Blue Jays FanGraphs Steamer Projections Analysis for 2022
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is coming off a 2021 season in which he finished second in American League MVP voting and won the Hank Aaron Award for the league’s best hitter, and FanGraphs projects him to do more of the same in 2022. Steamer Projections give him a .309/.394/.611 slash line with 46 homers and a WRC+ of 165, which is one point lower than in 2021, despite his projected OPS of 1.005 being three points higher. They also gave him a 6.1 WAR, down a bit from his 6.7 this past season. It should be noted that they also have him only playing in 150 games.
Overall, it’s hard to argue with these projections. They have him first for MLB in home runs and second for WRC+, behind only Juan Soto, so just like Blue Jays fans, FanGraphs recognizes Vladdy as one of baseball’s top hitters.
Last season, Bo Bichette put together a remarkable campaign, leading the AL in hits, making his first All-Star appearance, and finishing 12th in AL MVP voting. Once again, he’s expected to do more of the same, with a projected WRC+ of 125, up three points from last season, and a slash line of .291/.342/.503. One area where they do expect regression though is on the base paths, as they have him stealing only 17 bases and getting caught 7 times, compared to his 25 steals on just 26 attempts in 2021. They do, however, project significant defensive improvement, with his defensive performance above average (def) jumping from 0.2 to 5.3, which seems very possible considering how much he improved over the course of the season.
Similar to Vladdy, these projections for Bo seem pretty reasonable, but I don’t think it would be overreacting to expect him to out-perform these projections. Apart from an August slump last season, Bo was one of baseball’s elite bats, and given the fact that he’ll only be 24-years-old this season, there’s no reason not to expect him to get even better.
Santiago Espinal was the Blue Jays’ third baseman for most of 2021 and was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. He posted a 115 WRC+ and actually led all MLB third basemen with at least 240 plate appearances in batting average at .311. This was in a relatively small sample size of just 92 games, and the general consensus seems to be that he would work better in a utility role, as opposed to remaining as the starter at third. His projections seem to echo this sentiment as they give him a 91 WRC+ along with a .267/.325/.380 slash line. These projections are obviously formula based and considering Espinal isn’t known for hard hits and high launch angles, this isn’t particularly surprising.
While I think it’s definitely fair to expect some regression to the mean in 2022, the massive dip in production seems like it could be avoided if he’s able to play a utility role. Even then, Espinal showed some solid play last season and we shouldn’t write him off too quickly. Maybe he won’t be as good as he was in 2021, but his projected number may still be a bit low.