While the majority of us were wrapping up our work for the day, The Blue Jays front office was busy finalizing a deal with one of the best hitters of in Baseball (over the past 16 years).
Shortly before 4, news broke that Anthopoulos had inked Vladimir Guerrero to a Minor League contract valued at 1.3 Million. The signing of the former American League MVP creates a unique situation for the 17/14 Blue Jays who have been struggling with the bats to begin the season.
One thing we know is that Guerrero can hit. The Dominican Right Hander has compiled a career Batting Average of .317 to compliment a .379 On Base Percentage over 16 seasons in the MLB.
2011 saw the 9 time All Star put up a .290/.317/.416 line while driving in 63 as the Orioles Designated Hitter, his lowest season totals since breaking in to the Majors in 1996. Of Guerrero’s 163 Hits in 2011, 44 of them were for extra bases including 1 Triple and 13 Home Runs proving that the 2 time 40+ HR hitter still has some power left in the bat.
Where he fits into the Blue Jays line up is yet to be decided.
Guerrero hasn’t played the field since 2010 where he got in to handful of games in Texas’ outfield. With his speed & fielding ability being on a steady decline over the past few years, the Designated Hitter spot would seem to be an appropriate fit.
There’s one problem with that outcome, Toronto already has a pretty good DH…
Unquestionably, Edwin Encarnacion has been Toronto’s best overall hitter in 2012 as the power hitting 29 year old has amassed a .269/.323/.588 line coming in to play, Thursday. Encarnacion has put up better over all numbers when he has been the Designated Hitter (.280/.337/.608) compared to when he has been penciled in defensively (.227/.280/.591). These numbers create a strong case for Encarnacion to remain as the Blue Jays full time DH.
VS Left Handed Pitching (2011)
Lind – .243/.275/.364 Encarnacion – .276/.341/.504 Guerrero – .288/.323/.386
It should be noted that Encarnacion’s #’s vs LHP are not terribly impressive in 2012. The Blue Jays DH has put up a .222/.310/.528 line with 10 Strikeouts. Oddly enough, he has better over all numbers vs Right Handed Pitching (.287/.333/.598) however we are only a month in to the season, things are bound to change. Lind on the other hand has a mere 4 hits in 28 AB’s vs LHP in 2012 and has a career Batting Average of .219 vs South Paws.
2011′s numbers lead one to believe that if Guerrero was to get a chance to play in Toronto, it would more than likely mean that he would see time as the DH vs Left Handed Pitching. With Vlad as the DH, Encarnacion would move over to 1st (despite the drop in offense) and Lind would ride the pine.
Adam Lind has flat out struggled to begin the 2012 season. Coming in to the Minnesota series, Lind is hitting a mere .198 to go with 20 Strikeouts in 28 games played. Wednesday saw Lind drop from the clean up position down to the 8th spot in the lineup where he responded by going 2/4 with a HR. Perhaps the move will help get Lind started at the dish but if he can’t start putting it together, a move will need to be made.
Another option, albeit outside the box, would be to give Vladimir Guerrero a shot at 1st Base.
A coach once told me how to play First Base, ” Hit the (****ing) ball”. Although it is harder than simply hitting, 1st Base is a power position in which you need to have production out of your fielder. Production that Lind has struggled with in 2012.
Guerrero has never played a game (during his MLB career) at 1st Base. Defensively, he would be a liability as his range on ground balls and stretch ability could be in question. That being said, Toronto needs more production (offensively) out of the 1st Base position and if Guerrero can prove that he is capable of fielding with some consistency, his offense could prove to counter balance the lack of defense he would bring to the team.
Bautista belongs in Right Field. In time, a position change to 1st base could be in order but for the time being the 2 time Hank Aaron award winner is far to valuable to the team (defensively) in RF. Bautista’s Arm saves Runs, case closed.
All of this said, don’t count Adam Lind out just yet. If Wednesday’s game is any indication as to what Lind can do hitting outside of the Cleanup spot, he has a chance to significantly break out of the slump that has marred the former Silver Slugger during the begging stages of the season.
Fun With Numbers:
449 – Number of Home Runs.
1496 – Number of Career RBI.
.359 – Career Batting Average at Skydome.
.452 – Career On Base Percentage (with 2 outs).
.322 – Career Batting Average vs Left Handed Pitching.
553 – Number of MLB Games played North of the Border (Canada).