Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
MLBToronto Blue Jays

Will Vladimir Guerrero Jr. make a second year leap?

Arguably the most anticipated prospect in Blue Jays history made his debut in 2019. Although it didn’t go exactly to plan, there was plenty to like from the young slugger in his rookie campaign.

Vladdy finished 2019 with 15 home runs and drove in 69 runs. He slashed .272/.339/.772 and struck out 91 times compared to 46 walks. The defensive side of his game showed flashes but needs improvement.

Vlad isn’t on your team for his defence, he’s on your team because of his offensive production. Guerrero Jr. has come into camp looking slimmer and more agile which may help improve his range at the hot corner. Vlad is one of four position players (non-catchers) to show up early for camp in preparation for spring training. The other three are, Teoscar Hernandez, Rowdy Tellez and Billy McKinney.

In 2019, a lot of fans wanted to see Guerrero Jr. as a part of the opening day roster but the Jays kept him down until the end of April to keep a year of team control. After being called up, Vlad struggled out of the gate. But as the season went on he started to get more comfortable at the plate.

Specifically in August he tore the cover off of the ball and showed off the 80-grade hitting tool scouts gave him as he made his way through the ranks of the minor leagues. In August, Vlad slashed .341/.406/.977 over 25 games.

A full camp and starting the year in Toronto should help Guerrero Jr. avoid a slow start to the season. Growth is expected for Vlad in 2020, but how much will he improve?

In 2020 Guerrero Jr. will show everyone in the MLB why his arrival to Toronto was anticipated as much as it was. A good comparison for Vlad’s expected offensive growth is the growth that was seen in future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera’s sophomore season in 2004.

Guerrero Jr. and Cabrera had comparable rookie seasons 15 years apart.

Guerrero Jr.: 15 HR 69 RBI .272/.339/.772

Cabrera: 12 HR 62 RBI .268/.325/.793

Cabrera, in his sophomore campaign improved his stat line to 33 home runs, 112 runs batted in, and hit .294/.366/.879. Cabrera was also named to his first All-Star game in 2004, his age 21 season.

Projection

Guerrero Jr., entering his age 21 season, will look to replicate what Cabrera did and live up to the hype surrounding his name. A 30 home run season isn’t out of reach for Vlad but I expect him to finish 2020 with around 25.

If Vlad finishes the 2020 season with a slash line similar to Cabrera’s in 2004, the season will be a success. His OPS would rise in part to the increase in home runs and a projected raise of 30/40 points to his OBP isn’t unrealistic.

I think Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will finish 2020 with 26 home runs, 92 runs batted in and will slash .292/.375/.874.

Disagree? Leave your prediction in the comments below.

Statistics via baseball-reference.com

Follow @ColeDonnachie on Twitter

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