I’ve been fighting the urge to do a comparison piece between Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and his father Vladimir Sr. for a while now. At first it didn’t seem fair to compare a teenage ball player to one of the greatest players to ever play this game. But the more we see of Guerrero Jr., the more we realize his potential for greatness as well.
Now that Guerrero Jr. has 1 1/2 seasons of minor league baseball under his belt, lets take a look at how his game compares to that of his fathers at a similar age. For the purposes of this article and to avoid confusion, we’ll refer to these two great ball players as ‘Sr’ and ‘Jr’.
Sr. didn’t start playing minor league baseball until he was 19 years old…whereas his son got his start at 17 when he began playing rookie ball for the Bluefield Blue Jays. Sr. played a full season in Single A at the age of 20, while his son played a full season last year in Single A and Advanced Single A at the age of 18. Both Sr. and Jr. were/are remarkable talents at a young age, but Jr. was playing at a level (A+) that his father wasn’t playing at until he was three years older. The table below compares Sr’s 1995 season in Single A to his sons 2017 season at a comparable level.
Although Sr. did show a slight advantage in power numbers, this is to be expected when comparing a 20-year old to someone who’s just 18. Jr. also struck out at a slightly higher rate (11.8%) than his father (9.7%), but he more than made up for it with how much more he walked, 14.4% compared to 6.5%. Sr. wasn’t the best at drawing walks and it shows with his walk to strikeout ratio of 0.67. Jr. on the other hand had a mind boggling walk to strikeout ratio of 1.23, which was a big reason why his OBP was 42 points higher than that of his father.
Many people are wondering how soon it will be before Jr. is playing in the big leagues. What can’t be forgotten is that he hasn’t even turned 19 yet and won’t be for another two months. For those hoping to see Jr. soon in a Blue Jays uniform, the good news is that he’s much closer to playing in the majors than his father was at a similar age. As great a player as Sr. was, his rookie season (1997) didn’t take place until he was 22 years old. Considering that Jr. is about to enter his age 19 season and will likely begin the year in Double A New Hampshire, it’s pretty clear that Jr. will be a regular in the big leagues at a much younger age than his father was.
As great as Jr. is looking at the plate, there are parts of his game that still need refining in the minors. Similar to his father, the weakest part of his game is his defense, something he’ll have to fine tune for at least another year in the minor leagues. If Jr. is to play at least one more season in the minors prior to making the jump to the Blue Jays, we could be seeing him on an everyday basis in Toronto by the time he’s 20.