus) ranked him as the game’s premier farmhand at the time. Guerrero ultimately didn’t make an enormous impact as a rookie, hitting .272/.339/.433 with 15 home runs in 514 trips to the plate, but that production’s still nothing to scoff at for a first-year man who was among the youngest players in the league last season.
Set to turn 21 on March 16, Guerrero figures to be one of the sport’s most fascinating sophomores in 2020, and the revamped Jays are no doubt hoping he’ll help key a resurgence for the club. For what it’s worth, the big-bodied Guerrero has come to camp in better shape this spring, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet wrote last month. The slimmer Guerrero’s now aiming to increase his launch angle, Andrew Stoeten of The Athletic recently relayed.
Guerrero’s mean launch angle checked in at just 6.7 degrees last year, while his expected weighted on-base average (.330, compared to a .329 real wOBA), average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage all hung around the league’s 50th percentile, per Statcast. However, heading into Year 2, projection systems are bullish. ZiPS, for instance, calls for a .285/.349/.497 line (121 wRC+) with 25 home runs in 571 trips to the plate. Those aren’t superstar-level numbers, but they would represent a nice step forward for such a young hitter.
All that said, let’s hear from you on how you expect Vlad Jr. to perform at the plate this season. Where will his OPS land? How many homers will he hit? (Poll links for app users)
What is OPS
Bill the Cat
On-Base % plus Slugging %
I’m looking for the HR department
Baby dont hurt me, dont hurt me, no more
This year I’m going to hit something like .287/.371./.510+with 29Hr 34doubles and 97RBI.
Too high imo
.250 with 19 homeruns and 30 doubles with 72 rbis
Darth Vlader- “When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master.”
I was expecting him to be another Acuna Jr. or Soto type talent who would hit the ground running but he was surprisingly bad. He’ll be better in 2020 but not sure if he’s going to meet those expectations.
Baseball is not an easy game. The best in the game can hit a slump. The kid is young and still learning how pitchers operate at this level. I’m always impressed with rookies who step in and are able to dominate big league pitchers because early on pitchers usually have quite a big advantage. It usually takes a few seasons for hitters to adjust to the speed and movement of big league pitching. A sub-superstar rookie campaign is no judgement on the player Vlad Jr will be over his career. His talent is undeniable.
Expectations for this kid were so high, there is no possible way he could have lived up to them. A lot of professional sportswriters were projecting this kid to win the AL batting title last year before he ever played a major league game. The game of baseball at the major league level is not that easy. Even Acuna and Soto were not THAT good. I wouldn’t put either of their rookie seasons in the top 10 for outfielders over the past 25 years and they were both outstanding.
The hype for these guys has just gotten so big that they can’t possibly live up to it unless they have a Fred Lynn or Mike Trout or Ichiro type rookie year. Those type of years come around once in a generation, not once a year. We probably won’t see another one for 5-10 years or so.
.272/.339/.433 as a 20 year old rookie is not “bad” by any stretch of the imagination
The analysts on tv now consider .240 Ba respectable.
Well .240 as long as you’re hitting 30 home runs. Without power numbers you’re out of a job.
His bat speed and exit velocity is undeniably superior to just about anyone in the league. A slow start and a brutal September slump brought his numbers down to still slightly about average as a 20 year old kid, in a lineup that had little protection and the worst team average in the entire league, he also received the lowest percentage of pitches in the strike zone of any player. DO NOT sleep on the kid, He’s STILL going to be an absolute stud.
His average exit velocity was 103rd in MLB at 89.4 mph. He hit one ball very hard, but his average is way down the list. .
His fitness level seemed to be the real question mark last year.
Before the grind of the season got to him, his hard hit % was in the top 20 range. Pitchers started figuring him out, he started pressing a bit, other factors come to mind, but I think the fitness level was the defining factor.
He actually had 3 of the top 8 highest exit velocity’s last year, you’re talking average exit velocity which was obviously brought down by soft contact, but when he barrels the ball nobody hits it harder except maybe Stanton.
Remember when we didn’t know any better and thought that batting average was how we determined what a “good hitter” was? Give me a .240 hitter, with a .360 on base percentage and 35 HR’s any day over a .300 singles hitter who doesn’t walk much.
There’s way more than what you mentioned; who strikes out more? What do they do with RISP? Do they make contact to drive in the runner from 3rd?
There’s more to hitting than taking a walk.
There’s more to hitting than taking a walk. And there’s more to hitting than a Batting Average. It’s not one or the other. A raw batting average doesn’t tell you any more than a raw OBP.
Dwight Smith batted .241 on the season. What did he bat with RISP? .337
It wasn’t that we didn’t know better. It was that people were able to calculate BA without readily available computers. People did not get smarter in the last 20 years. Computers changed baseball stats, people are just as dumb as ever.
Hello hiflew – agreed with you in some respects – but at the moment who programs the computers? It’s not the computers themselves – yet…
The explosion of metrics (which IMHO Baseball led) is now infused in all pro sports. When did rebounds or sacks start getting counted? We’re now onto xwoba, babip, virus (viable insurance runs under stress) and chlamydia (concerted hitting lamentably and (my)opic diametrics in Atlanta) – this one is why Muncy hit Bumgarner into the pacific NOT the Atlantic ocean….
Sacks started in the 70s I believe. Rebounds way before that.
I agree that there are some people that have the ability to compute the advanced metrics, but they are few. The big thing I was referring to is that a lot of people read a number on Fangraphs and then talk about it as if they calculated it themselves. Take away computers and calculators and 90% of baseball fans will be back to figuring ERA and BA and not much more.
BTW – truly laughed out loud at chlamydia.
Take away computers and no one will buy stocks for their personal accounts. Take away computers and the post office will be king.
This is progress.
hiflew – thank you. I am tempted to start a web site with such ludicrous acronyms. I guess we’re both thinking “What is wrong with eyesight?”
Take away computers and you won’t know what the game of baseball is, since you don’t watch bigz. Nice silly comment above BTW. No kidding there’s more to hitting than batting average. Just pointing out not to overvalue a walk like you and others do. And yes, you do.
MLBTR’s most sensitive blowhard is back!
Don’t you dare call this idiot out on his crap! WAJGH doesn’t have the self confidence to hear someone disagree with his assumptions!
Typical Trim Jargon. My fault on thinking you may have moved past the nonsense. . See ya dink.
Assume, I really never left. Are you ok?
.360 with 35HR sounds sweet even if he chokes with runners on!
But if that .300 singles hitter who doesn’t walk much happens to steal 40 bags and has a rocket arm in right then I’m voting him into the HOF!
He has no track record for how he starts a season but if he can have the power stroke working early, I can see him having a very nice season. Free-swingers need to be seeing the ball right away in order to be successful. We will know by his swinging strike total as to whether he is feeling for the pitch or seeing the pitch.
Whatever it may be, it won’t be better than Keston Hiura.
RKO out of nowhere!
He may improve, but..it’s going to take a lot more application. Natural talent alone won’t cut it in the bigs. Unfortunately, based on his conditioning (or lack of), he hasn’t shown much of an ability to knuckle down in pretty basic elements of professionalism.
When you’re 20 years old and already in such poor shape, that you’re a candidate to be moved off 3B and onto 1B/DH, that’s bad. His weight very obviously affects his movement and ability to get to balls..at an age when he should be the most spritely of his career.
Any inside notes on his work ethic? It doesn’t look like he has one.
Yeah that’s why he hit The Show when he was 20… I wish you could see my eyes rolling.
And teams haven’t picked you up for their scouting department yet? Must be a lack of professionalism or not knuckling under. Goof.
Lol you don’t make it to the highest level of any sport without work ethic.
Thank you Johnny Superscout !
All American Johnsonville Dogs
Lmao. Vlad Guerrero jr is 6’2 250lbs.
His dad was 6’3 about 240lbs.
They’re big dudes. Has nothing to do with being out of shape or lack of work ethic.
Jr is out of shape indeed. Very. He is like a Prince Fielder, without his numbers yet.
One of the most incredible things I’ve read, is an article from just prior to Vlad Jr debuting in the Majors. In an interview, Jr admitted that he had never worked out in a gym before.
He had already been in the Blue Jays organization for over 3 years at that point. 3 years as a professional baseballer, and not once had he been to the gym. Now, he’s pretty badly overweight and that interview looks awful for him.
His weight was a serious topic among the Expos training staff; Guerrero was regularly urged to lose the weight to maintain his speed and lengthen his career.
All American Johnsonville Dogs
In his 16-year career, Guerrero hit an astounding .318 with 449 home runs and 1,496 RBI despite a strike zone that went from the ankles to the shoulders on his 6-foot-3 frame.
HOF 16 year career weighing about the same.
Yeah “out of shape” and lack of work ethic clearly were issues those 16 years……
But yet hes in the Hall of Fame, I guess he did OK?
Vlad Jr, this year, became the first player in in MLB history to weigh 250+ lbs while still 20 years old. No one that heavy at that age has ever done it.
Also, Vlad Sr filled out a quite a lot as the years went on. His scouting reports are pretty clear that he had filling out to do. Vlad Jr is already struggling to keep his under control – so much so that even though the Blue Jays updated his public listing from 210lb to 250lb just prior to his MLB debut, anyone with eyes can see he’s heavier than that.
He will hit, he’s an incredible hitting talent. But that’s only half of the game.
Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
I think year 3 will be when Vlad Jr has his big breakout. This year will be a slight increase in his numbers from last year with better defense at 3B.
I agree with you. I believe his batting average will probably fall short of the .285 projection, but it’s a meaningless stat anyway. He’ll make a jump in the HR and OPS totals though, which will be key. For his age, he’ll have a great year. I could see year 3 as the year he really puts it all together, however.
He, along with Eloy Jimenez, are prime candidates for sophomore slumps. They had decent, but not great rookie year stats. The league catches up with guys like that in their 2nd year. That doesn’t mean they won’t eventually turn into stars, perhaps even more than that. But I wouldn’t bet anything on them this season. Just my opinion.
Prime candidate for a slump?
He put up league average numbers in MLB as a 20 year old. Putting up numbers like that in AA at 20 would have had him on top 100 prospect lists.
He’s crazy talented and as he gets used to the league should do big things.
But he’s not in AA anymore. Big league pitchers are better at figuring out how to get guys out on a regular basis. I agree that he is crazy talented, but he is going to be facing a lot of crazy talented as well. He’s not going to be able to coast like some do in the lower minors.
Look at Eloy’s September numbers and realize how silly you sound. Eloy had some injuries last year, but he got healthy and then the production came. He hits a lot of oppo HRs.. that doesn’t slump
September numbers are fools gold.
Vlad Guerrero is already a better hitter than Nolan Arenado. Vlad and about 10 other third baseman.
Not even worth the time to argue against. Have a nice day.
You don’t have an argument but my day has been pretty good.
I’d give you Bregman and Rendon if we’re just talking better hitters. Barely but I could see it.
Going forward, I could see including Devers, Chapman, Guerrero, but Arenado has a bit of a track record that pulls some weight for me.
Donaldson, Bryant, Turner could take him in a given month but overall consistency counts for a lot!
Who’d I miss?!
Rendon, Bregman, Bryant, Turner, Devers, Vlad, Machado, Suarez, Moncada, Donaldson, with arguments for Chapman and Ramirez.
Look at road stats. Coors is a hitting haven and skews the numbers. Arenado is usually the best home hitter out of all 3B and rarely breaks the Top 10 on the road. Most of these guys are consistently ranked. Turner hits better on the road, usually. Donaldson was awful on the road last season but I give him the benefit of the doubt because he is Josh Donaldson. Hunter Dozier could be on that list too.
Wander Franco, baby!!!!
Vlad is still learning. He’s had incredible success in the minors and finally found competition to test him. This is a good thing. Nothing came easy and he had so much to learn. He will continue to improve in 2020 and we should expect him to emerge in 2021. He is still a very young man.
I went 31-36 in the poll. I think he’ll be around low 30s for homers.
How many digital trees died from all the accusation of service time manipulation because everyone but the Jays KNEW he was ready for MLB?
I think he’ll have about a .865 OPS and 28 HRs in 2020 taking another step forward, and then I think he goes big in 2021 finishing top 5 in the MVP voting and becoming the superstar we all want him to be.
here come the naysayers…
dynamite drop in monty
Nay, I say!
Top 5 MVP voting. He is going to lead the Jays back into contention very soon
He’s very similar to Miguel Cabrera with his approach. Great eye, great plate coverage, spoils some great pitches and great ability to take outside pitches the opposite way.
Obviously from the HR derby he has a tonne of power… but he sacrifices power for contact in games so might never be the HR guy that he could be. But if he can learn to spoil those good pitches while still turning on the bad ones (like Cabrera did) he could be an absolute monster.
I think he can put it all together at the plate this year, but the defense will still be ugly.
Is he slimmer? He looked huge to me on that missile he hit two days ago. And for people comparing his body to his dad’s they’re not the same. Vlad Sr. was lanky and trim especially when he was young. Vlad is 250+ at 21.
Someone above said Vlad Jr. is 6’2 250 while his dad was 6’3 240. Similar.
He’s piled on weight in the last few years – that’s not baby fat, that’s fat.
From a year ago today, yes. From mid-season in 2019? Not sure.
he’ll hit as many hr’s as the circumference of his rear end. dude has the biggest caboose in mlb
I won’t try to make an sort of concrete prediction in terms of stats, but I think he’ll be better this season. I think that this year he has a lot of things going for him including: no longer having the pressure of everyone awaiting his arrival in Toronto, and now having some experience in the Majors where he’s seen a lot of these big time pitchers for the first time. Keep in mind that he also debuted nearly a month before Biggio and three months before Bichette did last season;
I think that as this trio gains more experience together (and add Gurriel Jr.’s positive steps on both sides of the ball after a move to LF) they’ll just positively affect each other. The Jays lineup still needs some help but I think that 1-4 in the order (Bichette, Biggio, Vlad and Gurriel Jr.) should be a big bright spot in 2020. Add to that if Shaw can get hit like his career average (excluding last season’s train wreck) he’d be a boon to the middle third of the lineup to make everything more difficult for opposing pitchers.
I’d like at add Jansen to the core. He won’t be in the top of the line up, but he will be a fixture in the lineup for years to come.
Slow first year, but not terrible. But will anyone be truly surprised if he tears it up?
AL East will be cutthroat. Plus Baltimore.