April 25, 2019


Vladimir Guerrero Jr.​ joins the Blue Jays today. Toronto's new third baseman is only 20 years (and 41 days) old, but pretty much everyone in baseball except the people in the Blue Jays' front office obsessed with service time manipulation is thinking: Finally!

Last year, Guerrero hit .381/.437/.636 as he played at four levels, from rookie ball to AAA, as a teenager. His AAA stats this month with Buffalo: a 1.141 OPS with only two strikeouts in 34 plate appearances (both whiffs came in the same game).

Kaitlyn McGrath's feature story in The Athletic quotes John Schneider, Guerrero's AA manager:
[T]he plan and the adjustments on every pitch separates him from a lot of other people. ... People see the eye-popping numbers ... but the thing that sets him apart from everybody else is just how intelligent he is in terms of ... what a pitcher's trying to do to him, in terms of the feel of the game, flow of the game. Never seen a kid his age make adjustments pitch-by-pitch when he's in the batter's box the way he does ... He really, really understands the game.
Guerrero batted .402 in 62 games in AA last season. Pitcher Jordan Romano: "He was treating [the league] like it was almost slow-pitch softball."

And then there is this story, about a game from last season (looking at his game logs, it's probably August 9):
After Guerrero got fooled by the pitcher, he returned to the Bisons' dugout, went straight to his manager [Bobby Meacham] and said, "Bobby, this is what they're going to do to me."

He then proceeded to list off a pitch sequence. [Bisons outfielder Anthony] Alford was standing nearby, listening. He heard Guerrero anticipate that the pitcher was going to throw him a hanging breaking ball. And when he did, Guerrero said, he was going to hit it out of the park.

So next time Guerrero was due up, Alford sat on the dugout railing to watch intently. "I'm like, I'm going to see if they're really going to — and they did it."

The outfielder watched as the pitcher threw the exact pitches Guerrero said he would, down to, yes, a hanging breaking ball, which Guerrero launched to deep centre field.

"I was like, this kid is a prophet," Alford said. ...
This off-the-hotel (!) shot is not that home run, but just listen to the sound of him connecting ...

Emma Baccellieri, Sports Illustrated:
What The Projections Say

Let's pull two. From Steamer, hosted at FanGraphs: .308/.373/.519, with 18 HR, for 3.9 WAR. From Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA: .310/.371/.530, with 21 HR, for 3.0 WAR. (And both of these had rather conservative estimates for playing time, so feel free to mentally adjust the accumulative stats slightly upward.) This, to be clear, is rather insane. He is a 20-year-old rookie. For a player seeing major league pitching for the very first time, these projections are wild. And … they don't feel wrong?

Given everything known about Guerrero, there's nothing to suggest that he isn't capable of this kind of performance, even right out of the gate. He could finish the season with a .920 OPS and 25 HRs, and it would likely feel just about right, perhaps even a little bit underwhelming. He could finish with a 1.000 OPS and 30 HRs, and it would probably feel the same. After all, we've been told—for months—to expect generational greatness! 1.100 OPS and 35 HRs? 1.200 OPS and 40 HRs? Well, he's Vladito. Isn't this supposed to be it?

What Our Crystal Ball Says

So, in this spirit, here are four potential stat lines for his first five games ...

#4 — Game 1: 4-for-4, 3 HR, double, cures the common cold; Game 2: 4-for-4, 4 HR, unites baseball world in total awe and adoration to receive Nobel Peace Prize; Game 3: 5-for-5, 2 HR, triple, uses postgame interview to reveal true location of the lost city of Atlantis; Game 4: 4-for-4, 2 HR, walk, demonstrates that he can perfectly put a fitted sheet on a bed without any help; Game 5: 6-for-6, 4 HR, MacArthur Genius Grant

Okay. Slightly impressive. And, yet, somewhere out there, a guy wonders if it wouldn't have probably benefited the organization to give him a little more time in Triple-A.


allan said...

It's safe to say expectations are high at Bluebird Banter. Three comments:

I'll go out on a limb and predict that he won't even be in the top 10 for Cy Young…
Posted by George Miron on Apr 25, 2019 | 1:44 PM

Probably doesn't even get a single NL MVP or ROY vote either
Posted by Erik T on Apr 25, 2019 | 1:45 PM

Perhaps he will hit so well during interleague that he picks up an RoY vote or two
Posted by Siefert on Apr 25, 2019 | 1:53 PM

FenFan said...

MLB Network plans to show the Toronto game tonight. I hope to tune it for some of the game just to watch his debut. As mentioned on the thread, I saw him with AA Manchester last season and he is NOT being overhyped from what I saw.