Jays From The Couch Is Missing Blue Jays Baseball, So We’ll Preview The 2020 Season For Individual Players. This Time, Lourdes Gurriel Jr
The Toronto Blue Jays signed Lourdes Gurriel Jr.to a 7 year/ $22M deal during the 2016 offseason and last season gave us a glimpse of why that deal might be a steal for the club.
Gurriel would make his MLB debut in 2018, hitting 11 homers in 65 games and putting up a near .800 OPS. It was enough of a taste that the Blue Jays planned on him being part of their 2019 roster. But, some really bad defense sent him to AAA in the middle of April. The infield experiment all but ended and he went to Buffalo, gained playing time in the outfield and returned 6 weeks later and looked like a new player.
The bulk of his playing time came from left field, which proved to be a rather nice spot for him. He was able to show off his powerful arm and put up decent numbers: -2 DRS and UZR/150 of -0.5. We can’t over sell it, of course, given that he put up -4 OAA in left, but he definitely looked a lot more comfortable there than in the infield. His defense was solid enough that it allowed his bat to stay in the lineup everyday, which is where he stands out.
In 2019 (84 games), Gurriel put up 20 HR, 50 RBI, slashed .277/.327/.541, a wRC+ of 124 and 1.8 fWAR. Doing this in half a season is rather impressive and gives the Blue Jays some excitement for the 2020 season. We’re staring down the barrel of half a season (if that) of baseball this season, so the club will have to wait to see what a FULL season of Gurriel would produce.
However, there are some numbers that they can hang their hats on that make him look like a rather big part of their lineup moving forward. Refer to the following via Baseball Savant:
Exit Velocity: 71st percentile
Hard Hit%: 82nd
Looking at these numbers, Gurriel should be expected to put up some very nice numbers somewhere in the heart of that Blue Jays lineup. If we add his being in the 66th percentile for sprint speed, we should expect him to hit closer to the top of the lineup, but his power potential likely makes him a rather nice 3-6 hitter. That said, where he hits is not overly important. He’d make an excellent addition and should be counted on for production.
In fact, according to Fangraphs, Gurriel is projected to hit roughly 25 HR, 80 RBI and 100 wRC+. What brings him down is the projected OBP of just above .300, which is not overly exciting. But, with a career walk rate of just below 5%, can we really question the projection? The even better question is whether we care, or not. Obviously, Gurriel seeing an OBP closer to his .327 mark in 2019 would be better, but the Blue Jays would likely take it if it came with 25+ HR and somethign approaching 90-100 RBI.
And, when it comes to Gurriel Jr, that is the real value he brings to the table. He will produce offensively. He has grown into the left field role and should benefit from not suffering through the mind games a defensive collapse like last season can bring. With a clear head, a clear role and maybe just a little improvement in patience, the Blue Jays should be enjoying what they get out of Gurriel Jr in 2020.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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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.