Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has to lift the ball better to improve

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 16: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single in the fifth inning during a MLB game against the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre on August 16, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 16: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single in the fifth inning during a MLB game against the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre on August 16, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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The advanced metrics indicate that Toronto Blue Jays young slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has to lift the ball better to improve in 2020.

Enos Sarris of The Athletic, authored an incredible piece recently highlighting five players poised for a bounce-back campaign in 2020. Blue Jays phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was predicted to have the biggest positive influx in WAR total according to Steamer Projection on Fan Graphs, however, upon further review, the metrics did not support the projected WAR.

Vladdy is projected to be a 3.6 WAR player in 2020 which is a 3.2 difference from the 0.8 WAR he compiled in 2019. Guerrero ranks in the upper echelon of raw exit velocities and is tops in the majors in maximum exit velocity, however, what Steamer does not take into account is launch angles and barrels and this is surprisingly where Vladdy Jr. falters.

According to Sarris, Guerrero hits the ball hard, but doesn’t hit it as hard in the air, and doesn’t hit barrels as much as his hard-hitting compatriots. Last season, Vladdy had a 5.6 Barrels/PA% along with -0.60 attack angle. Compare the barrels stat with the likes of leaders Nelson Cruz 12.5 and Gary Sanchez who comes in at 11.7.

Here is a breakdown of the chart from the article:

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

Barrels/PA%

Nelson Cruz 12.5
Gary Sanchez 11.7
Aaron Judge 10.7
Yordan Alvarez 10.3
Christian Yelich 10.2
Pete Alonso 9.5
Jose Abreu 9.1
Kyle Schwarber 9.0
Aristides Aquino 8.9

When comparing Vladdy’s attack angle, consider Rangers slugger Joey Gallo sports a 16.04 attack angle, granted they are very different hitters but for comparison sakes, it shows a drastic difference.

Guerrero had a 33.1% flyball percentage compared to a 49.6 groundball percentage in 2019. Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was actually lower than Vladdy with a 32.4% while teammate Cavan Biggio logged a 47.0% flyball percentage in 2019.

Sarris concluded his projection that Guerrero has age and exit velocity riding in his favour which should bode well for improvement as long as he lifts the ball better in 2020.

Next. Blue Jays have a wealth of catching prospects. dark

If you have a subscription to The Athletic, give the article a read, you won’t regret it.

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