Vladimir Guerrero Jr
Coming off a 2021 season in which he won the American League Hank Aaron Award with the Blue Jays, expectations were pretty high for Guerrero Jr. entering 2022. While his 134 wRC+ is certainly nothing to scoff at, it’s down from what most people were expecting from him entering the season. His ability to hit the ball hard is still very much intact, with his average exit velocity and his hard-hit percentage both sitting in the 95th percentile of the league. His expected stats are still relatively good as well, with his xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG all sitting in the mid to high 80s. Where his issues lie is that where he’s only relatively good this year, he was elite last year.
This decrease in production seems to stem from two major factors, that being his ISO and his BABIP. ISO uses slugging minus batting average to measure what percentage of a player’s hits are for extra bases. Despite his batting average falling from his 2021 season, his ISO is still way down, going from .290 to .233, which shows that not only has he been struggling to get as many hits, but when he does get them, he’s not getting as many bases. His drop in BABIP has also played a huge factor in his disappointing stats, with his batting average on balls in play dropping from .313, all the way to .250. This is directly reflected in his lowered batting average, and while it may seem concerning at first, a low BABIP can often be a sign that a good hitter is simply getting unlucky with where he’s hitting the ball.
At this point in the season, I see no reason to get too worried about Vladdy’s performance, considering how good of a hitter he’s shown he can be and how young he still is. While I wouldn’t anticipate his full-season numbers to look as good as they did in 2021, in a year where the league-wide offense is down, I would still anticipate Vladdy being one of baseball’s top hitters by season’s end.
That being said, there are certainly some mildly concerning trends in his underlying number’s that he’ll need to fix if he hopes to return to form.