Home Baseball Vlad Jr. Makes Historical past With Derby Win, however He’s Coming Up Quick Elsewhere

Vlad Jr. Makes Historical past With Derby Win, however He’s Coming Up Quick Elsewhere

Vlad Jr. Makes Historical past With Derby Win, however He’s Coming Up Quick Elsewhere


Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports activities

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. wasn’t precisely the forgotten man on the 2023 Dwelling Run Derby at T-Cellular Park; this scribe was hardly alone in predicting he’d win. However the 24-year-old slugger didn’t put up an astronomical complete of dingers the way in which hometown favourite Julio Rodríguez did within the first spherical (breaking Guerrero’s personal 2019 report of 40 homers, at that). Nor did he cruise into the finals by a lopsided rating the way in which Randy Arozarena did in knocking off the top-seeded Luis Robert Jr. within the semifinals. Guerrero did begin his evening by steamrolling Mookie Betts, then narrowly eked out wins over each Rodríguez and Arozarena to take house the championship that eluded him in 2019, when he was runner-up to Pete Alonso. In victory, he joined his father, who received in 2007, as the primary father-son duo to win the Derby. Congrats to Vlad and Dad.

With Blue Jays supervisor John Schneider serving as his pitcher, Guerrero — certainly one of simply three contestants who had participated in a earlier Derby, together with Alonso and Rodríguez — wanted till his fifth swing to get on the board, however as soon as he did, with a 453-footer, he discovered his groove. He beat Betts handily, 26–11, then walked off in opposition to Rodríguez, needing only one homer in bonus time to win, 21–20. He hit 25 within the finals, a report for the shorter spherical (two minutes as an alternative of three), then needed to wait out Arozarena, who completed regulation with 20. Crucially, Arozarena solely had the usual 30 seconds of additional time as a result of he hadn’t gotten the space bonus, unlocked when a participant hit two homers with projected distances of a minimum of 440 toes — one thing Guerrero managed in all three rounds. Arozarena ran out of each gasoline and time as his closing fly balls fell quick; he completed with 23 homers to make Guerrero the champion, the second-youngest in historical past by a day (1993 winner Juan Gonzalez was youthful).

Guerrero will function a reserve for Tuesday evening’s All-Star Recreation after beginning at first base in every of the previous two seasons. Yandy Díaz was voted to begin for the AL, and it’s robust to complain when he’s hitting .323/.408/.515 for a 165 wRC+, the very best of any first baseman in both league by 10 factors (NL starter Freddie Freeman is second at 155) and the second-highest of any certified hitter behind solely Shohei Ohtani.

Diaz’s 165 wRC+ is paying homage to the league-leading 166 Guerrero put up throughout his 2021 season. We’re now two years faraway from that breakout marketing campaign, when at age 22, Vladito made a run on the Triple Crown, falling quick however nonetheless hitting a powerful .311/.401/.601 with 48 homers and 6.3 WAR. His house run complete led the league, as did his on-base proportion, a small comfort for ending “solely” third in batting common; likewise, he led in complete bases and slugging proportion and was second in WAR, a fairly good offset for ending “solely” fifth in RBIs.

Whenever you’re 22 years outdated and the son of a Corridor of Famer, a season like that sends expectations into the stratosphere, so it’s come as one thing of a disappointment that Guerrero’s follow-up seasons haven’t been as much as that normal. He hit .274/.339/.480 with 32 homers, a 132 wRC+, and a couple of.8 WAR final yr, and arrived on the All-Star break batting .274/.344/.443 with 13 homers, a 120 wRC+, and (gulp) 0.4 WAR this yr. An excellent — or not-so-good, really — a part of that decline in worth is Guerrero’s protection, which has gone downhill shortly. I’ll get to that beneath, however what everyone seems to be questioning is what’s occurred to his offense. In his numbers, just a few issues stand out.

For one, regardless of the early-season indications on the contrary, Guerrero has gotten much less selective. In 2021, he chased simply 28.3% of pitches outdoors the zone, however in every of the previous two seasons, he’s as much as 34.2%. As you’ll be able to see from these warmth maps, final yr it was particularly a matter of chasing excessive, and this yr, he’s chasing excessive and low as nicely:

Guerrero doesn’t strike out a lot for an influence hitter; in reality, his 15.6% charge is 0.2 factors decrease than in 2021 and 0.8 factors decrease than final yr. The issue is that his outcomes when chasing pitches outdoors haven’t been pretty much as good as they as soon as have been. Right here’s a have a look at his outcomes when chasing excessive pitches, these in Gameday zones 11 and 12:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in Gameday Zones 11 & 12

Season PA AVG xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA EV LA Whiff% SwStr%
2021 76 .273 .229 .341 .331 .447 .434 84.5 12.2 27.4% 6.2%
2022 59 .200 .231 .425 .384 .404 .404 82.9 2.8 21.2% 6.3%
2023 42 .179 .209 .321 .384 .377 .404 88.2 23.7 35.1% 9.5%

SOURCE: Baseball Savant

The decline hasn’t been uniform, however his AVG and SLG are decrease than in 2021, although his exit velo and xSLG are literally larger. He’s swinging and lacking much more typically when he chases excessive, with each his whiff and swinging-strike charges in these areas a lot larger than in 2021. Together with the pitches he’s chasing in zones 13 and 14, outdoors and beneath the strike zone, his .130 batting common and .190 slugging proportion are down from 2021’s .171/.240 and final yr’s .148/.230.

Whereas Guerrero is swinging and lacking extra at pitches outdoors the zone, he’s offset that considerably by making extra contact within the zone; this yr’s 86.4% charge is down 1.4 factors from final yr however up 2.4 factors relative to 2021. He’s hitting the ball extremely laborious but in addition on the bottom extra typically than in 2021:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Batted Ball Profile

Season BBE GB/FB GB% FB% EV Greatest Velocity Barrel% HardHit%
2021 496 1.23 44.8% 36.5% 95.1 106.8 15.1% 55.2%
2022 526 1.70 52.1% 30.6% 92.8 105.5 11.2% 50.4%
2023 286 1.44 47.2% 32.9% 94.3 105.2 13.6% 56.3%

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/3JSYhJL

Greatest Velocity = common exit velocity of the highest 50% of a participant’s batted ball occasions. See Baseball Savant hyperlink beneath (shortened) and https://twitter.com/tangotiger/standing/1666123089179029509 for extra element.

Guerrero is scalding the ball, rating sixth within the majors in common exit velocity and seventh in hard-hit charge and touchdown within the 88th percentile in barrel charge. He’s much more spectacular when it comes to Greatest Velocity (the typical exit velo of his prime 50% of batted ball occasions, a extra helpful measure than the easier-to-find common EV as a result of it filters out the noise), rating third within the majors, and but he’s even beneath each 2021 and ’22 in that metric.

For as laborious as Guerrero is hitting the ball, he’s simply not getting the outcomes that ought to accompany it:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Statcast Anticipated Profile

Season BBE AVG xBA Dif SLG xSLG Dif wOBA xwOBA Dif
2021 496 .311 .307 .004 .601 .590 .011 .419 .417 .002
2022 526 .274 .276 -.002 .480 .459 .021 .351 .347 .004
2023 286 .274 .307 -.033 .443 .547 -.104 .342 .396 -.054

Guerrero’s xBA is similar because it was two years in the past, solely this time he’s 33 factors quick as an alternative of 4 factors over. His SLG is 37 factors beneath final yr, however his xSLG is 88 factors larger, and that sample carries over to his wOBA (9 factors beneath final yr) and xwOBA (49 factors larger). His SLG-xSLG differential is the majors’ second-largest, and his wOBA-xwOBA differential is the fourth-largest. Right here’s the rating by the previous class:

Statcast Slugging Differential Trailers

Participant Staff BIP SLG xSLG Diff wOBA xwOBA Diff
Ryan Mountcastle BAL 184 .424 .531 -.107 .294 .353 -.059
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 286 .443 .545 -.102 .342 .395 -.053
Michael Massey KCR 141 .320 .421 -.101 .265 .319 -.054
Keibert Ruiz WSN 256 .360 .456 -.096 .281 .340 -.059
Aaron Choose NYY 115 .674 .761 -.087 .440 .476 -.036
Starling Marte NYM 240 .336 .418 -.082 .287 .324 -.037
Eugenio Suárez SEA 223 .377 .458 -.081 .310 .349 -.039
Dansby Swanson ATL 241 .409 .488 -.079 .332 .363 -.031
Joc Pederson SFG 124 .438 .516 -.078 .350 .388 -.038
Jean Segura MIA 209 .264 .337 -.073 .249 .288 -.039

SOURCE: Baseball Savant

I highlighted the three different gamers with wOBA-xwOBA differentials as low or decrease than Guerrero’s; you’ll be able to see their rankings by sorting the desk. Past them, the remainder didn’t make the minimize; see right here as an alternative.

Digging a bit deeper, it’s Guerrero’s outcomes on fly balls which might be significantly out of whack:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Statcast Anticipated Profile — Fly Balls

Season BBE AVG xBA Dif SLG xSLG Dif wOBA xwOBA Dif EV LA Dist
2021 125 .323 .364 -.041 1.194 1.281 -.087 .606 .662 -.056 96.7 36.3 330
2022 90 .314 .323 -.009 1.047 1.032 .015 .542 .546 -.004 95.0 34.9 328
2023 65 .203 .340 -.137 .656 1.183 -.527 .345 .617 -.272 96.2 37.7 323

Although his fly balls are being hit as laborious, they’re at a steeper angle than earlier than, however even the shorter carry isn’t sufficient to clarify his shortfalls of 527 factors of slugging proportion and 272 factors of wOBA. Because it seems, these are the biggest shortfalls on fly balls of any participant in all the Statcast period, from 2015 onward! He’s received a 77-point “lead” in slugging differential:

Statcast Slugging Differential on Fly Balls Trailers

Participant Staff Season BBE SLG xSLG Dif wOBA xwOBA Dif
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. TOR 2023 65 .656 1.183 -.527 .345 .617 -.272
Nelson Cruz WSN 2022 64 .667 1.117 -.450 .365 .603 -.238
Matt Carpenter STL 2021 57 .464 .885 -.421 .257 .467 -.210
Miguel Cabrera DET 2016 113 1.073 1.493 -.420 .554 .763 -.209
Dansby Swanson CHC 2023 60 .767 1.184 -.417 .406 .626 -.220
Ronald Acuña Jr. ATL 2023 71 1.114 1.518 -.404 .572 .791 -.219
Trent Grisham SDP 2023 55 .636 .994 -.358 .332 .521 -.189
Miguel Cabrera DET 2017 85 .542 .900 -.358 .284 .471 -.187
Miguel Cabrera DET 2015 87 .895 1.245 -.350 .488 .657 -.169
Seth Smith SEA 2016 56 .907 1.247 -.340 .456 .622 -.166

SOURCE: Baseball Savant

As an apart, how scary is it that for as nice as Acuña’s season is, he’s right here as nicely? So are Swanson and Grisham from this season, and if I’d expanded the desk, Guerrero’s teammate Matt Chapman could be proven at sixteenth, with a -319-point hole (.851 SLG, 1.170 xSLG). Guerrero moreover has a 34-point “lead” over Cruz in wOBA differential, with Swanson third and Acuña fourth, and everyone else by means of eighth current within the desk above.

Through the Statcast broadcast of the Derby on ESPN2 (that includes Jessica Mendoza and FanGraphs alum Mike Petriello), somebody famous that Guerrero didn’t hit his first homer on the Rogers Centre this yr till June 23 and has hit simply three of his 13 homers there, all coming inside a seven-day span. Digging into the info, his slugging differentials for house and away are related in scale, however the underlying numbers are approach aside:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Statcast Anticipated Profile — Fly Balls, Dwelling/Highway

Dwelling BBE AVG xBA Dif SLG xSLG Dif wOBA xwOBA Dif EV LA Dist
2021 63 .397 .445 -.048 1.444 1.531 -.087 .742 .799 -.057 98.4 34.5 337
2022 42 .375 .308 .067 1.325 .997 .328 .673 .519 .154 95.4 34.7 330
2023 32 .156 .279 -.123 .406 .927 -.521 .232 .495 -.263 95.1 37.4 315
2021 62 .246 .284 -.038 .934 1.030 -.096 .467 .527 -.060 95.0 38 322
2022 48 .261 .336 -.075 .804 1.062 -.258 .427 .570 -.143 94.6 35.1 327
2023 33 .250 .400 -.150 .906 1.440 -.534 .455 .736 -.281 97.3 38.1 330

SOURCE: Baseball Savant

What’s going on with that trade charge? Guerrero is falling over 500 factors quick within the slugging division on each splits, however the place he’s slugging solely .406 on his Canadian fly balls, he’s at .906 on his American ones. Even on condition that he’s not hitting his fly balls as laborious at house as on the highway, producing a 15-foot distinction in distance, that also doesn’t account for a way lopsided his break up is.

The difficulty could also be his Guerrero’s pull-rate splits. This yr he’s pulling 36.1% of his batted balls at house and 43.3% on the highway, in comparison with 43.6% at house and 35.6% on the highway final yr and 39.7% at house and 40.2% on the highway in 2021. Observe that these are Sports activities Data Answer classifications; Statcast’s pull percentages differ, typically with larger heart charges, which makes the single-season pull samples sufficiently small that I don’t assume they imply a lot once we begin precise and anticipated numbers. For illustrative functions, I’ll observe that through Baseball Savant, Guerrero has slugged .667 on six pulled flies at house, in comparison with a 1.439 xSLG; on 15 such balls final yr and 18 the yr earlier than, he slugged over 2.000, so it’s honest to say that he does appear to be shedding out not pulling the ball as persistently at house.

Whereas the Rogers Centre did bear renovations this previous offseason, to my information all of these pertained to the fan expertise, not the sphere of play. The fence distances and heights stayed the identical. Replace: Opposite to the assertion I simply crossed out, the Blue Jays did modify the fence distances and heights, although they made the announcement at a unique time than that of the ballpark’s inside. Rating that E-6 on my half [looks at webbing of glove, shakes head sheepishly]. Right here’s what the modifications appear like:

Rogers Centre Adjustments for 2023

Measurement Previous Peak New Peak Previous Distance New Distance
Left Discipline Line 10 14.33 328 328
Left Middle 10 11.17 375 368
Left Middle Energy Alley 10 12.75 383 381
Middle Discipline 10 8.00 400 400
Proper Middle Energy Alley 10 10.75 383 372
Proper Middle 10 14.33 375 359
Proper Discipline Line 10 12.58 328 328

To each side, the Blue Jays have shortened distances whereas elevating fence heights, although it’s not symmetrical. The distances modifications are much less excessive on the left facet, Guerrero’s pull facet, and likewise with the peak modifications, however these could also be canceled out by his much less pull-happiness this yr. Briefly, I’m undecided this is sufficient to clarify what’s happening with Guerrero’s fly balls at house, significantly on condition that the nearer fences have been extra more likely to improve offense. However when coupled with the stadium’s capability being decreased by about 7%, all the way down to 41,500, it’s attainable the renovations had an influence on air circulate as nicely. It does appear value noting that the typical distance of hard-hit fly balls (95 mph or larger) has decreased from 363 toes to 357, that whereas the MLB-wide common has elevated by one foot, from 365 to 366. In the meantime, the Blue Jays’ total SLG-xSLG differential of -.015 (.415 SLG, .430 xSLG) is tied for the sixth-lowest within the majors, however the venue’s -.028 hole on fly balls (.836 SLG, .861 xSLG) is in the course of the pack, rating because the Thirteenth-lowest of the 30 ballparks.

For no matter motive, Guerrero isn’t hitting the ball as laborious at house, and he’s getting the shaft at an historic degree on his fly balls each house and away, which can or could not have one thing to do with the modifications. Aside from the pull splits, I can’t determine any particular points as to why that might be, however Nonetheless, I do assume it’s honest to determine that some optimistic regression might be in retailer.

As famous, one different factor that stands out about Guerrero is his defensive decline. Recall that in 2021, he moved from third base to change into a full-timer at first base, the place he was a really nice shock. Now, he’s immediately change into DH-caliber:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Defensive Metrics

Season Inn DRS UZR RAA OAA In Lat 3B Lat 1B Again
2021 1143.2 2 1.8 -3 -4 0 0 -1 -2
2022 1119.0 3 -3.7 -3 -4 -1 -3 1 0
2023 603.2 -5 -0.7 -8 -10 -4 -5 0 -1

SOURCE: Baseball Savant

First base solely.

Yikes. To the suitable of the divider, I’ve damaged out Guererro’s Outs Above Common splits, and as you’ll be able to see, he’s been particularly poor; he’s the majors’ worst first baseman at coming in and at transferring to his proper, towards third base. Whether or not he’s missing in focus, carrying his offensive shortcomings (reminiscent of they’re) into the sphere, or missing in mobility relative to 2 years in the past, he has to wash that up. Over the course of a full season, the distinction between good Vlad and dangerous Vlad within the area quantities to greater than a win, and for a group that’s within the thick of the AL Wild Card race — at 50–41, the Jays are tied for the second spot however only a sport forward of the Yankees (49–42) and two video games forward of the Purple Sox (48–43) — each win counts. Nonetheless, I might count on that we’ll see a extra productive Guerrero on the plate within the second half, and whereas some will credit score his Derby win at having jump-started his season, you and I’ll know higher.



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