We knew there was some pop in Lourdes Gurriel Jr’s bat, but the type of power he’s displayed lately is pretty new for him, and it changes everything.
When Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had to be demoted to Buffalo and returned as a full-time left fielder, I worried that the over time the Blue Jays would replace him with a more powerful bat in the outfield corner.
That’s not going to be necessary at any point if he keeps performing the way he has since he’s returned.
If you’ve been paying attention at all lately then you’re more than aware than Gurriel Jr. is absolutely on fire at the plate right now. He’s pushed his .175 average before his demotion all the way up to a slash line of .309/.354/.648 with 14 home runs, 12 doubles and 33 RBI. All 14 of those home runs have come over the course of the last 31 games as well, which was when he returned from Buffalo.
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Gurriel Jr. proved that he could hit last year when he broke the rookie record for consecutive multi-hit games, and he even showed off some power by hitting 11 home runs and eight doubles in 65 games. However, what he’s doing right now is on a whole other level, and it appears that Gurriel Jr. has tapped into a power potential that I didn’t really think he had.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always believed that he could be very valuable in the Blue Jays’ rebuild, but I saw him as more of a gap power hitter that would likely hit closer to 20 home runs over the course of a full season. Right now he’s making my “scouting” abilities look like a joke, as he’s almost reached that figure in just over a month. His 14 home runs already represent a career high, and best any total he posted in the minor leagues or in Cuba.
We do have to address the elephant in the room that baseball is on an alarming pace for home runs right now. If the second half goes the same as the first then it will be a new MLB record, and the commissioner recently talked about the power surge, and that it’s possible that it comes down to baseball manufacturers getting better at “placing the pill”.
Whatever the reason, Gurriel Jr. has joined the ranks of baseball’s most dangerous power hitters in the month of June, and hopefully it’s a skill that he can hang on to and even continue to develop.
I don’t think we’re looking at a guy who is going to hit 14 home runs a month on the regular (no one does that), but if he really is a 30-40 home run type of hitter in addition to his ability to hit for average, we’re talking about an extremely valuable bat in the lineup. Add in his strong arm as the MLB outfield assist leader (again, in 31 games), and his value increases even more.
When you consider that he was struggling with the mental side of the game badly enough that he had to be sent back to Triple-A this season, it’s pretty crazy to think that there’s a real chance he could end up playing in the All-Star game. If he keeps hitting the ball with authority like this, that might not be his ceiling either.