If you’re a follower of minor league baseball, or just baseball in general for that matter, you’ve probably noticed the long debate of whether the Blue Jays should call up uber-prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or not. The anticipation for the 19-year-old slugger to make his major league debut has basically grown each night, with what seems like constant videos of home runs and box scores with three-hit and four-hit outings.
The rise of Guerrero as a prospect has been quite the unbelievable development. A big time international signing with a recognizable name, he did not disappoint in his stateside debut, posting a 122 wRC+ in the Appalachian League at the age of 17, to go along with an impressive 35:33 K:BB ratio.
The Blue Jays quickly became aggressive with Guerrero’s developmental path, fast-tracking him through the levels of Low-A and High-A at age 18. Of the 177 players who received 200 plate appearances in the Low-A Midwest League last year, he was second youngest. Of the 135 players to receive the same plate appearance threshold in the High-A Florida State League last year, Guerrero was the youngest. The next youngest player was 20 months older. All of this and he managed to put up a gaudy .323/.425/.485 line across the two levels.
If that didn’t impress you enough, what Guerrero is currently doing in Double-A is even more insane. First of all (I’m going to go back to the age thing), consider it rare for a teenager to even sniff the level of Double-A. Setting 200 plate appearances as the minimum again, I took every hitter from Double-A since the year 2006. I came up with 16 teenagers out of the 4,150 qualified hitters, a mere 0.39%. As you know, Guerrero is among that 0.39% that also consists of players like Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Manny Machado, Elvis Andrus, and Justin Upton.
What I wanted to do was compare Guerrero’s start to the other 15 teenagers that have seen extended time in Double-A. My findings were interesting. First of all, Guerrero has been better than all of the them. By a lot. His current wOBA of .492 is by far the highest, with 2011 Mike Trout coming in at a far second place of .421.
He also beats out Jurickson Profar for the lowest K/BB ratio.
Now lets expand the sample size. Instead of comparing Guerrero to just teenagers, I went back to that sample size of 4,150 hitters. And as it currently stands, Guerrero has the second highest wOBA of the group. The top ten (shown below), have an average age of 22.2.
Top AA hitters In wOBA since 2006, min. 200 PA
|Kris Bryant||Cubs (AA)||2014||0.504||22|
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||Blue Jays (AA)||2018||0.492||19|
|Giancarlo Stanton||Marlins (AA)||2010||0.492||20|
|Kevin Kouzmanoff||Indians (AA)||2006||0.481||24|
|Peter Alonso||Mets (AA)||2018||0.478||23|
|Max Ramirez||Rangers (AA)||2008||0.476||23|
|Matt Rizzotti||Phillies (AA)||2010||0.474||24|
|Matt Wieters||Orioles (AA)||2008||0.47||22|
|Mike Moustakas||Royals (AA)||2010||0.469||21|
|Kila Ka'aihue||Royals (AA)||2008||0.467||24|
Now that we’ve gone through the comparison of Guerrero’s dominant season to the rest of AA in recent history, I can now go back to question of whether he should be on a major league roster or not. To help answer that, I will use Steamer Projections as a good measuring stick. The rest of season projection for Guerrero at the major league level is a 119 wRC+. The only Toronto Blue Jay that has a higher projection is the recently DL’d Josh Donaldson at 130. His current main competition for playing time, the current 62 wRC+ Kendrys Morales, is projected to have a 99 wRC+ for the rest of the season.
Top Steamer Projections for AA hitters
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||Blue Jays (AA)||19||207||119|
|Esteban Quiroz||Red Sox (AA)||26||63||108|
|Eloy Jimenez||White Sox (AA)||21||161||108|
|Peter Alonso||Mets (AA)||23||209||105|
|LaMonte Wade||Twins (AA)||24||155||101|
|Yadiel Hernandez||Nationals (AA)||30||129||100|
|Jordan George||Pirates (AA)||25||112||93|
|Myles Straw||Astros (AA)||23||215||92|
|Andrew Calica||Indians (AA)||24||151||89|
|Bo Bichette||Blue Jays (AA)||20||218||89|
|Garrett Hampson||Rockies (AA)||23||172||88|
|Yordan Alvarez||Astros (AA)||21||123||87|
I think this helps answer the question on whether he’s ready or not. With all of this, I honestly believe he’s ready for the major league level. I also acknowledge the other factors that play into a promotion. Service time (haha), corresponding lineup and roster moves, and defense. But you don’t have to look too far for an example of a team pushing a player up the ranks for the better of the major league team, with 19-year-old Juan Soto currently manning left field for the Nationals after starting the year in Low-A. And it’s early, but the results on that have looked pretty good.
With the Blue Jays currently sitting at 25-32 and coming off a 9-19 month of May in which they posted a 25th ranked .300 wOBA, their lineup needs a spark. Why not Guerrero?