Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Season Preview: 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The next installment in our Toronto Blue Jays 2023 season preview series is going to revolve around superstar first baseman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Addison Barger, Anthony Bass, Chris Bassitt, Brandon Belt, José Berríos, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Matt Chapman, Adam Cimber, Hagen Danner, Santiago Espinal, Matt Gage, Yimi García, Kevin Gausman
Before we jump into things, here is a quick refresher on which projection systems we're going to be using.
STEAMER: 653 PA, 168 H, 39 HR, 111 RBI, .292/.369/.554, 5.2 WAR, 161 wRC+
ZiPS: 654 PA, 165 H, 34 HR, 106 RBI, .284/.359/.514, 3.5 WAR
THE BAT: 660 PA, 169 H, 33 HR, 99 RBI, .291/.369/.523, 4.8 WAR, 153 wRC+
ATC: 655 PA, 168 H, 35 HR, 102 RBI, .289/.363/.531, 4.8 WAR, 153 wRC+
2022 stats: 706 PA, 175 H, 32 HR, 97 RBI, .274/.339/.480, 2.8 fWAR, 132 wRC+
There's a lot to unpack here with the projections, which aren't always perfect but in this case are certainly encouraging.
After Guerrero had one of the best offensive seasons in Blue Jays history in 2021, he had a slight decline at the plate last year. It's so difficult to hate on that, though, because he still hit 32 home runs, drove in 97 and posted an OPS+ of 132, signaling that he was 32 percent above league-average with the bat.
All of the major projection systems have Guerrero improving across the board at the plate. STEAMER's 161 wRC+ projection is especially interesting as this system believes he will be 61 percent above league-average while tying his 2021 RBI total with 111.
Then there's his defense, which improved ever-so-slightly last year from 2021. While he does not jump off the page as one of the premier defensive first basemen in the league, Vladdy worked on his agility heading into 2022 and ultimately won his the first Gold Glove Award of his young career.
But let's be real. When you think of Vladdy, his bat is what comes to mind first.
Per Statcast, Guerrero was one of the very best hitters in the game last season, finishing near the top of most MLB Percentile Rankings on the site.
AVG EXIT VELOCITY
MAX EXIT VELOCITY
HARD HIT %
Need anymore convincing?
In modern day Major League Baseball, first base is the position where big sluggers play, and Guerrero fits that bill in the best way.
He recently spoke with reporters at the 2023 Winter Tour and expressed how excited he was about the team Ross Atkins and Co. have assembled alongside him and Vladdy looked to be in excellent shape for the upcoming season. Any additional agility he is able to add to his toolset would further his value tenfold.
It is so surprising that he has already experienced so much success at the big league level all while still only being 23-years-old. Guerrero has emerged as one of the most fearsome hitters in the league and is likely the top extension candidate on this current Blue Jays roster. Here's to hoping that the Montreal product stays in Toronto for the rest of his career.