Every year when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. shows up at Blue Zeus Spring Camp, one of the main themes of winter is with him.
Leading the 2018 and 2019 campaigns, Guerrero caused a stir as Toronto’s ninth hopes were square on him. In 2020, Guerrero’s body shape and defensive stance were the focus of attention when he was transferred to the first base. All of this remains a topic of conversation in 2021, but with a more optimistic tone for the 22-year-old Guerrero in March.
If you keep an eye on Guerrero’s Instagram account this winter, you ‘ve seen some videos of Dominican working on his fitness, and he’s made a lot of progress in this regard. His defense, while attracting attention and battling to regain the third base, has been said to be less about Guerrero’s attack, which he long ago considered elite. When he had the best chance in the major leagues.
Blue Zeus hopes Guerrero’s improved physical condition will allow him to perform better at bat.
“It has a lot to do with the athletic ability you can reflect,” said General Manager Rose Atkins. “Your physical condition is better, there will be things that can be reproduced because you can reproduce them more in your practice.”
“Play” is the key word here. At the end of 2019, Guerrero saw that he was tired and he felt that way. There were times when he created a violent swing, but on several occasions he dropped his arms and shoulders, causing the ball to fall to the ground. Looking at his measurements in 2019, Guerrero’s average teasing angle was 369th out of 398 batteries with a stroke of 6.7, 100 or more. In the compressed 2020 season, that number dropped to 4.6 degrees, ranking 325th out of 352 hitters with 50 or more appearances.
The idea, therefore, is to allow this superior version of Guerrero to recreate the best version of his swing with greater consistency than the last two seasons. In a perfect world, Guerrero’s winter changes will allow him to increase his swing not only in spring training, but in 162 games and playoffs. Exit speed will never be an issue for Guerrero, but improving his tee angle will be key to achieving his potential.
If Guerrero can be as similar to his athletic ability as Atkins says, he will offer more opportunities to contribute as a designated hitter to other Blue Jays hitters. However, Guerrero divides his playing time between first and third floors and uses it as a joke in one-third of his games – as happened in 2020 – not suitable for Toronto.
Now, Blue Zeus has four “opening” perspectives: George Springer, Lourdes Curiel Jr., DeScar Hernandez and Randall Krichchuk. If the broad receiver Alejandro Kirk is on the arm team, he will represent another bat that can serve as a joke from time to time. So, if Guerrero plays with safety every day and leaves the PD role as an option for others, Blue Zeus with a better team.
He is still in early 2021, but as far as things are under his control, Guerrero has done everything right. There is no magical formula to turn these physical changes into good average and high OPS. But if you let Guerrero really know who Bat is all season, all of those conversations will come back to what he talked about in Dominican in 2015: his immense potential.