Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s light and dark

In 2021, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. roared. He exploded his offensive power and won 6 batting crowns (home runs, runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, total bases). Guerrero was unlucky to have Shohei Ohtani in the league (#2 in MVP voting).

Guerrero predicted an even bigger roar next season. The result of the MVP vote was the impetus. Guerrero expressed his disappointment at the MVP vote, saying, “I knew Ohtani would win the MVP, but he didn’t expect a unanimous vote.” In response, he vowed to surpass Ohtani. And he had to show more dominance if he was to surpass Ohtani.

Everyone waited and expected Guerrero’s counterattack. But in 2022, Guerrero fell short of the previous season. The victory contribution of’Fan Graph.com’, which was second in the league in 2021, fell sharply from 6.3 to 2.8. This was the same record as Baltimore’s Jorge Mateo, and was lower than Texas’ Nathaniel Rowe (3.0). Even in the MVP vote, which I asked the voters to see, I got further away from Ohtani (12th place in the MVP vote).

2021: .311 batting average, 48 homers, 111 RBIs, 1.002 OPS

2022: .274 batting average, 32 homers, 97 RBIs, .818 OPS

Guerrero was never bad. He still showed decent offensive power. However, he failed to meet his own standards set by his stellar performance the previous season. Guerrero’s rivals should be the best players in the league, but the players who were actually on the same line were one level lower than him. This is the reason why there is regret while applauding Guerrero’s performance.

Last year, the time Guerrero most wanted to change was in May. He played 26 games in May and his monthly batting average was just .217. From May 8–24, he went home runless in 15 consecutive games. During this period, he did not hit even a long hit, and he had a slugging percentage of .200 and an OPS of .523.

Guerrero’s seriousness was revealed on May 24 against St. Louis. In the top of the 7th inning, he had a chance to score 2 out with a ground ball. It was a more futile result because it was right after St. Louis pitcher Andre Palante allowed two consecutive batters to walk. Local reports said that this at-bat “summarizes Guerrero’s current condition.”

This at-bat leads directly to Guerrero’s overall problem. Last year, Guerrero noticed a drop in his slugging power (.601 → .480 slugging percentage in 2021-22). It was because he couldn’t hit the ball. The proportion of fly balls fell from 25.2% in 2021 to 17.1% last year. It was the fourth lowest among regulation hitters (Isaiah Cainer-Faleppa, Ahmed Rosario, and DJ LeMayhew). Conversely, as the proportion of ground balls increased from 45.6% to 52.3%, the nature of the batted ball changed to the one that was not suitable for producing long hits.

After Guerrero’s debut in the major leagues, he was often pointed out that he had to increase the firing angle of the batted ball. A high launch angle isn’t always the answer, but Guerrero has the exit velocity to match a high launch angle. His average exit velocity last year of 92.8 mph was also in the top 4 percent. However, his launch angle was lowered from 9.4 degrees in 2021 to 4.3 degrees last year. This is similar to 2020’s 4.6 degrees, and unfortunately, the 2020 slugging percentage of .462 was not much different from last year’s .480. In other words, as the launch angle was lowered, Guerrero’s slugging power also suffered.

Guerrero’s low launch angle produced a lot of grounders. If Guerrero had been a ‘fast left-handed hitter’, this part might have been offset a bit. However, Guerrero is a ‘slow right-handed hitter’. As a result, the ground balls Guerrero hit led to the most ground ball hits in the major leagues (26). It is a fatal flaw for the center hitter who needs to take advantage of scoring opportunities when there are runners.

Guerrero, who gave up third base and switched to first base, needs to maximize his offensive power. He also stepped away from third base to focus on offense and relieve the burden of defense (Guerrero had a strong attachment to the third baseman). In addition, the area where Guerrero can make a constant in terms of contribution to victory, which has emerged as a league trend, is offense. It is not easy to increase the victory contribution if you do not reach the highest level in attack. This will also work against Guerrero’s future contract negotiations.

There were also positive changes for Guerrero last year. Complementing his first base defense, he won his first Gold Glove of his career. He surprised everyone by making a turn in defense, which was considered a weakness.

Initially, Guerrero was a failing grade even as a first baseman. It was more important for him not to make mistakes on easy defenses than to do well on difficult defenses. However, he did not neglect defensive training. He worked hard and focused on improving his defense. Thanks to this, 카지노 Guerrero, who gained confidence in his defense, announced to his infield defense coach, “I will win a Gold Glove,” ahead of last season. And he really kept that promise.

Defense became Guerrero’s pride. But it’s difficult for Guerrero to be a first baseman who prioritizes defense. Guerrero, whom Toronto hopes for, is also a hitter who focuses on offense. Whether Guerrero can recover his somewhat shaky form also depends on offense, not defense.

Ultimately, the key is adjusting the launch angle. This assignment is likely to shape Guerrero’s career. If he regains his slugging power, plus some solid defense, Guerrero will turn out to be a more complete player. Only then will he be able to compete against the top players again.

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