Blue Jays: Hitting second is a great thing for Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

TORONTO, ON - MAY 11: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single in the first inning during MLB game action against the Chicago White Sox at Rogers Centre on May 11, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 11: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single in the first inning during MLB game action against the Chicago White Sox at Rogers Centre on May 11, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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After struggling a bit through his first 10 games, Charlie Montoyo moved Vladimir Guerrero Jr. up in the order and the results have been positive so far.

Prior to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. getting called up to the big leagues and making his big league debut, one of the frequently discussed topics among Blue Jay fans was where he might hit in the batting order. We’ve mostly seen him slotted in the fifth spot so far, but the last couple games he’s moved up to the 2nd spot, and the results have been promising.

The talented in the 20-year-old’s bat is pretty obvious, and yet he was getting some pretty disappointing results early on. Part of that is adjusting to big league pitching, but the bigger issue was a lack of pitches to hit, as his opposition has been showing him far more respect than a typical rookie. With good reason of course.

While some folks wondered if Guerrero Jr. could actually struggle his way back to Triple-A, Charlie Montoyo decided to take a different approach and moved him up to second in the order, hitting just ahead of Justin Smoak. On Saturday we saw his best game at the plate as a Blue Jay, earning two singles and two walks, and becoming the youngest player in franchise history to reach base four times in one game.

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This isn’t all about the move to 2nd in the order, but there are three key things that are working in Guerrero Jr’s favour as a result of Montoyo’s decision. First, instead of piling on to the frustration for Guerrero by lowering him in the lineup, or even sitting him on the bench more frequently, Montoyo showed the faith he has in the Canadian-born future star, and you’d better believe that helps Vlad Jr’s confidence.

Secondly, Vlad Jr. gets the protection of arguably the Blue Jays’ best hitter in Justin Smoak coming up behind him. Because of that, the rookie bound to see more fastballs and more strikes in general. Smoak may not be an MVP calibre hitter, but he’s good enough to keep opposing pitchers honest, and that’s enough to make an impact on Guerrero Jr’s plate appearances.

Lastly, hitting 2nd in the order will bring the talented young hitter to the plate more frequently, and even if that only results in an extra at-bat every second day, it’ll make a difference in his development. The more experience he can get this year the better, and as we saw on Saturday, the more comfortable he gets in the batter’s box the more dangerous he’ll become.

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The results haven’t been better for the team just yet, but what Guerrero Jr. has done at the plate over the last couple of games has certainly been encouraging. Hopefully it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and we’re about to see a generationally talented hitter start leading his team to a few victories.

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