Vladdy has arrived. What’s he doing differently now and will it be sustained?

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is playing on another level right now.

A triple slash of .389/.507/.667 is Bonds-esque, his 232 wRC+ ranks fourth in all of baseball behind, Acuna Jr, Trout and Mercedes. His 1.2 WAR is tied for second and matches what Vlad did in 2019 and 2020 combined. What’s most impressive about this stretch isn’t necessarily the power and the big exit velocity, it’s his plate discipline. Vlad has 11 walks and 11 strikeouts. This is the Vlad Guerrero Jr. everyone saw in the minor leagues.
We have never seen Vlad hit this well for this length of time in the big leagues. Seriously, look at his stats by week on this FanGraphs leaderboard; three of the six best weeks of Vlad’s career have been this season.  So what is Vlad doing differently this time around? Is this just another hot streak and how does this streak compare to other successful stretches for Vlad?
First, we need to establish the best stretches of Vlad’s career. Using the leaderboard above, I went through and found the five best stretches of Vlad’s young career.
Year
Dates
Plate Appearances
wRC+
2019
May 11 – May 31
76
163
2019
July 19 – August 4
66
241
2019
August 10 – August 30
61
152
2020
August 16 – August 30
63
172
2021
April  1 – April 18
67
232
Vlad has had …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to Play in Dominican Winter League

It was reported Monday night that Vladimir Guerreo Jr. has been granted permission and will play Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic. 

Vladimir Guerrero will play with @EscogidoBBClub in the Dominican Winter League. https://t.co/qTAGBU4ao1
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) November 30, 2020

Vladdy will be joining the Escogido Baseball Club, a team already loaded with young talent. Vladdy will play alongside Julio Rodriguez, the Seattle Mariners prospect who ranks among the top 10 prospects in all of baseball and the undisputed top prospect in baseball in shortstop Wander Franco. The roster also includes Gregory Polonco of the Pirates. 
As far as Blue Jays fans go the other name to watch on this team is Otto Lopez. Lopez was just added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft. Lopez is a versatile player having played every position but catcher and first base. It looks like the Blue Jays want to get him more focused on playing a middle infield position. In 2019 Lopez played 693.1 innings at shortstop after playing less than 100 innings there the year prior. Reading some scouting reports he doesn’t sound like a great defender, which means he’s likely headed …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Guerrero and Shaw: The launch angle outliers

On the surface, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Travis Shaw have little in common. Two hitters at two completely different points in their careers, on opposite sides of the diamond (although Guerrero’s future is arguably at first base).
As dissimilar as they are, both Vladdy and Shaw struggled mightily at the plate in 2019, but for two completely different reasons. They were both outliers when it came to launch angles.
Although he has one of the most ferocious swings in baseball, Guerrero pummelled balls into the ground with regularity throughout the 2019 season. Conversely, the degree of Shaw’s uppercut swing went too far north, turning line drives into pop-ups and fly outs.
Somehow, these two were on the polar opposite of the launch angle chart in 2019 and find themselves in the same roster in 2020 with the same issue; they need to get their swing plane back on track.
Player
AVG Launch Angle
Ranking
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
6.7 °
16th lowest
Travis Shaw
24.4 °
1st highest
Let’s start with Vladdy, whose 6.7 degree average launch angle was the 18th lowest among hitters with 250 or more plate appearances in 2019. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Shaw who …

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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

Here’s how the Blue Jays’ Steamer projections look for 2020

One year ago, most projection models predicted Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be the biggest contributor for the Blue Jays in 2019. In actuality, Cavan Biggio led all Blue Jays position players with 2.4 fWAR last season. Vladdy finished tenth on the team with 0.4 WAR.
2020 is a new season and a fresh opportunity for the Blue Jays’ franchise third baseman to make some improvements. Dan Szymborski’s ZIPS projections for the Blue Jays will be unveiled soon, but in the meantime, the 2020 Steamer projections have been released.
Not only does it look like Vladdy will have a bounce-back season, one teammate might equal his total, with a few other Blue Jays nipping at their heels.
Player
WAR
Position Ranking
Bo Bichette
3.6
11th
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
3.6
12th
Danny Jansen
2.1
7th
Cavan Biggio
2.1
15th
Randal Grichuk
1.8
19th
Reese McGuire
1.5
19th
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
1.4
27th
Both Guerrero and Bo Bichette are tied with 3.6 WAR projected WAR for the 2020 season, with most of Vladdy’s value coming on offense, while Bo’s WAR projection is evenly weighted on offense and defense this coming season.
The shortstop position in Major League Baseball is extremely top-heavy, and despite Bichette’s strong showing in the …

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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

Looking back at Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s load management regimen

The status of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be one of the most hotly contested Blue Jays storylines this winter. Judging by some of his latest workout videos, it looks like Vladdy’s already well on his way to being in the “best shape of his life.”
Regardless, all eyes will be on the 20-year-old when spring training opens up in late February.
While the Blue Jays never came outright and said it, the team used a load management schedule with Guerrero throughout the 2019 season. For certain stretches, it was used to help ease him back into action after a few injuries. Unlike his counterparts Bo Bichette and Biggio, Guerrero never stationed himself in the field for long stretches.
For anyone who cares to scroll through his entire 2019 schedule, here’s how the Blue Jays structured Guerrero’s on-days/off-days and DH days. Nobody else on the roster had a schedule like this which kept them off the diamond this often.

The Coles Notes version of this schedule is as follows; Guerrero never played more than five consecutive games at third base at any point during the 2019 season. The sixth day was always a “load management” day or a DH day.


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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

It turns out, Vlad does actually lift

In the September content that we all crave, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was quoted earlier this week to have never lifted weights in the offseason before, but he is going to start now. As it turns out with a pre-game quote before the Blue Jays play against the Trash Birds on Monday, he actually does lift, bro.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., just met with media to clarify comments from the weekend, says he does lift weights, just not when home in DR, where he does other types of workouts. #BlueJays
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) September 23, 2019

What Guerrero actually meant was that he usually lifts in the winter, but just not when he’s at home in the Dominican Republic. Makes sense, because who wants to workout when you’re trying to relax?
But as the season has carried on and the worries have grown, the 20-year-old is in need for an improvement if he wants to lead this team in 2020. The third baseman is carrying a .789 OPS (110 OPS+) and has a total of 2.1 bWAR through his 119 major-league games.
It’s not the worst, but it’s less than everyone expected heading into his rookie season. The former top prospect was heralded to have …

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation

Let Vladdy play third base until he can’t

From the moment Vladimir Guerrero Jr. set foot at third base during his Major League debut on April 26, the countdown started towards his eventual shift across the diamond. It’s not a question of if the Blue Jays will convert him into a first baseman; it’s when.
Vladdy’s had his fair share of difficulties at third base this season. His spectacular arm has been on display for many throws across the diamond, but his footwork could use some work.
After his latest lower body injury, the masses have already started calling for Guerrero to change positions and shift to first base. A 20-year-old third baseman, abandoning the position where he’s spent less than a full season so far? Right.
It’s a tad premature to pull the parachute on Guerrero’s native position before he’s barely played it. I’m not debating whether he’ll move to first base (he will), but much like giving a young starting pitcher every opportunity before converting them into a reliever, the Blue Jays need to apply the same philosophy here; let Vladdy play third base until he can’t.
Admittedly, Guerrero’s defensive numbers at third base aren’t …

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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays drop first series of second half against Yankees in New York

Fresh off a relaxing and, thanks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., invigorating All-Star break, the Blue Jays hoped to get back into the swing of things in the Bronx, taking on the New York Yankees in a three-game series.
Unfortunately for them, they were unable to keep the Yankees’ bats at bay, failed to make solid (and consistent) contact, and missed the mark with runners in scoring position. Still, they managed to claw out one victory against one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the weird from the first series of the second half:
The Good
Eric Sogard (4-for-12, R, HR, RBI, BB, 2B) and Randal Grichuk (3-for-11, HR, 3 RBI, R) had respectable stretches, with Danny Jansen (3-for-7, 3 TB) also contributing admirably both behind the plate and at the plate.
On the mound, relievers Sam Gaviglio (2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 2 SO) and Nick Kingham (2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 3 SO) were solid, with Marcus Stroman (6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R/ER, 2 BB, 7 SO, L) performing excellently in what could very well be his final start in a Blue Jays uniform.
The Bad
Most of the team’s offensive forces, including Freddy Galvis (2-for-11, …

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation

Vlad Jr. destroys some baseballs, comes second in Home Run Derby

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. displayed his immense level of power tonight in Cleveland and shocked the whole baseball world while breaking some records on his way.
The MLB installed that new format for the derby and it provided some sheer entertainment, a lot of it coming from Vlad Jr. In just his first round, the 1-8 matchup against Oakland’s Matt Chapman, Vlad Jr. broke the record for most home runs in a single round with 29. The previous record was Josh Hamilton with 28, so it fits perfectly that the Blue Jays destroy the Rangers yet again.
Not only did Vlad break the record in the first round, but he matched his total with another 29 homers in the semi-final of the derby, facing off against Dodgers’ Joc Pederson. These weren’t simple flyers that just sneaked over the fence either, Vlad was bringing his typical explosive swing.

VLAD JR. #HRDerby pic.twitter.com/q5uDsjaDU5
— MLB (@MLB) July 9, 2019

If there is any space left, this should be put up in the AGO and never taken down.
In total, Vlad Jr. hit 91 home runs — more than four teams have in the first half of the 2019 season. That 91 carries throughout derby history as well, …

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays split rainy four-game series in Chicago

Fresh off of Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s first home run in San Francisco, the Blue Jays hoped to carry that momentum to Guaranteed Rate Field, where, this weekend, they battled the middling White Sox in a four-game set that took place over the course of a soggy weekend in the Windy City.
With some clutch hits and strong performances from their relievers, the Blue Jays were able to take two of the four games, including a 10-2 win on Friday. Though the outlook still looks relatively bleak, the series did highlight a couple of positives in the team’s game.
Here’s a look at the good, the bad, and the weird from this weekend’s set in Chicago:
The Good
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (4-for-12, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R) had himself an excellent series, as did Danny Jansen (4-for-10, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB), the latter of which surprisingly came alive in this set with a phenomenal set of at-bats after nearly two months of subpar plate appearances.
Elsewhere in the lineup, Billy McKinney (6-for-12, HR, 3 R, 2 2B) was incredibly productive in his own right.
On the mound, Trent Thornton (6.0 IP, 3 H, ER, 4 SO, BB) tossed a gem, while relievers Daniel Hudson (1.0 IP, …

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation