Vladimir Guerrero Jr.(‘s ghostwriter) wrote a thing!
Blue Jays fans and Expos fans alike were treated to some outstanding Vladdy content this morning, as the younger Guerrero has published a great tribute to his father, who looks like he’s on track to be voted into the Hall of Fame next summer. It’s a nice piece on the human side of one of the game’s true greats — and one of the game’s greatest prospects.
What is perhaps especially interesting, though, is how through it we can see directly some of the things that so appeal to clubs when it comes to prospects with “big league bloodlines.” Vladito, in addition to his incredible natural abilities, had an exceptional role model for big league success in his life. (Many, actually!)
The bloodline thing is something that Ross Atkins has spoken about publicly as a potential differentiator in terms of evaluating prospects, but beyond that there was a pretty specific reason I was seeing this sort of stuff in the Players’ Tribune piece, and it comes from the Hardball Times’ ongoing Franchise Player Draft project.
Young Vlad is taken 14th in this fantasy draft, just one selection after the Aaron Judge (who, somewhat inexplicably, was taken after Yankee prospect Gleyber Torres; also Gary Sanchez was taken later on, and the Yankees have Giancarlo Stanton now, too — god, fuck the Yankees). Eli Ben-Porat, who made the pick, begins justifying it thusly:
“Elite prospects with elite bloodlines are extremely rare, producing exceptional outcomes. The most recent example of a top-10 prospect whose father had significant success in the major leagues, was Prince Fielder, who had a spectacular six-year run of hitting dominance before injuries took their toll. Baseball America’s top 100 lists go back only to 1990, but I’m sure Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. would have been top 10 prospects. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., should he continue this trend, looks poised to begin an exceptional baseball career, the kind of career you can build an organization around.”
That, uh, is indeed some seriously elite company! And though I don’t think the sample of elite prospect sons of elite big league fathers is big enough to be especially meaningful, that… um… a pretty incredible way to think about what the Jays might have here in Guerrero.
A more tangible reason to be ridiculously excited for Vlad, though, comes elsewhere in Eli’s work. Specifically, the graph below, which maps High-A batters since 2010 by age and by Ball%-Called Strike% — a metric Ben-Porat explains like this: “After his promotion to High-A Dunedin, Vlad Jr. posted a 25.7 percent Ball%-Called Strike percent (i.e. every 100 pitches, he will take 26 more pitches for a ball than for a strike).”
That sounds impressive, but it looks positively fucking otherworldly:
Bo Bichette — whose own father had a pretty nice career (9 WAR) — is pretty impressive in this regard, too, but Vlad! Good lord!
And while this one measure is hardly all you need to know about what makes Vlad special, add this kind of selectivity at this age, at this level, to the elite power and contact skills he possesses, and… it’s just… you get why scouts are salivating over him. I mean… wow.