Multiple Blue Jays worthy of "best shape of my life" talk during spring training

Could we see bounceback years from Alek Manoah and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. after their recent weight losses?

Alek Manoah and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in a home game vs. Baltimore Orioles
Alek Manoah and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in a home game vs. Baltimore Orioles / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

Alek Manoah and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. have captured Blue Jays fans' attention over the past couple of weeks displaying their new weight losses in a series of workout-related posts online. These posts have been encouraging, as both players are coming off of disappointing seasons. With spring training games set to start in about a week, fans are most likely wondering what they can expect from Guerrero and Manoah as the Blue Jays enter the 2024 campaign.

Alek Manoah

Manoah was the pitcher to watch for 2023. With an excellent mid-season debut in 2021 and a top-3 AL Cy Young finish in 2022, fans were eager to see what the 26-year-old righty had in store for the future. Excitement turned into disappointment, however, when Manoah showed immediate signs of struggle, nearly doubling both his BB/9 and HR rates. Manoah would eventually end up being demoted to Triple-A in mid-August and finished the season with a staggering 5.87 ERA in only 87.1 IP. While these numbers certainly aren't encouraging, fans would be reasonable to expect an improvement from Manoah in 2024.

Manoah was reported to have lost roughly 30 pounds this offseason, as highlighted by Scott Mitchell from TSN. A thirty-pound weight loss not only signals a more athletic season from Manoah but also one that comes with a stronger work ethic. With Manoah's 2023 season defined by his egregious lack of command, he needed a stronger pitching regimen if he had any hope for improving in the future. With a projected ERA of 4.47 and 1.2 fWAR (via ZiPS), Manoah may not return to Cy Young form, but could be a solid No. 5 in an already strong Blue Jays rotation.

He's looking good.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Guerrero, too, had strong hopes heading into last year. He was looking to improve on his previous performance, having significantly declined from his incredible showing the year before. While many thought he would eclipse his 32 homers and 133 wRC+, Guerrero once again showed a steep decline. While he was serviceable, he wasn't the player Jays fans hoped he would be. He slashed .264/.345/.444, good for a wRC+ of 118; 15 points lower than the year before (and almost 50 points lower than 2021). Additionally, Guerrero was only able to muster 26 big flies, a drop-off from 32 in 2022 and 48 the year prior. But, like his teammate, Jays fans still have reason to be hopeful for a strong 2024 from the former top-prospect.

Like Manoah, Guerrero's new weight loss signals a new season of athleticism. But while Manoah had a poor 2023 from almost every angle, Guerrero's season had some interesting takeaways. Despite a decrease in HRs and wRC+, he still put up elite peripheral statistics. He was in the 89th percentile for Hard-Hit rate (49.2%), 91st percentile for average exit-velocity (92.1 MPH) and 94th percentile for xwOBA (.375). With Steamer projecting 36 HRs and a 144 wRC+ in 2024, Jays fans could very well see another MVP-calibre season from the young talent.