Blue Jays: A look at Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s projections for 2020

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 23: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on September 23, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 23: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning during their MLB game at the Rogers Centre on September 23, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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After a rookie season with mixed results, the major projections systems expect a big step forward for budding Blue Jay star Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The 2019 season was a successful one for several young Blue Jays, even if it didn’t add up to a lot of wins for the squad. That’s the price of taking on a true rebuild, but thankfully there were plenty of reasons for optimism going forward.

While rookies like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Reese McGuire and more performed even better than expectations, one Blue Jay rookie fell a little short of the hype that he entered the league with. That doesn’t mean that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was bad last season by any means, but he was far from the potential MVP candidate that some projections systems believed he would be in 2019, even as a rookie.

Looking back on an article I wrote a year ago for example, the Steamer projections system thought he would rate as one of the top 10 hitters in all of baseball last season. That obviously didn’t happen, but again, that doesn’t mean that Vlad Jr. didn’t find any success in his first taste of the big leagues. He finished the year slashing .272/.339/.433 with 15 home runs. 26 doubles, and 69 RBI in 123 games played, good for 2.1 bWAR.

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The particularly encouraging part for Guerrero Jr. was the improvement he showed over the course of the season. In fact, after the All-Star break he hit pretty close to the type of projections that many saw for him before the season began, as he slashed .293/.349/.452 over his final 62 games played.

He’ll enter the 2020 campaign having just turned 21 on March 16th, and he’ll have nearly a full season of big league experience under his belt. Because of the expectation of natural improvements for a talent like him, and also his strong second-half performance, the majority of the projection systems see him taking a step forward next season.

Let’s have a look:

Steamer

.294./363/.501, 25 HR, 83 RBI over 539 at-bats, 3.3 fWAR

Depth Charts (Fangraphs)

.295/.363/.501, 25 HR, 84 RBI over 546 at-bats, 3.6 fWAR

Rotochamp

.296/.359/.496, 25 HR, 93 RBI over 558 at-bats

Baseball Reference

.277/.347/.462, 16 HR, 63 RBI, over 411 at-bats

Obviously the last one is the least inspiring of the four, but otherwise the majority of the systems think Guerrero Jr. will take another step toward toward stardom in 2020. He’ll need to continue to put in time on his defensive skills, and he’s probably going to be a work in progress at third base for a couple of years. However, the expectation is that he’s going to hit, and should continue to become a more dangerous threat at the plate as he matures.

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Even if Vlad Jr. didn’t dominate MLB baseball in his rookie season in the way that many of us thought he would, it was still a successful start to his big league career, especially as a 20-year-old. Just as we saw after the All-Star break, look for him to continue to make adjustments and improvements, and sooner than later, I suspect the Blue Jays will have one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball.

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