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The season that was: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

A look at Vlad’s 2023 season

Wild Card Series - Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins - Game One Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Coming into Vladimir Guerrero’s fifth season in the majors, he’d had one amazing season and three good seasons.

2022 was his season best season, falling short of his 2021 season, but it was still pretty good.

We had high hopes for this year. Unfortunately, our hopes weren’t realized.

Standard Batting
24 156 682 602 78 159 30 0 26 94 5 3 67 100 .264 .345 .444 .788 117 23 9 4 5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/23/2023.

Baseball-Reference has him at a 2.0 WAR. FanGraphs 1.0 gave him a value of $7.9 million to the Blue Jays.

He had a .340 wOBA and a 118 wRC+.

Vladimir’s BABIP was .277 (down from .289 last year).

His walk rate was up 9.8% (from 8.2). The strikeout rate was down 14.7% (from 16.4).

Vlad’s line-drive rate increased slightly from last year (18.4% from 17.3). The ground ball rate was down (46.2% from 52.1). Fly balls up (35.4% from 30.6). Fewer of his fly balls left the park (14.5% from 19.9%).

Soft contact was up slightly (15.8% from 15.2), and hard contact was down (36.4% from 38.2).

Vlad had more power vs. RHP (.260/.332/.460) but got on base much better against lefties (.284/.403/.363).

And he hit much better at on the road (.289/.364/.494) than at home (.238/.324/.391). In the past, he’s been better at home. I wonder about the changes in the park.

He hit about the same in the first half of the season (.274/.344/.443) as in the second half (.251/.346/.444).

Vlad by month:

  • April: .309/.384/.491 with 5 home runs, 13 walks, 14 strikeouts, in 28 games.
  • May: .260/.296/.420 with 3 home runs, 5 walks, 25 strikeouts, in 25 games.
  • June: .260/.345/.440 with 4 home runs, 10 walks, 15 strikeouts, in 27 games.
  • July: .239/.336/.435 with 5 home runs, 14 walks, 18 strikeouts, in 24 games.
  • August: .260/.319/.435 with 3 home runs, 8 walks, 12 strikeouts, in 26 games.
  • September: .250/.368/.479 with 6 home runs, 17 walks, 16 strikeouts, in 26 games.

He hit ..269/.339/.396 with RISP.

He was better in high leverage spots (.304/.379/.464) than medium (.249/.331/.416) or low leverage spots (.260/.341/.457).


I’ve never been as big a fan of his defense as Buck and Pat. In the world of standard stats, he had the second most errors among AL first basemen at 8 and was tied for the worst fielding average in the league (still .991, so less than 1 error per 100 plays).

And he had the second-lowest UZR/150 at -0.9. Outs above average has him at a -4 runs compared to the average first baseman. The worst number in the AL was -11 (Nathaniel Lowe, and there were a few other guys with numbers worse at the position).

As a baserunner, FanGraphs has him at a -7.1 runs compared to the average player. He had 5 stolen bases (caught 3 times), which tells me he should stop trying. Outs on the bases continue to be a team-wide problem, and it is a Vlad problem too. John Schneider could help the team by telling them, ‘We don’t have to be aggressive on the basepaths anymore. Go if you are sure, not if you aren’t.’ But I know that isn’t going to happen. Mark did say those outs on the bases are a problem.

Vlad started games hitting:

  • 2nd: 8 games: .206/.308/.353.
  • 3rd: 110 games: .265/.346/.435.
  • 4th: 36 games: .275/.351/.493.

His longest hitting streak was 12 games.

His longest on-base streak was 21 games.

The longest he went without a home run was 16 games.

His longest hitless streak was 3 games, which he did a few times.

The team was 84-70 in his starts.

His favourite team to face was the A’s (.391/.500/.739) in just 6 games.

His least favourite? Twins, hitting .160/.222/160 in 6 games. That doesn't include the playoff games, where he still didn’t hit (.143/.250/.286).

Times facing a starter:

  • First: .252/.351/.386.
  • Second: .285/.345/.523.
  • Third: .252/.348/.485.

I don’t believe advanced stats are great for first basemen yet, but what they tell pretty much confirms my eye test. He can make spectacular plays but sometimes doesn’t seem to make the easy plays. I didn’t believe he was a Gold Glove-level first baseman last year. I don’t think he’s the worst this year. I also don’t buy the narrative that Don Mattingly’s help made him better at the position.

He does have a great arm, but that is kind of wasted at first base. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the range for third. One thing that MLB should do is separate 3-1 assists from other assists. Vlad tends to make the play at first without throwing to the pitcher, if he can, other teams prefer the first baseman always go to the pitcher. But I think Vlad gets more 3-4 assists (and 3-5 assists than most 1Bs. But I can’t prove it.

I don’t know what went wrong with Vlad this year. His walk rate was up, strikeouts down. The line drives up a bit. There are a lot of theories:

  • His mom is not well. That could weigh on a young man.
  • Bad luck? There might have been some of that.
  • The ball wasn’t going as far when he hit it hard. This is a fact. Why is the question? Was there something with the changes to the ballpark?
  • The new ballpark dimensions? He didn’t hit well at home, and he has in the past. I don’t know what it was. Is it possible that the hitting background changed? Or that the walls being closer played with his mind? I don’t know. Maybe a one-year thing? I hope so
  • Pitching coaches telling him to ‘let the ball travel’? His pull percentage was up a bit (42.3% from 39.5). I don’t know. I don’t think the hitting philosophy changed this season. But who knows?
  • No protection in the lineup? I doubt it.
  • Losing his friends in the dugout? It is possible that Teoscar and Lourdes made him happier and gave him people he could bounce ideas off of. Maybe just gave him friends he could talk Spanish to?
  • Injuries? Could be. There were wrist and knee issues.
  • Out of shape? I don’t know that he’s in worse shape than before, but who knows?
  • Fastballs? He did have more trouble with fastballs than in the past. He hit .248./355/.355 against power pitchers.
  • It was an unlucky season? I think there was some of that.
  • All the above? Quite possibly.

The big question is, “Will he be better next year?” He almost has to be. Joe Siddal showed what he thought was wrong with Vlad’s swing. I’m sure the team saw it and will try to work things out.

Apparently, he plans to stay in Florida and work at the facilities in Dunedin over the winter.

It isn’t fair, but I felt, all season long, that had Vlad been the player we expected, we would have enjoyed this year so much more. It was hard to watch the Jays this year. If Vlad had been good, it would have been much better. But then other guys weren’t as good as we expected. It isn’t all on Vlad, but it feels like it is.

Before the season we asked:

  • If the over/under on Vlad’s home runs is 39: 72% of us wrong picking the over.
  • Who will lead the team in RBI? 69% of us were right in picking Vlad.
  • What spot in the other will Vlad hit most? 76% of us were right.
  • Will Vlad be team MVP? 67% of us were wrong.


For his 2023 season I’d give Vladimir Guerrero an

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