The steamer projections system released their predictions for the 2019 season on Friday, and they see Vladimir Guerrero Jr making an immediate impact.
It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be playing in the big leagues in 2019, maybe even as soon as Opening Day, or more likely a few weeks into the season.
Regardless of the start date, the expectations are going to be pretty high for the teenage phenom as he’s made a name for himself at every stop of his short minor league development thus far. He terrorized Double-A pitching by hitting over .400, continued to dominate in Triple-A, and now he’s been the most dangerous hitter in the Arizona Fall League as well.
There’s bound to be a bit of an adjustment period for him once he arrives at the highest level, but so far he’s made every challenge look pretty routine. Could he do the same thing in the big leagues as a rookie?
Well, if you ask the Steamer Projections system, they think he’s going to be dominant right out of the gate.
By the time Opening Day rolls around Guerrero will have just turned 20 in March, and has yet to play in a big league game. That doesn’t matter much to Steamer though, as they have him listed as a top 10 hitter in baseball next season according to their projections.
They have him coming in with a slash line of .306/.368/.511 slash line, adding 22 home runs and 77 RBI, and 30 doubles in 138 games played. That’s pretty ambitious for a rookie to say the least, but it’s not impossible at all. However, I think what strikes me the most is the names that he’s ahead of according to these projections.
Having a look at the tweet from Sportnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith above, you’ll see that just below Guerrero are a few notable hitters, including Kris Bryant of the Cubs, Shohei Ohtani of the Angels, and Joey Votto of the Reds. These are not average hitters, as Bryant was the NL MVP in 2016, and Votto is regarded as one of the best all-around hitters of the current generation.
Is this an unfair amount of pressure to put on the young man? The answer is probably, but so far it hasn’t looked like anything has phased him since becoming a professional. He’s routinely been the youngest player in any league he’s participated in, and yet has made himself look like a man among boys. There’s no question about whether he’s ready for the next challenge of the big leagues.
It wasn’t more than a month or two ago that I wrote a piece speculating on whether or not Guerrero Jr. might be the Blue Jays’ best hitter in 2019. According to Steamer’s projections, that should be the easy part for the phenom.