2019 Bust Alert: Why Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Is A Player To Avoid…

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The Toronto Blue Jays are clearly looking towards a rebuild, and it makes sense for them to give younger players an opportunity step up and prove that they can thrive at the highest level.  Enter Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who got an opportunity in 2018 and ran with it, despite knee and ankle injuries that sent him to the DL on July 31 and then a hamstring injury that prematurely ended his season:

249 At Bats
.281 Batting Average (70 Hits)
11 Home Runs
35 RBI
30 Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.309 On Base Percentage
.446 Slugging Percentage
.326 Batting Average on Balls in Play

It’s easy to get excited about those numbers, especially in terms of the power, though should we be tapping the brakes on the hype a little bit?  Let’s not ignore the obvious facts that sit before us:

While he hit 11 HR in the Majors, he added just 8 doubles and hadn’t shown this type of power in the minors (11 doubles, 1 triple and 7 HR in 206 AB between Double and Triple-A).  It’s hard to envision him replicating the 17.5% HR/FB, though that’s not to say that he isn’t going to produce any power.  The upside is probably more in the 18-21 HR range however.

While the average was solid, there are a few key metrics that indicate he’s likely to come crashing down:

  • SwStr% – 11.9%
  • O-Swing% – 39.3%
  • Hard% – 30.6%

So his approach was poor, and considering his 11.1% SwStr% in the minors it’s hard to envision a significant improvement coming.  Gurriel was extremely prone to offspeed pitches (27.83% Whiff%) and breaking balls (18.27% Whiff%), and there’s a good chance that opposing pitchers are going to continue feeding him a steady diet of both (he only saw 55.34% hard pitches).  He’s not going to draw walks and could see his 22.4% strikeout rate rise, creating a lot of risk (it’s easy to envision a 25% strikeout rate or greater).

Couple that risk with a relatively poor Hard%, meaning he could easily see his BABIP drop, and exactly what is there to hang our hats on?  Would it really be surprising to see him hit closer to .250 than .280?  It shouldn’t be, and when coupled with questionable power and little speed you have to wonder if the actual value is there.

That’s not to say that he shouldn’t be owned, it’s more that he shouldn’t be viewed as a potentially elite option.  While someone in your league may be infatuated with the “potential”, he’s not a starting option at shortstop and is a far better fit as an upside depth option as there’s a very real possibility of him struggling through a sophomore slump.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent article!!

    It’s funny….he was almost completely ignored as a fab bid. However, because he started off with and never dropped strong performance, his name seemed to entitle him to legitimacy. As your article clearly points out, there is risk.

  2. The power numbers are surely great for a MI bat, but if you’re in a OBP league, his lack of on-base skills will hurt you. I believe he’ll carry dual 2B/SS eligibility into 2019, which is always nice to be able to have a guy with that position flexibility. But like Adalberto Mondesi, another terrible OBP guy who is crazy hyped right now, the risk far outweighs the reward for me to reach on draft day.

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