Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Get Excited For a Future Star
It appeared by most fan’s standards Vladimir Guerrero Jr had a bad season and may not be a valuable asset. I’m here to tell those fans to take a moment and reflect on what Guerrero Jr brings to the club.
On July 2, 2015, the Blue Jays signed 16-year old international free agent Vladimir Guerrero Jr to a $3.9 million contract. Guerrero Jr excelled through the minor leagues and over parts of four seasons he played in 289 minor league games slugging 44 home runs, 209 RBI while posting a .331 batting average.
Everyone was begging the Blue Jays to call him up far before the team finally gave him the promotion and nobody forgets what he did on the last pitch during the 2018 Spring Training.
Many fans thought he was ready for the major leagues that season (2018) even though he had just had his 19th birthday just 11 days prior to that home run. Guerrero Jr. would split that season between four levels, hit 20 home runs with 78 RBI and a .381 average. It was easy to see that Blue Jays fans were itching at the opportunity to see the young phenom come to the majors.
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2019 would start with Guerrero Jr. not breaking camp with the big club and many speculated it was due to management playing around with his days of service to keep an extra year of control. After 13 games Guerrero Jr. would finally get the call to the major leagues and many were wanting a superstar to appear immediately.
On April 26, 2019, Guerrero Jr would play in his first game and go 1-4 with a double. It was nice, but not dominant. By most, and by most I’d say almost everyone expected Guerrero Jr. to continue his dominance from the minor league circuit right through to the majors. Through his first 11 games he was batting just .146 and had yet to hit one over the fence. After two more games he went 3 for 7 and then came his first appearance in San Francisco. Not only did he record three hits, not just his first home run, but his first ever multi-home run game. He lifted his batting average in that one game by 44 points and was hitting .235. Fans immediately thought “alright here is the kid, let’s go!”
The youngster finished the year playing in 123 games, hitting 26 doubles with a .272 average which included 15 home runs, all while doing it at just 20 years of age. However, the questions arose about where the dominance was, as well as him not hitting a home run over his last 26 games of the season. What should have been mentioned was other players his age were just getting a taste of baseball at either Rookie Ball or Single A baseball, and he was contributing as an everyday player at the highest level. Guerrero Jr. would finish sixth in AL Rookie of the Year voting all the while being at least two years younger than anyone that was ahead of him in voting.
Comments and questions quickly came that maybe his fitness level needs to be better. I’m not here to say his fitness level is at a peak and it likely could use some improvements, but it shows how quickly young Vlad was being picked apart. Either way, fitness seemed to be something he took on over the winter and this picture was posted.
During this past season, Guerrero Jr. was constantly hitting with high exit velocity off his bat, however, everything seemed to be on the ground. He never seemed to get on a steady role at the plate and again comments about his fitness came into question as he came into the summer camp drastically bigger than what he was in Spring Training. An issue he even stated was something he needed to be addressed this upcoming offseason.
The season finished with Guerrero Jr posting a .262 batting average with 24 extra-base hits over 60 games. There is no doubt that this isn’t anything to get overly excited about, but there a couple factors fans can take from the year.
The first, Guerrero Jr has owned his issue with fitness and has said this is something he will address this offseason. From the outside looking in, he appears to be a player that is determined. The second, the sophomore played this season while learning a completely new position. Guerrero Jr. is an aggressive player as you see on the base paths, and most of his mistakes on the field were caused by him being overly aggressive. If you ask most coaches in any league, you’d rather have a player that is overly aggressive and have to pull in, rather than a player who isn’t aggressive and try to get it into them.
Finally, Guerrero Jr is now just 21 years old and again most players his age aren’t getting to the majors at this age. Through his first two years as a 20-21 year old player, Guerrero Jr. has averaged 35 doubles, 21 home runs and 90 RBI with a .269 average over 162 game season. Put your views on that and imagine what kind of player can come from that.
I think next season Guerrero Jr. will take a giant leap forward and join a long list of power hitters that have played in the Blue Jays organization. What are your feelings on Guerrero Jr’s future?