Fantasy Baseball: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Is Worth Picking Up Right Now
The 2018 season is barely two months old, but there is a trend one-quarter of the way into the season that is apparent even at this early stage. This is the year of the youngsters.
A few weeks ago, the Atlanta Braves called up Ronald Acuna at just 20 years old, and he has responded by hitting .253/.321/.442 with a .330 wOBA, 4 homers, 11 RBIs, 16 runs scored and a wRC+ of 108. Over the weekend, the Washington Nationals called up Juan Soto, a 19-year-old outfielder who started the season in low-A ball, was jumped to high-A after 16 games, went to Double-A after another 15 games, and was promoted to the big leagues after just 8 games there.
On Monday night, in his second professional at-bat, he did this.
1st @MLB start âœ…
1st at-bat âœ…
1st hit âœ…
1st HR âœ…
Welcome to The Show, Juan Soto! The #Nats No. 2 prospect (No. 15 overall) goes deep for a 3-run ðŸ’£ measured at 422 feet ðŸ‘€ to give the @Nationals the lead. Top 100 Prospects: https://t.co/TuTZgd5PTS pic.twitter.com/Dlu9zOC1xq
â€” MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 21, 2018
But the player everyone has been waiting for -- the player who figures to have the greatest impact for his team when the call-up happens -- is Toronto Blue Jays' super-stud Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and you're going to want to be in on the ground floor before he arrives.
Guerrero, 19, is the son of Hall-of-Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr., and yet is far too advanced for the pitching he's seeing in Double-A.
We're gonna go out on a limb and say Vlad Guerrero Jr. can just skip AAA...4-for-4 with a walk-off homer for the @FisherCats #SHEESH #MiLB #BlueJays pic.twitter.com/O5iAswYdNU
â€” Stadium (@WatchStadium) May 20, 2018
Guerrero went 4-for-4 in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Sunday, and he followed that up with a 3-for-5 outing in the nightcap, increasing his Double-A numbers to .421/.472/.697 in 39 games (179 plate appearances) with 8 home runs, 45 RBIs, 35 runs scored and a 1.173 OPS. His wOBA of .499 and wRC+ of 216 utterly ridiculous, especially for a teenager playing in Double-A. By comparison, Mookie Betts has the best wOBA and wRC+ in the Majors right now, at .492 and 214, respectively.
He also hit what has been, to this point, the most dramatic home run thus far in 2018. In a preseason game in Montreal against the St. Louis Cardinals, in front of many of the same fans who once cheered for his father, a long-time star of the Expos, Guerrero hit a walk-off blast that was goosebump-inducing.
Perhaps the most ridiculous number concerning Guerrero this year is 8.4%. That's his strikeout-rate at Double-A, an insane number for someone who turned 19 just two months ago.
It seems pretty clear Guerrero Jr. is ready for a promotion to Triple-A, at a minimum, but should the Jays decide to leap him straight into the Majors, as the Nationals did with Soto, where would he play?
He's played third base in the minors, but that position is currently manned by Josh Donaldson at the big-league level. Donaldson has dealt with injuries this year and has played in just 29 games (129 plate appearances), hitting .214/.310/.411 with 5 dingers, 16 RBIs, 19 runs and a wOBA of .312. An impending free agent this offseason, Toronto may look to deal Donaldson at the trade deadline this July, which would open up a hole at third for Vlad Jr.
Of course, the American League has the designated hitter, a spot which is currently occupied in Toronto by Kendrys Morales, who has also struggled. In 117 plate appearances, Morales is batting .163/.248/.279 with just 3 bombs and 11 RBIs. He's eminently replaceable, especially by a stud 19-year-old who is crushing fools in the minors.
Like Acuna and Gleyber Torres before him, Vlad Jr. looks like he can step into The Show and make an offensive impact right away. That will give him fantasy value as soon as the Jays make the call, especially as a guy who is eligible at third base.
As the Soto call-up should remind us, Guerrero could be in the big leagues at any moment, and he's well worth stashing on the bench until he's up. He is still available in 75% of ESPN leagues, but he is less available in Yahoo! leagues, on the wire in just 59%.
If he's on the waiver wire as a free agent in your league, add him immediately. If he isn't, see what it would take to trade for him, because Toronto may call him up soon. And when they do, you will have a potential immediate superstar on your hands.