Why Guerrero's subtle tweaks could change Blue Jays' fortunes on the board

Why Guerrero’s subtle tweaks could change Blue Jays’ fortunes on the board

TORONTO – A less exciting way to bring a run home might be a rule-laden walk, especially one in which the hitter is not inclined to swing at anything the bowler offers.

That’s how the Toronto Blue Jays scored their only game in Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. kept the bat on his shoulder for five consecutive pitches from Marco Gonzalez before running back to first base.

For a team struggling to take big hits, that wasn’t a significant moment.

Under the surface, though, the board’s appearance was of broader significance to both Guerrero, who matched George Springer to lead the team at RBIs at 21, and Blue Jays. Gonzalez bit the area, not only out of caution with last year’s AL MVP runner-up, but it’s also possible that the 23-year-old swings the ball 10 per cent more than last year.

Consider this playground chart from Guerrero’s 16y season march.

Gonzalez is clearly trying to exploit Guerrero’s eagerness to do damage. The Blue Jays, losing 1-0 and trying to take the lead, were desperate to put a crooked number on the board. Guerrero remained disciplined enough not to give up.

“Sometimes at the start of the season I probably didn’t have the same plan that I had last year. Sometimes I tried to do a lot by myself, regardless of whether we were doing well or badly. I took it on,” Guerrero said in an interview translated by Hector Lebrun. my shoulders.”

“Maybe I put a little more pressure on myself, I guess, especially with the scoring center runners. But I really see that, so I try to work on that and now I’m starting to take whatever they give me. I trust my teammates, everyone who hits behind me. And if they let me walk, I walk.”

Amid the constant pressure of handing over the board and piling up all the runs this offense was expected to produce, what the Blue Jays collectively need is the kind of vocal approach that Guerrero showed in that third round.

More than most, Guerrero has been feeling the weight of the team’s scoring problems, regularly moving away from his area in pursuit of additional bases.

This season, his chase rate is 34 percent, compared to 24.5 percent a year ago. He also hits those pitches more often, at 60 per cent versus 47.3 per cent in 2021, so he swings in the worst pitches and hits them a lot, which isn’t what you want.

Despite this, Guerrero still does some of the best friction in baseball, with an average exit speed of 93.5 mph in the top three percent of the majors, and his worst hit percentage of 54.6 in the top two percent and maximum exit 117.9 percent higher.

The pitcher’s hill and alignment positions remain incredibly intimidating places when he’s on the board.

But because he’s expanded his territory — and because he’s so talented that he can still hit lousy pitches with ridiculous power — his average launch angle has dropped dramatically, from 9.6 degrees a year ago to 4.1 now. That helps in part explain why he’s made 48 appearances in the eleven games since hitting the seventh homeowner on May 5 in Cleveland, without taking an extra base kick amid a 15-game winning streak.

“It’s more about the pitches I’m swinging on,” Guerrero said. “Instead of seeing good ground and hitting it back in the middle, I just try to tighten it, trying to pull it off. That’s basically what it is. I just stayed in the strike zone and across the middle.”

An example of this came in the eighth round on Wednesday against Paul Swald. Dropping 0-2 on the count, Guerrero fired a fast ball at 93.2 mph away into the correct field for a key kick.

He used a similar approach Monday night in a third turn one on the right on the Chris Flexen breaker. Given that Guerrero often points out that he’s at his best when he stays in the middle, basic hits may be taken as key indicators of his health.

“Kind of,” he said, smiling at the suggestion. “The mark is when I hit it in the right field. That’s when you’ll see I’m right.”

The challenge, of course, is maintaining the necessary discipline in the board to force shooters into their happiness zones.

A fierce competitor who is happy to go 0 for 4 in a win from a loss 4 versus 4 in a loss, Guerrero understands the responsibility on his shoulders. The lack of hitting the Blue Jays around him amplified his lower-than-expectations start, though it’s important to note that 99 percent of players want the .284/.368/.470 hitting streak as a peak, while for Guerrero it’s a quiet stretch.

However, he knows he missed the throw and allowed it to affect him in the penalty area.

“She’s trying too much and I think I’m a little worried,” Guerrero explained. “For example, if I get a floor I might look up and hit it incorrectly, sometimes I get really anxious because I really want to hit the ball again the way I should have hit the ball on the previous pitch, which I spoiled. So, it’s a combination. I try to do a little more and feel a little anxious.”

In the sixth inning on Wednesday, he was better in that regard. Check out his reaction here after he missed a 1-1 cut from Gonzalez that could have easily ended up in the seats.

He spat on chasing the change on the next court before ripping the bottom of the change area to third on the next court. It ended up going out, but Guerrero didn’t go out of his way.

This process on the results of things may not be exciting. But for the Blue Jays to withdraw from that cold streak stretching across the board, the transformation would be rooted in such subtle tweaks.

Guerrero is trying his best to make it happen as quickly as possible.

“I think every game I start to improve, especially controlling the strike zone,” he says. “I’ve been working hard with my hitting coaches and I’m feeling better. It’s working.”

2022-05-20 12:40:00

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