Toronto Blue Jays beat writer Ben Nicholson-Smith has grown on me. Going back over the past year when I started to follow the Blue Jays a little bit due to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s arrival, I began reading more of Nicholson-Smith’s articles.
He’s a solid baseball writer, and he knows the league well. In his latest write-up for SportsNet Canada, he offers five bold predictions for 2020. One of them is that Francisco Lindor is dealt at the deadline this year. Another one is that Mookie Betts signs a deal that matches Gerritt Cole’s contract, albeit not with the Boston Red Sox.
Another though, is what he sees coming for Guerrero Jr., and it’s nice look into the crystal ball.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 27, 2019
In his fifth and final proclamation of 2020, Nicholson-Smith made a bold but realistic prediction. Furthermore, it’s great to see this from someone who covers the Jays on daily (and objective) basis.
5. This will be the year Vladimir Guerrero Jr. breaks out
I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong about Guerrero Jr.’s rookie season. He didn’t live up to the lofty expectations awaiting him in Toronto.
But he’s still just 20 years old, younger than some players hoping to be drafted next summer, and Vlad Jr. did hold his own in 2019, posting a .772 OPS with 15 home runs. Plus, he appears to be trending in the right direction. Even though he dealt with some late-season fatigue, Guerrero Jr. posted an .801 OPS in the second half.
From an analytical standpoint, the Steamer projection system forecasts a .295/.363/.501 slash line with 25 home runs. And more subjectively, the Blue Jays like what they’re seeing from Guerrero Jr.’s workouts.
“He’s committed,” Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said last month. “He has not missed a beat.”
In 2020, Guerrero Jr. will live up to the hype and establish himself once and for all as an all-star calibre hitter.
Honestly, I can see it. I don’t think Guerrero Jr. will jump off the page with the power numbers just yet. Still, I think he will announce his presence with a near .900 OPS and the on-base will land somewhere in the .360’s where it will stay for the next decade.