With Spring Training just around the corner, it’s time get ready for fantasy baseball drafts. A number of talented first baseman are expected to be off the board early in drafts, and Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. should be no exception. The 23-year-old sensation has been one of the league’s premier power hitters over the past two seasons. But, should Guerrero Jr. be on the top of the board at the first base position? Let’s break Guerrero Jr. down first.
A Look at Guerrero Jr.
The 2022 season was a strong one for Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who accumulated the fourth-most plate appearances (706) in MLB. The Blue Jays slugger cracked 32 home runs and 67 extra base hits last year, alongside 97 RBIs and a .274 batting average. Guerrero Jr. finished the season with the sixth-highest home run and RBI totals among first basemen, but it was a year that saw a dip in production from his breakout 2021 campaign. That season, Guerrero Jr. hit a league-high 48 home runs and drove in 111 runs for the Jays. Plus, Guerrero hit .311 to just to miss out on the AL batting title.
Over the last two seasons, just two players in baseball have more home runs than Guerrero Jr. (80), and the young slugger tied with Austin Riley, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado for the ninth-most RBIs (208) in that time.
The 23-year-old superstar can drive balls in the air with ease thanks to his pure strength, but Guerrero Jr. does, in fact, top a lot of baseballs. In three of the last four seasons, Guerrero Jr. has posted GB% rates above 50%, a bit of an oddity when discussing a power hitter for obvious reasons. Among all qualified hitters who had a GB% rate of 50.0% or higher, just two — Guerrero Jr. and Randy Arozarena — hit at least 20 home runs in 2022.
Guerrero does love to pounce on balls up in the zone, but he did see an uptick in ground balls from 2021, particularly up in the zone. Guerrero Jr. tapped 32 grounders from pitches up in 2022, up from 23 in 2021.
That figure, along with a jump in aggression at the plate last season, are concerning figures for Guerrero. Nonetheless, the final results were still fine for Guerrero Jr. in 2022. What is, however, promising for Guerrero in 2023 is the new support that is set to arrive in Toronto. Infielder Brandon Belt, in particular, could be a difference maker should he stay healthy. The ex-Giant is among the league’s best in drawing walks and working counts, which could be key should Belt bat in front of Guerrero Jr. this upcoming year.
2023 Fantasy Outlook
Just on raw tools, Guerrero Jr. could easily be the best first baseman come the end of 2023. The Blue Jays infielder is neck-and-neck alongside Pete Alonso, in terms of which first baseman in the league owns the best power tool. Not to mention, Guerrero Jr. also possesses strong bat-to-ball skills that should allow the Blue Jays star to keep a tidy batting average.
However, we do have Guerrero Jr. slotted in as the second-best first baseman heading into 2023. Guerrero Jr. is just behind Paul Goldschmidt, the reigning NL MVP who’s proven to be reliable throughout his career in terms of high batting average, RBIs, and hitting home runs in bunches. But, Guerrero Jr. does have the higher ceiling and could very well surpass “Goldy” for good after this season.