Lourdes Gurriel Jr- Credit: DaveMe Images

What can Blue Jays Expect From Gurriel Jr?

 

After moving him to left field, the Toronto Blue Jays enjoyed the production of Gurriel Jr, but is it repeatable? Beatable?

 

 

 

 

After some pretty shoddy defense and a demotion, the Toronto Blue Jays decided to move Lourdes Gurriel Jr to the outfield in the hopes of keeping his bat in the lineup. The decision paid off as it allowed him to find a position he performed well in, which enabled him to show what his bat could do on a consistent basis.

 

Even before Spring Training began, it became clear that left field would be Gurriel’s spot since the club went about adding players like Joe Panik and Ruben Tejada to provide depth in an infield they wanted Gurriel to stay out of. For over 500 innings, he played solid defense and put his short stop arm to use, which he will continue to do this coming season. In fact, it is not unreasonable to think that, with a winter and spring full of coaching, he could improve on his -2 DRS and -0.5 UZR/150.

 

However, the real value in Gurriel’s game comes from his bat.

 

Standard Batting
Year Age G PA R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2018 24 65 263 30 70 8 11 35 9 59 .281 .309 .446 .755
2019 25 84 343 52 87 19 20 50 20 86 .277 .327 .541 .869
2 Yr 2 Yr 149 606 82 157 27 31 85 29 145 .279 .320 .499 .819
162 162 162 659 89 171 29 34 92 32 158 .279 .320 .499 .819
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/16/2020.

 

2019 saw him put up 20 homers, 124 wRC+, .358 wOBA. He was 74th in all of baseball with an average exit velocity of 90.2 mph, he had a hard hit rate of 44.8%, he hit the ball in the ‘sweet spot’ 33.6% of the time and he was 126th in MLB with 26 barrels, which came at a rate of 11.2%. These are all indications that he should be able to repeat his 2019 showing, at the very least. In fact, if you refer to the table above, his numbers look rather attractive over a full season. It is doubtful that he will play 162 games, but 30+ HR, 90+ RBI and an OPS north of .800 makes him a valuable corner outfielder indeed.

 

Yet, if we look at his projections, we see some seemingly conservative numbers for the 26 year old Cuban. They range from 21- 27 HR and 70-95 RBI, which isn’t too far off of that 162 game mark from above. However, this is where it gets funky: the projections have him with an OBP just over .300, which is likely based on the fact that he struck out 25% of the time last year and his Pillar-esque walk rate of 5.8%. Adding all this up, the projections have him with an OPS of between .750 and .820, with only one one having him above .800. That would mean a significant drop of his .869 mark last season. Difficult to imagine.

 

All of this came up because our Pete McCombie compared Gurriel to other AL East left fielders and found that he wasn’t quite up there with Austin Meadows or Andrew Benintendi, which is just fine. Those two have a better track record in left to be sure. That said, offensively, he’s somewhere between the two of them, with the potential to be the best hitting left fielder in the AL East. Not that that is something that the Blue Jays care about. They’re looking to him to put up the best numbers he can, which we can expect will be a major force in the club’s lineup.

 

Everyone is happy with what they saw from Gurriel at the plate and the common assumption is that he will take his spot in the outfield and should be able to, at least, have the same success he did in 2019. The projections expect kinda, sorta the same thing. However, they are a little harsh on his OPS. No one knows if he’ll surpass expectations, of course. We look at some numbers and see what we see and make a guess based on that. The Blue Jays are guessing that Gurriel Jr will be a significant part of their 2020 efforts.

 

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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Shaun Doyle

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.