Theoretically speaking, one of the things that was supposed to make Vladimir Guerrero Jr. so special was how he differs from his father.
While Sr. swung at any pitch in his general vicinity, Vladdy came into the league with a reputation for excellent plate discipline. Generally he’s lived up to that, carrying a solid 9.7 percent walk rate and almost exactly league-average 28 percent chase rate into Friday’s action.
His swing heatmap, for instance, shows him to be a guy with a good sense of where the zone is:
That doesn’t mean he’s incapable of emulating his free-swinging father, though.
Facing down soft-tossing Mariners southpaw Wade LeBlanc in the third inning, he uncorked a swing that had everybody thinking of the original Vlad.
“That’s what I said on the bench. ‘That reminded me of his dad,” manager Charlie Montoyo - who played with Vlad Sr. said post-game. “It’s amazing, not many people can do that.”
Guerrero Jr.’s home run was so improbable he was at a loss for how to account for for the result.
“I just swung. I saw the ball and took a swing and hit the ball,” he said through a translator. “To be honest with you I don’t have an explanation for that.”
The shot was his 14th of his young MLB career, and just the third that came on a pitch outside of the strike zone. This is what the previous 13 looked like:
While the 20-year-old probably doesn’t want to make a habit of swinging at pitches like he did Friday, it certainly worked against LeBlanc to the tune of a 102.7 mph bullet. The mammoth homer proved to be yet another demonstration of Guerrero Jr.’s ungodly power.
“I knew when I hit that ball the pitch was down,” he said through a translator. “But when I saw the video I don’t even know how I hit that ball. So I guess I looked like my dad.”
It was a home run almost no one else in the game could’ve hit — even if a certain retired superstar used to do it on the regular.
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