The Blue Jays signed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a 7-year, $22 million contract before the 2017 season.
Lourdes played all the infield spots and left field in the Cuban National Series. Gurriel had great batting stats in Cuba. In 2016, he hit .344/.407/.560 with 10 home runs, 21 walks and 23 strikeouts in 59 games.
He didn’t do as well as we expected in 2017, hitting .229/.268/.339 splitting time between Dunedin and New Hampshire. He did do much better in the AFL, .291/.309/.494, but that was in just 81 PA.
I’m sure that we discount the effect of homesickness, the effect of learning a new country, with a new language and, in the case of going from Cuba to New Hampshire, the effect of a new climate.
We dropped him 12 places on our top prospect list, going from 6th to 18th.
Before the season I asked “where Lourdes would be come September?”
Well, most of us were wrong. Not only was he spend September in the majors, He was a major leaguer from July 1st on, as well as spending much of the first half with the team.
Offensively, he wasn’t bad:
Baseball Reference had him at a 0.1 WAR. FanGraphs 0.4 WAR, giving him a value of $3.3 million.
He had a .322 wOBA and a 103 wRC+.
Lourdes walk rate was 3.4% (team average 8.2%), strikeout rate 22.4% (team 22.8%).
Hit rates, line drive 23.7% (team average 21.1), ground ball 43.2% (team 41.0) and fly ball 33.2 (team37.9 ). 17.5% of his fly balls left the park (team 13.9).
Gurriel hard contact rate was 30.6% (team 33.5) and soft contact was 15.5% (team 18.8).
His BABIP was .326.
He hit LHP (better .310/.347/.479) than RHP (.270/.294/.433).
Lourdes wasn’t great with RISP (.263/.279/.263).
He hit better in the second half (.290/.324/.478) than the first half (.270/.287/.405).
Lourdes by month:
- April: .267/.290/.367 with 1 home run in 9 games.
- May: ..158/.179/.263 with 1 home run in 11 games.
- June: .500/.500/1.250 with 1 home run in 1 game.
- July: .423/.438/.648 with 4 home runs in 17 games.
- August: ..125/.185/.125 with no homers in 6 games.
- September: .256/.295/.439 with 4 homers in 21 games.
He was having that great stretch at the end of July, 11 straight games with more than 1 hit and then he hurt his ankle. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Defense? It wasn’t good. He played 351.1 innings at short. FanGraphs has him at a -18.0 UZR/150. He made 7 errors, 5 fielding, 2 throwing. To me, he seemed to improve as the season went on, he only made 1 error the last month of the season. Many of his errors seemed to be because he didn’t take charge at short. I’d imagine, for some players, it would be tough to be the ‘take charge’ person as soon as you hit the majors.
He played 197 innings at second base and had better numbers, -1.4 UZR/150 and 2 errors. I don’t know that he’s actually better at the position, or if it is a sample size thing. He does seem to have plenty of arm for short.
FanGraphs has him at -0.8 runs as a baserunner. He had 1 steal and 2 times caught. It seems like he has enough speed, I’m hoping he’s better on the bases in the future.
The Jays were 24-38 in his starts.
His longest hitting streak was 12 games and you’ll remember he had an 11 game multi-hit game streak.
Where Lourdes hit in the lineup, he started:
1st: 8 games.
2nd: 25 games.
3rd: 2 games.
5th: 1 game.
6th: 6 games.
7th: 4 games.
8th: 7 games.
9th: 9 games.
He hit in every spot in the lineup other than cleanup.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Jays end up using Gurriel. We could come out of spring training with Lourdes playing any spot but catcher or center field (and he likely would be find in CF) and I wouldn’t be surprised. Or he could end up a ‘super utility’ player, playing all over the place.
If the team traded Justin Smoak, I could see him playing first base. Left field? If Teoscar Hernandez’ defense drives Charlie Montoyo as crazy as it does the rest of us, then Gurriel could play out there. Third? Someone has to play there for the first few weeks of the season. And, of course, short and second are up for grabs.
I’m not sure that I want him to play short, since I’m expecting Bo Bichette to take the spot sometime in 2020 and I’d kind of like Gurriel to learn the position that he’s going to play for the rest of his career.
It would be nice if he would walk more. I’m kind of thinking he will as he gets more relaxed about being in the majors. He hit 11 homers in just 65 games. He could be a 25-30 home run guy. If he got on base a bit more his bat would play in a corner outfield spot or anywhere on the field.
He would be a good supporting piece for Vlad Jr. It’s just figuring out where he fits.