What Should Fantasy Owners Make Of Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s Struggles?

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Everyone expected Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the elite prospect in baseball, to arrive in the Majors and produce immediately. Despite his age he has always excelled, so why would this last step be any different? Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case (through Thursday, before he went 0-4 yesterday):

.162 (6-37), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 R, 0 SB

The big surprise has been some strikeout issues, albeit it in a small sample size, with a 26.8% strikeout rate. Overall he’s been avoiding swings and misses, but the bulk of that is due to his ability to make contact against fastballs. Just look at the breakdown (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 2.68%
  • Breaking – 20.41%
  • Offspeed – 31.25%

Thus far he has seen fastballs 63.28% of the time, a number that will surely decrease given the swing and miss against other pitches and poor production overall (he doesn’t have a hit against a changeup or curveball). In time we would fully expect him to adjust, the question is how long it’s going to take for him to get there. Fantasy owners want instant gratification but sometimes you need to have patience to enjoy the ultimate payoff.

Guerrero has proven at every level that he’s an elite hitter and even while he’s struggled he’s posted a 42.3% Hard%. He should reduce the strikeouts, even if it is just a little bit, and begin hitting line drives (11.5%) as opposed to groundballs (73.1%). That doesn’t mean he’s going to be the world beater many expected from Day 1, but he’s going to be very good in time. There’s no questioning that potential, so just stay the course (though that should go without saying).

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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