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Blue Jays: I’m convinced, Vlad Guerrero Jr. should hit third

Mar 22, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) doubles in the sixth inning during spring training at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) doubles in the sixth inning during spring training at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /
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It might have been a disappointing 2020 season for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but he’s shown the Blue Jays a new level of commitment this spring and the results have been encouraging.

In fact, I’m feeling so good about the way he’s looked that I think the Jays should account for it and possibly even shift their plans. I doubt that Charlie Montoyo has a batting order set in stone in his mind, but the more things get solidified the more I believe that Vlad Jr. needs to be in the heart of the mix. I’d even go as far as starting the year with him as the number three hitter.

It’s even easier to do that if George Springer is going to miss the first few games of the year, which looks likely, but I think Montoyo should look to have Vlad Jr. in the top three either way. In my earlier offseason predictions about the batting order, I thought we’d see Vladdy hitting somewhere around 6th to begin the year. Now? This is how I’d line things up once Springer is healthy:

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

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The more I think about it, the more this lineup is the one that makes the most sense to me, even if I’d really like to see Biggio in the top three as well. I’d also be happy with stacking Biggio at the top of this group, and then following with Springer, Bichette, and Vlad Jr. as an alternative.

However, there are a number of things I like about the example above. First of all, I think it puts the best three hitters in the top three, assuming Vlad Jr. can keep up the comfort level he’s had in the batter’s box this spring. Over 34 at-bats the 22-year-old has slashed a ridiculous .471/.558/.824 with 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 doubles, and a triple(!). He looks great and is moving well, and appears to be a lot more like the player that entered the big leagues with so much hype.

On top of his own imposing presence right now, stacking elite hitters ahead and behind him is going to improve the quality of the pitches he’s going to see. He’s bound to have Springer and Bichette on base plenty of the time, which will draw more fastballs to feast on, and pitchers aren’t going to work around him with Hernandez waiting on the on deck circle. It would be a fine example of setting an elite young hitter up for success.

After last season’s struggles, especially with conditioning, I can understand the argument that Guerrero Jr. should have to work his way up the order, especially with so many other dangerous hitters around him. While that does make some sense to me, I’d rather see the Canadian-born slugger rewarded for his offseason work, and encouraged to keep it up. Call it a carrot if you like, but it could be viewed as a nice consolation prize for not getting to move back to third base, which was one of his offseason goals.

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At the end of the day, the Blue Jays need to do what they ultimately believe is best for the ball club. I wouldn’t have said this a few months ago, but lining Vladimir Guerrero Jr. up as the number three hitter seems like what’s best for the team to me.

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