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The Blue Jays Need Their Star Back Sooner than Later

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The Toronto Blue Jays had a win right in front of them until it slipped away. The moment that went from a win to a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night came from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. It looked like an easy play and out, a scoop by Isiah Kiner-Falefa who threw it across the diamond to Guerrero. The ball clipped off Guerrero’s glove and tumbled past him into foul territory. The error extended the fifth inning and allowed the Royals to score their first run of the game.

“What can I say? I just missed the ball. Period,”: Guerrero said through a club interpreter.

These happen, they do. It was Guerrero’s first error of the season but it’s a simple play like that which needs to be made more often than not. However, Guerrero is batting .217 with a .681 OPS. His last home run was on April 10 against the Seattle Mariners and has one extra-base hit to his name. Even though it’s still early in the season, the Blue Jays need their star back.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Needs to Find His Game

Since September 2022, Guerrero has the eighth lowest fWAR (1.6) of any player with a minimum of 800 plate appearances. Despite this, his greatest strength is to combine contact and power. In 2021, 20 qualified hitters had an ISO of .250 or better. The young Guerrero had the second-lowest strikeout rate at 15.8 percent. The only other player to strike out less from that group was José Ramirez.

Last season, Guerrero had the highest contact rate of his career. In 2021, he had a huge hole in his swing at the bottom of third of the strike zone. While he’s making more contact, he’s closed it. 2021 is on the left, 2023 is on the right, per Baseball Savant. He needs to get the bat on the ball on a more consistent basis. He hits the ball hard to all fields and he’s worse off for it.


Blue Jays Manager Believes in Guerrero

John Schneider believes in Guerero. After all, he did come up through the minor leagues managing the club’s best young prospect it had ever seen. When he’s at his best he’s a game-changing talent. That’s why Schneider is optimistic about the 25-year-old, he’s a swing away from getting the monkey off his back.

“The swings have gotten a bit big on the pitches he can really hammer,” Schneider said. “It’s about him understanding: just take your at-bat. Yesterday was a perfect example. He gets a single and it’s like, ‘Maybe that’s your next at-bat, too. You don’t have to go deep.’ Vlad’s right there. He’s one of the most dangerous guys in the league. His swings have been just a bit big — long if you will. I love the quality of his at-bats overall.”

Schneider backed up his player who just made a bad play at the wrong time. But these hiccups matter later on in the season when the hunt for the postseason begins to get tight by October. If Guerrero continues to stay cold at the plate or make another costly error, it might be time to move him down the lineup or bench him to send a message. To make matters worse, Guerrero has one extra-base hit in his 51 plate appearances.

Main Photo: © Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports


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