Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. happy at first, and it’s for the best
According to Sportnet’s Arash Mandani on last night’s broadcast, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. told the Blue Jays that he’s happy at first base and no longer wants to go back to third.
In some ways this feels like old news, as Guerrero Jr. has played first base since the beginning of last season. It never really felt like that was going to change either, especially as the 22 year old has made steady improvements throughout the 2021 campaign. That said, there were several reports that part of his motivation last winter was a hope of returning to third base, the position he was playing when he debuted in the big leagues in 2019. Apparently young Vladdy is no longer thinking about that these days and is really embracing his position at first.
It’s a positive development in a number of ways, and thankfully it’s a topic that we can put to rest for good. Rather than wondering whether it would be best for the player and the team to give a move back to third another try, the Blue Jays can focus on making sure they shore up that position over the winter by making a roster addition, or perhaps identifying an internal candidate. Either way, we know that first base is taken care of for the foreseeable future.
While it was great that Vlad Jr. found all the motivation he needed as he worked out last winter, it’s probably for the best that he’s put third base behind him, even at a young age. He’s developed into a plus defender at the cold corner, and as I said before, I don’t think the Jays were going to be very inclined to move him away after so much positive development. Instead of setting himself up for disappointment, or worse, a rift with the coaching staff and/or front office, it’s definitely better that everyone is on the same page.
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Guerrero Jr. can definitely still make an impact on the game with his glove, and he’s proven that a lot this year. Whether it’s picking low throws out the dirt, or using his strong throwing arm to start a double play, he’s improving as a first baseman all the time, and he’s becoming an asset for the Blue Jays there. His improved fitness has played a big part in that, but so has gaining some experience at what is still a relatively new spot for him to play.
After showing that he can produce at an MVP-level as a hitter, it doesn’t hurt to permanently commit to a move away from third, a position that likely impacted his work in the batter’s box. He’s always had the tools to succeed there, as he does have a good arm, and pretty soft hands when dealing with ground balls, but it would take some serious focus to make the necessary improvements to shift back there on a full-time basis.
This way, Guerrero Jr. can continue to work at improving at a position that he’s already found success with, and more importantly, focus on becoming the best hitter he can be. We’ve already witnessed the kind of damage he’s capable of, and still just 22 years old, the best is yet to come for Vlad Jr. and the Blue Jays.