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Stat projection already sees Vlad Jr. as elite

No. 1 prospect in baseball could be on verge of historic rookie season
November 2, 2018

We've all heard and read the superlatives when it comes to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. But the Blue Jays phenom and son of Hall of Fame outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is projected to not only thrive when he gets to the Majors in 2019, but

We've all heard and read the superlatives when it comes to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. But the Blue Jays phenom and son of Hall of Fame outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is projected to not only thrive when he gets to the Majors in 2019, but also to be among the best players in the game.
FanGraphs Steamer projections for 2019 were released on Friday, ranking each player in the game according to several categories. The projections have Guerrero, who has yet to make his highly-anticipated MLB debut, as the 14th-best player in baseball based on Wins Above Replacement. The 19-year-old's projected 4.7 WAR puts him on par with elite players like the Yankees' Aaron Judge and the Rockies' Nolan Arenado, both perennial candidates for the Most Valuable Player Award in their respective leagues. It also ranks higher than players like Trea Turner, Josh Donaldson and Jose Altuve.
The players ahead of Guerrero on the list are Michael Trout, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Kristopher Bryant, Corey Seager, Jose Ramirez, Anthony Rendon, Alex Bregman, Christian Yelich, Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Bryce Harper and Carlos Correa. Talk about heady company for a player that has yet to play in a big league game.

Guerrero is projected to hit .306/.368/.511 with 22 home runs in 138 games next season. He has surged through every level of the Minors, most recently at Triple-A Buffalo, where he slashed .336/.414/.564 with six homers in 30 games. That was following a midseason promotion from Double-A New Hampshire, where he posted a .402/.449/.671 slash line with 14 homers in 61 games.
The third baseman was named MLB Pipeline's Hitter of the Year, leading the Minor Leagues in batting average (.381), slugging percentage (.636) and OPS (1.073). Until an Arizona Fall League game on Thursday, Guerrero hadn't had back-to-back hitless games since July 20-21, 2017. In his first three AFL games for the Surprise Saguaros, he hit .643 and drove in six runs to earn AFL Player of the Week honors.

"I can just control what I can control," Guerrero said through a translator on Oct. 16. "I am going to come next year and have fun with the guys and let the team decide when and how I am going to get to Toronto."
It's only a matter of time until Guerrero is called up to the big leagues, and his MLB debut will be among the most highly anticipated ever. If the Steamer projections are any guide, Guerrero's could be a rookie season for the ages.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.