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Blue Jays 40-man Roster Review: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took another step back in 2023

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Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
3 months ago
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been in the league for five years.
This is the 40-man Roster Review, in which we’re going to take a look back at each player on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster, and how they performed in 2023, as well as their outlook for 2024.
Yet, we’re still asking when he’ll hit the potential that he had when he was one of the league’s best prospects heading into the 2019 season.
By no means is Guerrero Jr. a bad player. For his career, he’s slashing .279/.355/.490 with 130 home runs in 2483 plate appearances, along with a 9.7 BB% and a 16 K%. He has a career 130 wRC+, along with an American League Gold Glove at first base, and has accumulated 10.1 fWAR.
Still, he’s always wanted fans asking for more, and 2023 is a perfect example of this. Last season, Guerrero Jr. slashed .264/.345/.444 with 26 homers in 682 plate appearances, along with a 9.8 BB% and a 14.7 BB% for a 118 wRC+. He also had a 1 fWAR. 
Like these good numbers for most players, but not for a player that had superstar potential early in his career. In fact, this season reminded me of his 2019 and 2020 season, where Guerrero Jr. was solid, but still finding his way in the league.
The 2021 season remains the one season where he looked like a superstar. He slashed .311/.401/.601 with 48 home runs in 698 plate appearances, along with a 12.3 BB% (by far his highest) and a 15.8 K%. Guerrero Jr. finished with a 166 wRC+ this season, as well as a 6.3 fWAR. In any other season, he’d be the runaway MVP, but Shohei Ohtani took home his first career MVP in 2021.
Even compared to his 2022 season, the 2023 was a sharp decline. In 2022, Guerrero Jr. slashed .274/.339/.480 with 32 home runs in 706 plate appearances. The first baseman finished with a 133 wRC+ and had a 2.8 fWAR, and fans (including myself) still wanted more from him.
The big storyline coming into 2024 is if Guerrero Jr. will ever look like his MVP-form self he did for one season. As it stands, it’s the only season where he looked like he could hit his potential, while his other four seasons have been disappointing to various degrees.
There’s some positives though. Remember how before the start of the 2021 season, Guerrero Jr. slimmed down, and that (and minor league ballparks) helped his performance to finish second in MVP voting? Well, the 24-year-old is once again looking jacked in one of his latest Instagram posts.
 
On top of looking in good shape, his Steamer projections for 2024 are optimistic. Per Fangraphs, Steamer predicts he’ll slashed .286/.366/.444 with 36 home runs in 663 plate appearances for a 144 wRC+ and 4.2 fWAR. Of course, this isn’t quite his 2021-form, but it’d easily be his second best season.
Toronto needs him, and players like George Springer and Alejandro Kirk, to be better like they were in 2022, because a lot of the Jays’ issues in 2023 were due to under performance from position players.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D.

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