After failing to find a big-league job Vladimir Guerrero agreed to a minor-league contract with Toronto yesterday, but the Blue Jays’ plans for the 37-year-old former MVP are unclear.
In fact, general manager Alex Anthopoulos basically told reporters that Guerrero isn’t even in their plans:
This isn’t someone right now that we’re prepared to say is going to be up in Toronto. I have no idea how he’s going to perform. There’s no point in even spending time on that because I don’t even know what we have. I have no idea how Vlad looks. I have no idea what kind of shape he’s in, other than from what I’ve heard.
It’s as if he’s starting spring training. It’s a minor-league contract with no risk and no downside. At a minimum it provides depth. Certainly there’s the upside that he could play very well and be a factor for us.
In other words, Adam Lind can wait a little while longer before looking over his shoulder for Guerrero, who signed a non-guaranteed contract worth a prorated share of $1.3 million if/when he reaches the majors.
At first glance his .290 batting average last season suggests Guerrero remains a productive hitter, but he managed just 13 homers and 17 walks in 145 games for career-lows in on-base percentage (.317), slugging percentage (.416), and OPS (.733). He also can’t play the outfield regularly at this point and hasn’t faced big-league pitching since last September, so Anthopoulos is right to downplay Guerrero’s likely impact.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.