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Patience will help Guerrero get going at the plate

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TSN Baseball Insider


Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is off to a slow start offensively (3-for-18, .167 with six strikeouts) as teams have clearly committed to a plan of attack against him.

Pitchers keep pounding the outside corner. They’re throwing the fastball away and then throwing sliders on the same plane and breaking them off the plate, trying to get Guerrero to chase. He has punched a couple hits to right field but hasn’t had much success so far. He has been a bit undisciplined and overaggressive, chasing a few balls out of the zone.

Guerrero has seen only 27.1 per cent of the pitches thrown to him land in the strike zone. The average hitter sees 42.8 per cent of pitches in the zone. Effectively, he’s being treated like an elite slugger. In fact, the lowest zone percentage of any of the 179 qualified hitters so far this season is Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario at 34.9 per cent.

These numbers indicate that Guerrero needs to be patient. He has to force pitchers to throw the ball back over the plate. In order to do that, he has to take the pitches out of the zone and not swing at them. That’s where Guerrero has had a bit of a struggle. He’s swinging at 37.1 per cent of the pitches out of the zone, while the average major leaguer swings at only 29.8 per cent off the plate.

Guerrero is trying a bit too hard to make things happen, rather than taking what he is given. Young hitters get to the major leagues and want to show that they can hit. Sometimes the best way to do that is to take pitches and force the pitcher back in the zone. If they want to walk you, let them walk you. I have no doubt he will figure it out.

Defensively, the young third baseman has been a pleasant surprise. He’s shown improved footwork and range. Last summer, he struggled to make throws on the run – especially when his body was moving away from first base.

Guerrero made a nice play in his debut on a short-hopper that he threw while moving. He made another excellent play where he positioned his feet in anticipation of needing to make a strong throw.........