Toronto Blue Jays 2020 Report Card: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
By Amy Sarkany
Jays Journal contributors will be authoring Toronto Blue Jays report cards based on how each player performed in 2020. In this edition, we take a look at Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s second year in the big leagues had expectations just as high as his first year. From his Hall of Fame father to being one of the biggest Blue Jays prospects, many fans were hoping this was the year Vladdy would be the player fans were promised.
Guerrero Jr. came to 2020 spring training looking solid at third, and everyone was excited for his second year. Then the pandemic hit, and when the players reported to summer camp many months later, the Jays decided to make Vladdy take the permanent move to first base.
Although first base could be considered the easier defensive infield position compared to third base, it is still a completely new area for someone to learn. Some error was expected from Vladdy with such a short amount of time to prepare. This season Guerrero Jr. was alternated between first base and the designated hitter spot, along with teammate Rowdy Tellez.
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Interestingly, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was the only Blue Jays player in the 2020 season to make an appearance in all 60 regular season games and didn’t suffer any injuries unlike a lot of the team.
Guerrero Jr. ended the season with a .262 BA, .329 OBP, .791 OPS and 33 RBI. He also produced nine home runs, 13 doubles, two triples and stole one base. Vlad had his ups and downs offensively this year, with some games exploding at the plate to everyone’s pleasure and some with many groundouts and not much action.
Towards the end of the regular season, he seemed to really get hot, hitting .444 BA, .464 OBP with eight RBI in his last seven games. Since it was such a short season, it took a while for a lot of the players to start hitting well. With a regular 160 game season, hopefully next year we can see Vladdy get to more of this elite hitting level in a shorter amount of time that doesn’t take up a lot of the season.
Defensively, he played more games at first base compared to designated hitter, with 34 starts at 1B, to 23 starts at DH. Vladdy committed three defensive errors on the season, with many not happy with some of these “rookie” mistakes. The Jays decided to keep him in at first base throughout the season so he could keep getting the practice he needed, even though some fans had the opinion he should be pulled from the position because of the mistakes.
One of the issues at 1B for Vladdy seemed to be him forgetting to stay on the bag to cover first base, instead chasing after balls that may have been better suited for the second baseman, leaving the bag open with the pitcher not able to get there in time. This allowed some base hits that may have been preventable.
He played both postseason games at first base against Tampa Bay in the Wild Card series, with one hit in eight plate appearances. Considering how both those games ended, it was good Vladdy at least got his first major league postseason hit. Defensively he was solid in the two games, committing no errors with four putouts in four total chances.
Overall, this was a successful year and a great learning experience for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Much like the rest of the young core, I’m sure he will use this offseason to his advantage to practice in the areas needed, and come back to 2021 spring training looking sharp for his third year in the Major Leagues.