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Blue Jays: How Vlad Guerrero Jr. at third lengthens the lineup

Mar 6, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) fields the ground ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm (28) in the 1st inning of the spring training game at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 6, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) fields the ground ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm (28) in the 1st inning of the spring training game at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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While I’m not a fan of the idea of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. becoming a full-time third baseman again, there is definitely value to having him play there on occasion.

The biggest argument in favour of keeping the hot corner on Vlad Jr’s resume is the flexibility it could provide for Charlie Montoyo and the Blue Jays roster. It would help the Jays cover injuries around the diamond, aid in putting out the best platoon match-ups, and improve the lineup on days where other starters need a game off, or even a half-day off their feet at the DH spot.

I’m not one who likes to bring video games into my writing as a way to reinforce my argument, but the last month or two playing MLB the Show has made me think about it a lot (and yes, I simulated the 2020 season, and I’m using the Blue Jays’ current roster). On days when someone like Cavan Biggio needs a day off, rather than starting Joe Panik, I just slide Vlad Jr. to third. For the sake of a visual (remember, on a Biggio day off), here’s what that could look like:

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1- George Springer (CF)
2- Bo Bichette (SS)
3- Marcus Semien (2B)
4- Teoscar Hernandez (DH)
5- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B)
6- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
7- Rowdy Tellez (1B)
8- Randal Grichuk (RF)
9- Danny Jansen (C)

Starting Vlad Jr. at third would allow Montoyo to get all three of Hernandez, Tellez, and Grichuk in the lineup on a day where Biggio sits. Granted, it’s not an ideal defensive configuration with Vlad Jr. and Tellez at the corners, but it would work just fine from time to time, and you could always bring in a late-game defensive replacement. On the other hand, the outfield glove work would be better with Grichuk in for Hernandez.

We know it works for a Biggio game off, but what if it’s Semien who needs a rest?

1- Cavan Biggio (2B)
2- Bo Bichette (SS)
3- George Springer (CF)
4- Teoscar Hernandez (DH)
5- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B)
6- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
7- Rowdy Tellez (1B)
8- Randal Grichuk (RF)
9- Danny Jansen (C)

That’s not a problem, as Biggio can slide to his most familiar spot at second for the night, and the batting order is still deep and dangerous. What about when it’s Bichette’s turn to rest?

1- Cavan Biggio (2B)
2- George Springer (CF)
3- Marcus Semien (SS)
4- Teoscar Hernandez (DH)
5- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B)
6- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (LF)
7- Rowdy Tellez (1B)
8- Randal Grichuk (RF)
9- Danny Jansen (C)

Vlad Jr. being able to slide to third base obviously helps the Blue Jays keep their best lineup on the field when infielders need a night off. Could it have the same effect while resting an outfielder?

1- Cavan Biggio (LF)
2- George Springer (CF)
3- Bo Bichette (SS)
4- Teoscar Hernandez (DH)
5- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B)
6- Marcus Semien (2B)
7- Rowdy Tellez (1B)
8- Randal Grichuk (RF)
9- Danny Jansen (C)

In this case Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is out, but the Blue Jays still sport a lineup that’s at least eight dangerous hitters deep here too, with all due respect to Jansen. You could also start Hernandez in the outfield and then use a look like this to give a half-day off to someone like Springer as well. Biggio is the even bigger factor in terms of flexibility, but the Blue Jays will be able to use it a lot more if Vlad Jr. can handle the hot corner once or twice a week.

Next. Pros and cons of not signing Jake Odorizzi. dark

To be fair, I haven’t been a big fan of the idea of Vlad Jr. returning to third base. However, I’m more than willing to acknowledge the benefits of being able to start him there from time to time, and here’s hoping it becomes a real option for Montoyo in 2021.

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