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Guerrero Jr. served plateful of humble pie in majors

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TSN Baseball Insider


Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s call-up to the major leagues late last month was almost as anticipated as the final season of Game of Thrones. We couldn’t wait to see him and we expected him to be great every day.

However, his call-up hasn’t exactly gone according to script. In fact, it has been downright awful. Ironically, the 20-year-old has played pretty good defence, while struggling at the plate.

Baseball has a way of humbling the best of us. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is being served a plateful of humble pie.

This is a game with a high failure rate – it’s inherent in baseball. Even when you are good, you fail seven out of 10 times at the plate. How a player deals with that failure is critical to his overall success.

A player has to learn from a failed at-bat, while not obsessing and being consumed by it. If he allows the emotions of one bad at-bat to connect to the next at-bat, then he is doomed to fail again. Even the best of hitters is guilty of doing this on occasion.

More often than not, when a player struggles it is less about a swing problem than it is a thinking problem. Bad thinking can cause bad decisions which may look like bad swings. But the swing is a symptom of the problem.

When a hitter is struggling there are a number of things a manager and the hitting coach can do to get him going. At first, the norm is to let the hitter just grind through the struggle, while taking extra batting practice and watching more video.

If that doesn’t work, then moving a player’s spot in the lineup is an option. Sometimes putting a struggling hitter in front of a hot hitter can lead to the slumping player getting better pitches to hit.

Sometimes a manager might put on a hit-and-run with an underachieving hitter at the plate. The batter just needs to put the ball in play as the runner moves. It simplifies the thinking and approach for the hitter. Often, he drives the ball in this aggressive state and it can get him back on track.

If that doesn’t work, then giving a player a day or two off can help. No batting practice. No game. Just relax and flush out the bad thinking. Sometimes the manager may hold the player out until he sees a favourable pitching matchup.

And if that doesn’t work, then the manager may go back to just letting the player grind through the........