Let Me Jump The Gun On Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
I know it’s a bold thing to say but Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be the best Blue Jay ever. It’s crazy to think that you can say that about a 19 year old but when you see what he’s doing right now, it makes sense. He is on a short list of players to be called up to AA as a teenager. Other players on that list include: Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton and Manny Machado. So he’s in good company. The best part about Guerrero though is that he isn’t just playing in the minors, he is tearing the minors apart.
Before we compare him to the best Jay ever, we need to talk about who is the best.
Who Is The Best Blue Jay Ever?
There’s three players that can realistically be in the conversation for best Jay ever:
Roberto Alomar, Roy Halladay and Dave Stieb.
Comparing the Pitchers:
The numbers show that Roy Halladay and Dave Stieb weren’t all that far off from one another. Roy Halladay was just a more efficient pitcher and was dominant every year he was in Toronto. In 287 starts with the Blue Jays, Halladay posted a record of 148-76 (66% W-L), 1,495 strikeouts, had six 15+ win seasons and two 20+ win seasons. Comparing Halladay’s numbers with Stieb’s: Stieb started 408 games with the Jays, had a record of 175-134 (57% W-L), 1,658 strikeouts, six 15+ win seasons but no 20+ win seasons.
Halladay won a Cy-Young in 2003 and finished in the top-five four other times (2006-2009). He also added seven All-Star appearances as a Jay. Stieb never won a Cy-Young award but was an All-Star seven times as well during his time. Their ERA’s are practically identical: Halladay 3.43, Stieb 3.42
Halladay’s numbers are slightly better and to the naked eye, he was the more talented of the two. Stieb however, accomplished a couple things Halladay never did in Toronto; he threw the first and only no-hitter in the teams history and he won a World Series with the team in 1992. Halladay played on Jays teams that never made it to the playoffs but he showed that If he had been on a playoff team he could have been a guy to take them deep. After Halladay was traded to the Phillies, in his first postseason start he threw a no-hitter. If you swap Stieb and Halladay on their respective Blue Jays teams, Halladay would have won more and no doubt would have helped them win a World Series.
Slight edge: Halladay
The only fault with the argument for Roberto Alomar is that he was only a Jay for five years (1991-1995). During those five years though, he really broke out as a player and became a star. In Toronto, he won his first Gold Glove (won five with the Jays), he won his first Silver Slugger and was an All-Star every year. He was even the first player to represent the Jays in the Hall of Fame with his induction in 2011.
Even more impressive than those individual accomplishments, Alomar was a huge part of the back-to-back World Series in ‘92 and ‘93. In those two playoff runs he hit for a .320 and .388 average in the respective seasons. In ‘92 he also tallied 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R and 8 SB while grabbing the ALCS MVP. ‘93 was a more successful run for him as he raked in 3 2B, 10 RBI, 8 R and 8 SB to go along with his insane batting average.
Over Alomar’s five years with the team he played in 703 games, hit .307 with a .451 SLG and .833 OBP. He had a total of 342 RBI, 152 2B, 55 HR, 451 R and 206 SB.
Halladay or Alomar?
Because Alomar was a position player and Halladay was a pitcher, I give my vote to Alomar. Alomar was on the field in 703 games with the team in five years while Halladay only started in 408 games in 12 years. Alomar was able to impact the game and a season more than Halladay was able to. Alomar influenced the game offensively by hitting for average, stealing bases and creating runs at the top of the lineup. On the defensive end, Alomar was unmatched up the middle, he was the best infielder and defender in any game he played in.
Halladay unfortunately could only truly impact one in every five games and based on his Games Started with the team, he would only start 24 games a season. Alomar on the other hand averaged 140 Games per season. They both shared a similar average Wins Over Replacement in their times with the teams; Alomar had a 4.2 and Halladay had a 4.25.
Halladay won a Cy-Young but Alomar won a Silver Slugger, five Gold Gloves and two World Series.
Best Jay Ever: Roberto Alomar
How Does Guerrero Jr. Compare to Alomar?
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is an offensive powerhouse. He is the first prospect to ever get an 80 grade hit tool from MLB Pipeline. He already has swing that belongs in the Hall of Fame and absolutely mangles the ball. He hits for power and average and with the help of his dad, Vladimir Guerrero Sr., his swing might even find a way to improve.
Alomar was never really a power threat but you could always count on him to hit .300. When Alomar would get on base, which was often, he was always a threat to steal a bag, score from 1st on a double or get from 1st to 3rd on a base hit.
With the MLB shifting into a homerun or strikeout league, Guerrero’s ability to hit for power and average will make him that much more impactful on a game. There’s much less small ball happening in the MLB so, having a guy who can hit the ball out of the park at any given time will help the team win games. Home runs are sexy, and a lot of the time whatever team hits more home runs is going to win the game.
Guerrero Jr. has a promising upside on the offensive end and will end up in the top teir of power hitting guys for his career. It wouldn’t be crazy to say that Guerrero could have years with an offensive stat line of .330 Avg, .840 SLG,1.100 OPS, 110+ RBI, and 35+ HR. That’s David Ortiz-esque and not many players have ever hit like him.
Offensive Advantage: Vlad Jr.
Alomar was a five-tool player, a menace defensively. He was the best defensive middle infielder in the league almost every year he played. He stole many hits with his unmatched range and reaction time. He’s remembered as one of the best defensive 2nd basemen in league history.
Guerrero Jr. won’t be as good as Alomar, but his defence won’t be as important. In todays game so many players try to hit home runs on every pitch that they usually either strikeout or hit a fly ball. They swing up on the ball to try to lift it out of the park. As an infielder, Guerrero Jr. won’t need to be that dominant defender because most balls will be hit to the outfield.
Alomar had much better footwork and speed than Guerrero in turn giving him better range. As a 3B or 1B you won’t need as much range to get a ball as a 2B or SS. Keeping that into consideration, Vlad will be a fine defensive player but won’t be great like Alomar was.
Defensive Advantage: Alomar
Comparing Vlad’s Minor League Numbers:
Guerrero just got called up to AAA and it’s safe to say he’s fitting in just fine. In 11 games Guerrero has hit for a .441 AVG, .853 SLG, 1.388 OPS, 7 RBI, 4 HR and 8 walks vs 3 strikeouts. Defensively he has been solid with a .942 fielding percentage making only one error.
Since 11 games isn’t a big enough sample size to compare him to other players, we will use the players AA stats instead.
Vlad Jr.’s AA Stats:
61 Games, 94 H, .402 AVG, .671 SLG, 1.120 OPS, 14 HR, 19 2B, 48 R, 60 RBI
Those stats are ridiculous… Come on, this kid almost averages one RBI per game! No wonder he’s the #1 prospect in the MLB right now. Here’s how he compares to some of the best players AA stats:
130 G, 171 H, .319 AVG, .478 SLG, .852 OPS, 12 HR, 41 2B, 88 R, 68 RBI, 43 SB
In more than double the games, Alomar had two less home runs, only eight more RBI and just under 30 more runs. Not to mention Guerrero hit for a better AVG, SLG and OPS.
124 G, 123 H, .270 AVG, .415 SLG, .795 OPS, 9 HR, 37 2B, 67 R, 91 RBI
Donaldson doubled Guerrero’s games played but had five less home runs, hit for a way less AVG, OPS isn’t even comparable and had way less RBI per game.
68 G, 88 H, .355 AVG, .702 SLG, 1.160 OPS, 22 HR, 20 2B, 61 R, 58 RBI
Bryant has been one of the more gifted hitters in the league over the past few seasons and his stat line is very similar to that of Guerrero. Bryant played in seven more games but Guerrero had six more hits, two more RBI and a better AVG. The SLG and OPS categories were roughly the same and Bryant had six more home runs than Guerrero and just one more 2B.
69 G, 83 H, .322 AVG, .585 SLG, .964 OPS, 14 HR, 22 2B, 40 R, 56 RBI
Ortiz is one of the best hitters to step foot on this earth and Guerrero’s AA stint was much better than Ortiz’s. Guerrero had more hits, runs, RBI and a better AVG, SLG and OPS. They hit for the same amount of HR with Ortiz playing eight more games and Ortiz had three more doubles.
116 G, 141 H, .307 AVG, .492 SLG, .878 OPS, 12 HR, 23 2B, 94 R, 43 RBI
Here, Guerrero blows Mike Trout out of the water. Now this doesn’t count all the stuff that Trout does defensively but the numbers are what the numbers are.
134 G, 147 H, .285 AVG, .667 SLG, 1.059 OPS, 12 HR, 36 2B, 55 R, 56 RBI
I’m not saying that Guerrero is going to be better than all these guys but if he can give the offensive production of a Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado, he will be a major force in this league. As long as he stays a Blue Jay for 5+ years, offensive numbers like that will propel him to the top of the all time Jays list and into the hearts of Jays fans.