Vlad Jr. is Proving that Launch Angle isn’t Everything: There is a new home run leader in the show as of Saturday, and his name is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Guerrero received a fastball on the inside part of the plate from Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta in Saturday’s matchup. The infielder turned on the pitch and sent it over the Green Monster in front of 37,673 fans in attendance.
The Blue Jays dominated the afternoon by a 7-2 margin thanks to bombs from Guerrero, Marcus Semien, Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and Reese McGuire. The laser show was in full effect in Boston, but the only storyline that people are discussing is Guerrero being the first player to hit 20 homers.
Guerrero’s Launch Angle
Vlad Jr. is starting to come into his own in the big leagues. The Blue Jay is just 22 years old, but he is the face of the franchise. He can do everything at the plate, which is surprising when you view his advanced analytics.
Guerrero is leading the league in homers, but he is ranked 109th in launch angle at 7.9 degrees. He has improved this metric every season. Following his rookie campaign, Guerrero has a launch angle of 6.7 degrees in 2019.
This number dropped to 4.6 in 2020 before spiking to 7.9 after two and a half months of action. Adam Duvall is leading the league in launch angle at 22.7.
Guerrero’s main competitor for the home run crown, Shohei Ohtani, is launching balls at 16.9 degrees, ranking him 23rd in the league.
Guerrero has less than half the launch angle of Ohtani, but he is leading the league in homers. In 2021, launch angle is a prime stat that analysts love to utilize in their commentary.
Batters are swinging up on the baseball to improve their launch angle, and it has magnified the long ball since this approach started being widely implemented.
Guerrero’s Barrel Percentage
Guerrero is proving that launch angle is not the only necessary analytic for a big-league swing. One of the most important metrics is barrel percentage. The infielder is not leading the league, but he is eighth on the list.
Guerrero’s level swing plane has caused him to barrel more pitches. This analytic is why the ball is leaving the yard consistently for the 22-year-old.
There is no denying that swinging up on the baseball improves its projection off the bat. However, there is more to the game than home runs. When you put the ball in play, good things happen.
By Guerrero just barreling the baseball, it’s leaving the yard because of his strength and power. Every hitter has a different approach, but Guerrero’s is looking nearly flawless in 2021.
Guerrero’s 2021 Numbers
Guerrero is proving that launch angle is not everything in 2021. There is still room in the game for players with flatter swing paths.
The franchise player is on the verge of winning his first MVP Award. He will have to battle it out with Ohtani down the stretch, but it appears that Guerrero is the frontrunner.
The infielder is slashing .338/.447/.676 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI. Guerrero has put the Blue Jays back in the conversation in the American League without a high launch angle. This shows that any hitting style can be successful in the show.
Tanner Kern is a writer for Knup Sports and the Sports 2.0 Network. He is the host of Between the Lines, the official show of Baseball Spotlight, and the main contributor for the website. Connect with Tanner on IG @tannerkern and Twitter @tannerkern_.