Betting on the unknown becomes less risky knowing there's protection in a deep and potentially productive lineup. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has yet to log more than 350 plate appearances in any of his three major league seasons. Last year not being his fault due to the truncated schedule, it needs to be factored in when targeting the upside he represents.

During 2020, Gurriel Jr. hit .308/.348/.534 with 28 runs, 11 home runs, 33 RBI and stole three bases over 224 plate appearances in 57 contests. He produced a 6.3 walk percentage with a 21.4 strikeout rate, .226 isolated power (ISO) and .372 weighted on-base average (wOBA). His discipline metrics stabilized with a 12.5 swinging strike percentage, 75.6 contact and 83.9 Z-Contact (in the strike zone) rates along with a 35.8 O-Swing (outside the strike zone) percent.

According to Statcast, he generated 162 batted ball events last year with 19 barrels (11.7 percent), an average exit velocity of 90.8 MPH and a 49.4 hard hit rate which ranked in the 91st percentile among his peers. Although he outperformed his expected statistics, they need to be accounted for. Gurriel Jr. finished with a .280 expected batting average, .483 expected slugging and .345 xwOBA (27 points below his actual). So like every season, some regression may be pending.

Viewing his approach on Statcast, Gurriel Jr. kept his zone swing percentage stable while increasing contact in the zone by 4.1 percentage points. He also upped his chase contact by almost seven percent but offsets it with production illustrated by his swing and take profile:






Maintaining a stable swing rate, he also reduced his whiff percentage by 6.3 percent. He also experienced a spike in line drive percentage last year up to 36.4 percent. His three year line drive percentage of 28.4 points to migration to the mean, but not a collapse which insulates his batting average going forward.

As for his power, Gurriel Jr. hit 11 home runs graded by Statcast with four qualifying as no-doubters (out of any MLB park). Adding in 2019, he's launched 15 no-doubters of his 31 home runs for a 48.4 no-doubt percentage. Not too shabby.

Expanding his sample size a bit, here's his results from the second half of 2019 through last year but he missed time due to a strained quad then his season ended early due to his appendix being removed:

-    Gurriel Jr. 2H 2019-through-2020: 88 games, 353 plate appearances, 44 runs, 15 home runs, 46 RBI, six stolen bases; .281/.324/.486, 5.4 BB%, 22.7 K%, .205 ISO, .342 wOBA

No need for a last three years capsule when it's his career total so far:

-    Gurriel Jr. last three years: 206 games, 830 plate appearances, 110 runs, 42 home runs, 118 RBI, 10 stolen bases; .287/.327/.508, 5.2 BB%, 23.3 K%, .222 ISO, .350 wOBA

After digesting these numbers, here's his projection sets from five sites:




Given his career rates, if he reaches 500 plate appearances he could hit between 21-to-25 home runs. If Gurriel Jr. reaches 600 plate appearances, his range jumps to 25-to-30. Keep tabs on his health and early exit velocities but there's a chance with health for a career year approaching 30 home runs with pocket stolen bases and an average near .280 for the talented Blue Jay.

Statistical Credits:

THE BAT and THE BAT X courtesy of Derek Carty

ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen

ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborsk