Health, Dome struggles marked Guerrero Jr.'s month of May
TORONTO — The baseline expectations for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are so sky-high that anything but MVP-type numbers at all times will always be a disappointment for some.
Unfair as it is in this sport, he has his talent level to thank.
Heading into June, there’s no arguing that Guerrero’s overall numbers, especially in the power department, leave a lot to be desired.
But May was simply not his month.
It was a grind for the 24-year-old, who battled knee and wrist ailments, but never came close to an IL stint.
There was a right knee MRI in the middle of the month that revealed no structural damage, but quietly there was also an MRI and additional testing done on his troublesome left wrist.
Not one to make excuses, Guerrero downplays the notion his struggles are because of the injuries, but he admitted it’s been a physical battle for him recently.
“It hasn’t been easy,” said Guerrero Jr., who can usually be found post-game with a bag of ice wrapped to his left wrist. “But, I mean, this is the sport that I love and you’re never going to be 100 per cent. I’m not going to take myself out of the lineup. I’m going to grind.”
The May numbers reveal a hitter doing just that — grinding through things at less than 100 per cent, and a .260/.296/.420 slash line with just three homers and a very uncharacteristic 5:25 walk-to-K ratio helped contribute to the club’s down month in the standings as a team.
There are already signs Guerrero Jr. is feeling better.
His swing decisions have been much better since the calendar flipped to June, and he’s got a homer, a double and three walks in four games to show for it.
“Everyone goes through the physical battles over the course of a year and if ever he wasn’t available to play or perform at the level we thought he could he wouldn’t have been in there,” manager John Schneider said. “Yeah, nicked up, like everybody, but he’s going to continue to battle through it.
“Sometimes, you can lose your mechanics a little bit and when that happens the pitch selection gets a little bit loose, if you will. I think that he was losing his barrel a little bit and when you do that you feel like you have to rush or cheat to certain pitches and I think that’s what he’s going through.”
As the Jays return home, it’s pretty amazing that Guerrero is still seeking his first home run at Rogers Centre this season through the first 25 games and he’s batting just .242 in Toronto.
On the surface, it’s a bit of a statistical anomaly, but digging deeper shows Vladdy hasn’t exactly been loving the Dome confines during his career.
His home and road splits are pretty even as enters the middle portion of his fifth MLB campaign, but the pandemic has those numbers skewed a bit and a sub-.800 OPS with just 34 home runs — about a 25 homer or so pace — in Toronto is a bit surprising.
Here’s a closer look at the numbers:
- Career on the road (285 games): .288/.364/.486 (.850 OPS) with 53 HR
- Career at home overall (276 games): .280/.351/.516 (.867 OPS) with 60 HR
- TD Ballpark (21 games): .410/.521/.897 (1.418 OPS) with 11 HR
- Sahlen Field (49 games): .322/.398/.656 (1.054 OPS) with 15 HR
- Rogers Centre (201 games): .263/.327/.455 (.782 OPS) with 34 HR
It’s no secret to Guerrero that he hasn’t hit a bomb in front of the home fans yet.
“I’m very aware of that, but it’s not like I’m not trying to do great things here at home,” he said with a smile, not really able to come up with an explanation as to why. “Every day I come here and work very hard trying to get things right, but that’s part of it and I know eventually I’m going to start hitting some homers here.
“I don’t press at all. This is home. I’ve hit some balls hard here — 107, 108 mph — and they just didn’t go out. God decides when that’s going to happen and I’m going to continue working hard.”
There’s probably a correction coming at some point over the next few weeks, and that’s going to help the Jays in the win column, as well, when it finally does happen.
“You chalk it up to kind of a really small sample size,” Schneider noted. “I’m sure he wants to hit a home run here and I’m sure the fans want him to hit a home run here and those are going to come. And when they come, they’re probably going to come in bunches when they do.”