Earlier this season I did a comparison between Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and his father with regards to the kind of hitters they were during their first few years in professional baseball. It’s one thing to compare father to son, but now that Junior’s miracle season has concluded, we can go about examining how his performance as a 19-year old compares to some of the other greatest players of all-time when they were a similar age.
When looking at Guerrero’s 2018 statistics, it’s fair to say we might possibly be dealing with the single greatest teenage hitter ever. So when the Major League Baseball Players Association voices their displeasure that such a talent remains in the minor leagues, they most certainly have a point.
Prior to becoming an Angel and his game going south, Albert Pujols had an incredible 975 walks to just 704 strikeouts while a member of the Cardinals. Guerrero has a similarly impressive ability to draw walks, limit strikeouts, all while hitting for power. And it’s a big part of his game that really separates him from some of the greatest hitters that have played in recent years.
Even Mike Trout, the best player in the game today, couldn’t match what Guerrero has done at 19. If the Blue Jays are so concerned about drawing-out Guerrero’s service time, why not just do as the Angels did with Trout and offer him a multi-year contract before he even becomes arbitration eligible. That way, instead of the seven years you’re planning to have him for, you instead hold onto him for 8-years or possibly even more.
Pujols played 133 games in the minors when he was 20, but 109 of those games were in low A. Even as a 20-year old playing Single A, Pujols’ numbers still don’t come close to matching Guerrero when it comes to AVG, OBP, and HR per AB. Of all the players included with Guerrero on the above list, Alex Rodriguez’ numbers come the closest to matching that of Toronto’s star prospect. With Rodriguez however, a player so tainted by steroid scandals throughout his time in baseball, one has to wonder if perhaps he was even taking some PEDs at such an early stage in his career.
I’m not entirely sure the Blue Jays understand just how good Guerrero is and will be. Otherwise they certainly wouldn’t be dicking around with all this seven years vs six years control BS. The Blue Jays have to do everything they can not to take advantage and risk pissing him off. Toronto shouldn’t be thinking how they can keep Guerrero for seven years…they need to be concerned about how they can keep him for 8, 9, or 10+ years. And a good way to go about accomplishing such a feat is by not jerking him around with this whole service time loop hole.