Blue Jays: Don’t worry about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the HR derby

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 11: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays takes batting practice before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 11, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 11: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays takes batting practice before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 11, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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There are some folks around baseball who worry about the way the Home Run Derby can affect a player’s swing. Don’t worry about that with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., just enjoy the show.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was announced as one of the participants in this year’s Home Run Derby, which is exciting news for Blue Jays‘ fans who now have an extra reason to tune in around All-Star weekend.

While most fans are excited about watching the young phenom in the prestigious event, there are some folks who worry about the potential carry over after the event is over, and if it will have an adverse effect on a power hitter’s swing. To be fair, we’ve watched a few hitters struggle after the All-Star break and blame it on the HR derby, but is that really something we should worry about with young Vlad?

I’ve always found the argument to be a little ridiculous, and here’s the number one reason: many players try to put on a homer show nearly every day during batting practice.

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Granted, the derby is a more extended version of that process, and I’ll concede that habits can form quickly when you repeat the same motion. However, we’re talking about the greatest hitters on earth here, and players who have honed their craft for most of their lives. Muscle memory doesn’t go away from participating in one contest.

More importantly, we have to remember that the season is extremely long and that most players go through ups and downs throughout the course of 162 games. It’s entirely possible that someone who participates in the HR Derby will struggle for a while after the All-Star break, but couldn’t we just as easily blame that on the lack of rest and extra travel that they went through compared to most of the league? Call me crazy, but I’m willing to bet that taking the All-Star break off at home with your family and off your feet would give you a bit of an advantage over a player who made a couple of extra flights, played an extra game, and maybe had a little too much fun with his fellow All-Stars.

For what it’s worth though, “home run derby ruined swing” produces 1.29 million results on the ol’ Google machine, so there are definitely a lot of folks who subscribe to the theory. And to be fair, there is a risk of injury that comes with participating, especially in the age of muscle injuries on more violent swings.

If you feel like going down a rabbit hole with this, check out this article from Fangraphs from back in 2012 that deals with this very topic. There are several good points to consider, but to me, the one that stuck out was the idea of “regression”. If we’re talking about the best hitters around the game in the first-half not being able to meet the same standard they set for themselves, it shouldn’t be surprising that’s often the case. It’s hard to sustain production over a month, let alone 162 games.

Getting back to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., my whole point is that there shouldn’t be any Blue Jays’ fans worried about his participating. Even if he does slump after the break for a while and it gives a bit more validity to the argument, will it really matter in the grand scheme of things? He’s only 20 years old, and he’s just at the beginning of what could be a storied career. If participating in one home run derby is going to ruin that, then we may as well cover him in bubble wrap or something.

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If you’re a loyal fan still following this team as they struggle near the bottom of the entire league, then you’ll probably agree that watching Guerrero Jr. in the HR derby will be a much-needed highlight for this season. Don’t worry about it, just enjoy the show.

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