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Sunday, November 08, 2020

Blue Jays’ Guerrero Jr. says he’s preparing to take back third base


The 2021 MLB season feels forever away, but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has already made his mission for the year crystal clear: He’s taking back third base.

During an interview conducted in Spanish, the Toronto Blue Jays slugger opened up about why team brass moved him from third base to first and his desire to return to his original position.

“When they moved me to first base they did it because they didn’t want me to struggle that much,” Guerrero told Yancen Pujols of El Caribe (translation confirmed by Sportsnet). “You know in 2018 I had an injury in one of my knees and they’re scared of that. And that’s the reason they moved me to first base.”

Guerrero was slated to start the shortened 2020 MLB season at third, where he suited up as a rookie in 2019, but was moved over to first two weeks prior to Opening Day — a move that allowed the Blue Jays to focus on the young hitter’s offence.

“Right after the season ended I told them I played first base this year but next year the third base is mine,” he said. “I’m already improving my skills as a third baseman. I still have my first baseman’s mitts out there in case one day I have to play first base or if in a game something happens and I have to be moved to first base but I’m going back to my position, which is third base.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 08, 2020 at 10:30 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: vladimir guerrero jr.

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   1. puck Posted: November 08, 2020 at 11:48 AM (#5987834)
He needs to get in better shape. I'm sure they'd be happy and took some steps forward with the bat.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 08, 2020 at 01:44 PM (#5987842)
He need to hit better. His glove is not gonna carry a 110-115 wRC+ anywhere.

If being in shape helps him hit, he should do that. If eating double cheeseburgers helps him hit, he should take the John Kruk path.
   3. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: November 08, 2020 at 04:22 PM (#5987851)
He’s taking back third base.


I'm sure if you spread some cheese and bacon on top of it and shove it between 2 buns, he'd be more than happy to have it.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: November 09, 2020 at 01:04 AM (#5987883)
C'mon, he was on first 12 times when a single was hit and took third 6 times.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 09, 2020 at 10:07 AM (#5987915)
C'mon, he was on first 12 times when a single was hit and took third 6 times.

His problem is that he wasn't on first nearly enough.
   6. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 09, 2020 at 11:27 AM (#5987935)

He's 21 and has a little more than a full season of games under his belt. It would be great if he had arrived in the majors as fully-formed a hitter as Mike Trout, but many guys don't. I agree he needs to hit more but I think some patience is warranted.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: November 09, 2020 at 04:29 PM (#5987985)
He doesn't _need_ to hit more. If he played average 1B defense then a 110 OPS+ keeps you in the lineup pretty much everyday. It won't get you the star contract unless you're Eric Hosmer but Mitch Moreland has $34 M in career earnings, Smoak $29. It would be even better if he could wrestle 3B to a draw. One problem for Vlad Jr is that Rfield thought his defense at 1B stunk too. Unless we get the DH in the NL, 110 OPS+ does not land you a full-time DH job or at least not for very long.

That's not a projection. He is only turning 22, his career numbers are reasonably close to Eloy Jimenez's age 22 season (less power, better OBP). Just noting that, with relatively rare exception, the "downside" of a 110 OPS+ bat is 500-650 PA a year for whichever team needs a bat that year. For crying out loud, even Delmon Young made it to 4400 PA and $22 M.
   8. catomi01 Posted: November 09, 2020 at 06:26 PM (#5987994)
A third of his career PA also came in 2020, which included an abbreviated/spilt spring training, weird corona-virus restrictions, playing in a Triple A stadium with no fans for half his games, learning a new position, and generally dealing with an unprecedented season in MLB history...I'm inclined to treat any an all stats from 2020 with a large grain of salt...those 243 plate appearances aren't meaningless, but I think I'm willing to give any young player who struggled a bit this season a pass for now. Gleyber Torres is another good example in my mind - struggled defensively and the bat was a clear downgrade from his first two seasons, but no one really seems all that worried right now (with the usual NY talk radio nuts ignored).

Not scientific at all, but a sign of expectations v. reality

Gleyber - .724 OPS v. .930 in BBref's 2020 Sim. .827 OPS projected by Marcel...below where you'd hope, but right in line with his 2018 season.

Vlad Jr. - .778 v. .860. .802 Marcel...same idea...with Vlad having the advantage of being a few years younger...neither advanced the way you hoped this year, but both are still young and with time to grow. 2020 was a lost year for a lot of minor leaguers, but the abbreviated schedule (especially the down time between spring trainings) probably hurt quite a few younger regulars too.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 09, 2020 at 06:46 PM (#5987998)
Gleyber Torres is another good example in my mind - struggled defensively and the bat was a clear downgrade from his first two seasons, but no one really seems all that worried right now

The differences being:

1) Torres has almost 1100 PA of really good hitting; Vlad Jr. doesn't
2) Torres is a MI, Vlad is struggling to play 1B

A -10 fielding SS with a 115 wRC+ is a really good player, a -10 1B with a 115 wRC+ is looking for a job every off-season.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: November 09, 2020 at 07:42 PM (#5988000)
I agree with Snapper but ... at age 20, Vlad was holding his own in the majors while Gleyber was still in the minors. At 21, Gleyber had a 122 OPS+ in 480 PA while Vlad had a 116 in 240 which seems within random variation. And the difference in track record is just 500 PA -- not nothing but not much. The insurmountable difference for Vlad is position although (according to DRS), Gleyber doesn't shine anywhere he's played yet either.
   11. catomi01 Posted: November 09, 2020 at 10:25 PM (#5988018)
You're not wrong Snapper...my main point was really that Vlad is 21 years old, hit basically the same the last two years in the big leagues, and that it was a very weird season...so we shouldn't be reading too much into him not hitting like a superstar (or even a star) yet. He's got basically a full season + a month or so of big league Plate appearances with 1.5 WAR (bbref) and a 109 OPS+...if that was his rookie season, I think the Blue Jays would be very happy, and looking forward to more.

No back to the posted article...Vlad is listed at 250 lbs and doesn't look like anyone's idea of a 3B...concentrate on the bat and see if you can develop some basic competence at first...a lot of big sluggers came up on the hot corner and didn't last...not saying he's going to be Jim Thome or Miguel Cabrera, but they're the model to follow and hope for. The sooner they figure out who and what he is, the better off for everyone involved.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 09, 2020 at 10:41 PM (#5988021)
I agree with Snapper but ... at age 20, Vlad was holding his own in the majors while Gleyber was still in the minors. At 21, Gleyber had a 122 OPS+ in 480 PA while Vlad had a 116 in 240 which seems within random variation. And the difference in track record is just 500 PA -- not nothing but not much.

True, but has anyone done any recent work on aging curves? It seems like most of the really good players are arriving in the majors fully formed at 21-23 these days. Or they have some random breakout at age 27. I can think too many recent stars that gradually developed from OK at 21 to star at 26.
   13. Rally Posted: November 10, 2020 at 08:36 AM (#5988039)
I can think too many recent stars that gradually developed from OK at 21 to star at 26.


Tim Anderson wasn't in the bigs at 21, below average for 3 years before a breakout at 26

Xander Bogaerts came up at 20, about average his first 4 years then a star from 25-27

Jose Ramirez up at 20, breakout season at 24

Anthony Rendon didn't make it up till 23, was good at 24 and has improved a bit since then

Manny Machado was a league average hitter at 20. You could say he was fully formed at 22, but his OPS+ that year was 132. He topped it in 2018 (145) and in the 60 game season (158). He's had his ups and downs, you'll almost never find a player who exactly follows the expected aging pattern, but I think Machado has shown improvement as a hitter from when he entered the league.

Christian Yelich was up at 21, a bit above average his first 3 years. Some more improvement at 24-25, then an MVP superstar at 26-27. Then apparently forgot how to hit during the lockdown.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 10, 2020 at 09:56 AM (#5988055)
Tim Anderson wasn't in the bigs at 21, below average for 3 years before a breakout at 26

Not really on point, but man, I am so not buying Tim Anderson. If he was a stock I'd short the hell out of him. His "breakout" is ~3-4% BB-rate, 21-22% K-rate, ~185 ISO, and a .395!!! BABIP.
   15. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 10, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5988058)
Bryce Harper put up a 121 OPS+ from ages 19-21, then won the MVP at 22 (and has had a bit of a mixed record since then).

Freddie Freeman 114 OPS+ at ages 21-22, 146 since then.

Jose Altuve a bit of a different case, but 93 OPS+ through age 23, 136 since then.

Going back a few years, Jose Reyes had his breakout at age 23 after two pretty unimpressive years with the bat. Magglio Ordonez started out with a 94 OPS+ at age 24 and improved every year until age 28 (154 OPS+).

None of these were gradual improvements, but it took a few years for things to click for the players.
   16. Rally Posted: November 10, 2020 at 10:49 AM (#5988065)
Of the guys who are currently stars in the 26-29 age range, how many were already great at age 21? Trout for one, but I don't things have changed that much in that most of these players were either not great yet at 21, or still in the minors or college.
   17. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 10, 2020 at 10:59 AM (#5988067)

A more relevant comparison, perhaps - Prince Fielder put up a 109 OPS+ in 196 games from ages 20-21, then averaged a 151 OPS+ over the next 6 years. That's pretty much what you're hoping for from Guerrero. Of course, Fielder never became much of a fielder; you'd hope Vlad can do a bit better there.
   18. Rally Posted: November 10, 2020 at 12:52 PM (#5988105)
I did a search for prime age superstar hitters. Criteria: 10+ WAR from 2018-20, 130 or better OPS+, year of birth 1990-1994. 10 players, and what they were doing at 21:

Mike Trout - best player in baseball
Christian Yelich - half season in minors, half in MLB with a 112 OPS+
Manny Machado - 110 OPS+, injured and played half the season
Jose Ramirez - looked like a utility infielder, 81 OPS+
Alex Bregman - first half in college, drafted #2 overall, second half in A-ball
Mookie Betts - 126 OPS+ towards end of season with Red Sox. 2.3 WAR in 1/3 of a season, and that was not a fluke.
Matt Chapman - .692 OPS in minors after being drafted
Xander Bogearts - 84 OPS+ as starting MLB SS
Anthony Rendon - Still in college
Aaron Judge - Still in college

9 out of 10 improved, Trout didn't because he had no room to. Mookie improved, but even if he stayed at his 2014 level he was already a superstar. The others all had a bit or work to do.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: November 10, 2020 at 05:07 PM (#5988159)
Mookie improved

Not much as a hitter. Since that rookie year: 301/374/526, 135 OPS+, does work out to about 8 extra Rbat/650 which is solid. The difference is all in the ISO. That sort of improvement would push Vlad up to about 21 Rbat per year and, if he can play an average 1B, average runner/DP then about a 3 WAR player. Nice but unspectacular.

Eloy debuted at 22 but jumped from 116 to 140. Too soon to know FTj's trajectory but at a 155 OPS+ in 629 PA through 21, he doesn't have much room to improve. Lindor debuted at 21 and hasn't really improved in offensive performance but has shifted to much more power (as have they all).** Of course Lindor and FTj not exactly good comps for Vlad. Kris Bryant has been going the wrong direction, Schwarber too (not a bad Vlad comp). Bellinger has been up and down. There's not much that separates Vlad from Hosmer (in the majors at 21) or Wil Myers (not till a partial 22 but with a 131 OPS+).

He seems to be in that group where either he takes off in the next 1-2 years (very possible) or he gets stuck here -- kinda like every other 22-year-old player. :-)

Anyway, I'm pretty sure we did have an article posted here over the last couple of years suggesting that batter aging curves had flattened over the last 1-2 decades. I'd want to really dig into the changes in the sample composition before making any claims on that but the world might have changed.

** Is it just me ... in 2017, Lindor had 44 doubles and 33 HRs and a 273 BA and that all somehow added up to just a 116 OPS+. He did a bit better in 2019 and it was just a 118 OPS+. 40 doubles and 30 HRs used to be a BIG season didn't it?
   20. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 10, 2020 at 05:40 PM (#5988163)

** Is it just me ... in 2017, Lindor had 44 doubles and 33 HRs and a 273 BA and that all somehow added up to just a 116 OPS+. He did a bit better in 2019 and it was just a 118 OPS+. 40 doubles and 30 HRs used to be a BIG season didn't it?

It still is a big season. Since 1990, there were 135 seasons with 30+ HR and 40+ 2B. 124 of them had an OPS+ above 118. Lindor has the two lowest such seasons since 2015.

But there are explanations. In 2017 he led MLB in PA, so it's not quite as impressive as it sounds. His OBP was only ~.335 both times, and he was playing a hitter's park so...yeah.
   21. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: November 10, 2020 at 06:52 PM (#5988176)
He’s taking back third base.

I'm sure if you spread some cheese and bacon on top of it and shove it between 2 buns, he'd be more than happy to have it.


Harsh, but fair.

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