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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Slimmer Vlad a sight to see: ‘I feel quicker’

Best Shape of His Life.

Last July, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. arrived for Summer Camp in Toronto out of shape. He knew it, and his teammates knew it.

Not far removed from being baseball’s brightest prospect with generational potential, this was an early threat to the 21-year-old’s long-term success. Guerrero knew something had to change, so that’s when this all started.

From then to now, Guerrero has lost 42 pounds and transformed his body. His fitness has been the talk of camp through the early days in Dunedin, Fla., and Guerrero was introspective on Wednesday when he thought back to the summer of 2020.

“For the last couple years, they knew I was coming here out of shape. I didn’t prepare myself very well,” Guerrero said through a team interpreter. “I felt like, at that moment, my teammates needed an apology from me. I just talked to them for a while, and the good thing about that is that they accepted my apology. Right then, they talked to me, they motivated me. You know what? It’s in the past. Let’s start over again and start getting ready.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 24, 2021 at 09:52 PM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays, vladimir guerrero jr.

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   1. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 25, 2021 at 01:15 AM (#6006668)
Best shape of his life?
   2. bfan Posted: February 25, 2021 at 07:49 AM (#6006674)
Last July, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. arrived for Summer Camp in Toronto out of shape. He knew it, and his teammates knew it.


Did any writer covering the team come out and say this then, or later? I assume if "his teammates knew it" then so did the writers; it is hard to keep a secret when 25 people (not including coaching staff) know it.

No, I am not talking about dancing around it "he appears to be carrying a few extra pounds" or "as his body fills out as he ages", but sure enough what every journalist aspires to be, veritas and seekers and disclosers of the truth, should have said "the kid believes he is so good, he can play while fat, and he is wrong" or "as others stayed in shape to bring to their teammates the best version of themselves, Vlad 2 kept eating". For those who cover the team and did not get to this, you are fan boys and enablers, and promoters of your own tastes and views.
   3. mathesond Posted: February 25, 2021 at 08:39 AM (#6006677)
It was pretty common knowledge on the Jays blogs I read that Vlad was very much out of shape.
   4. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 09:32 AM (#6006685)

His being overweight was something that was discussed here and in some places as early as 2019, but I don’t remember anyone specifically calling him out last spring. But then again, it was a weird spring.

Here’s one link where a guy basically says “Why isn’t anyone else talking about Vlad’s weight gain?”

   5. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 09:49 AM (#6006688)

FWIW, there were articles about Vlad having lost 32 lbs. as early as November 2020, and saying he still wanted to lose another 10. He’s been posting photos and videos of his workouts on Instagram all winter, and he does look much fitter than before. He’s been doing a lot of flexibility training and not just focused on losing weight or building strength. The real question will be whether he can keep the weight off and whether it actually makes a difference on the field.
   6. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 25, 2021 at 10:52 AM (#6006698)
From the video at the link, Guerrero still looks to be a bit thick-waisted and packing a few extra pounds in the rear. Apparently that’s a lot better than last year, and probably won’t hurt him much at his age, but one wonders if this will be an issue throughout his career.
   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 11:08 AM (#6006707)
There was an article a couple of years ago about how his grandmother would cook copious amounts of food for Vlad and his teammates. She had done so for Vlad Sr. and Wilton Guerrero when they were in the majors as well. While home cooked food is likely healthier than restaurant or prepared foods, that always seemed like a recipe for disaster (no pun intended) for a guy with weight issues like Vlad Jr.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 11:24 AM (#6006710)
FWIW, there were articles about Vlad having lost 32 lbs. as early as November 2020, and saying he still wanted to lose another 10. He’s been posting photos and videos of his workouts on Instagram all winter, and he does look much fitter than before. He’s been doing a lot of flexibility training and not just focused on losing weight or building strength. The real question will be whether he can keep the weight off and whether it actually makes a difference on the field.

Losing weight will obviously help his longevity, and should help his D, but I don't know of any evidence that being fat hurts your hitting. If Vlad's a -7 fielder instead of a -15, it won't mean much if he's still sporting a 110 wRC+.

   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 25, 2021 at 11:28 AM (#6006713)
There was an article a couple of years ago about how his grandmother would cook copious amounts of food for Vlad and his teammates. She had done so for Vlad Sr. and Wilton Guerrero when they were in the majors as well. While home cooked food is likely healthier than restaurant or prepared foods, that always seemed like a recipe for disaster (no pun intended) for a guy with weight issues like Vlad Jr.
Narrator: Vlad's grandmother mysteriously disappeared in October 2020...
   10. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: February 25, 2021 at 11:39 AM (#6006715)
From the video at the link, Guerrero still looks to be a bit thick-waisted and packing a few extra pounds in the rear.


A few years ago (2016?) Pablo Sandoval spent the off-season getting in shape. He posted to twitter that he was in BSOHL and in the pictures, well he was pretty ripped. Then he showed up for spring training. He still looked the same as the photos but standing next to other professional athletes it became obvious that "in shape" means one thing in a gym with a bunch of regular schmoes and very much another thing surrounded by actual athletes.
   11. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 11:42 AM (#6006718)
From the video at the link, Guerrero still looks to be a bit thick-waisted and packing a few extra pounds in the rear.


Some of that is just natural body type. Vlad Sr., even when he was stealing 40 bases a season, had pretty massive thighs and quite the caboose. He was taller and carried his weight a little better than Vlad Jr., but I think the junk in the trunk is just a Guerrero trait, so there's only so much little Vlad can do. Good for him for getting a handle on it, though. Hopefully he can stay in the shape he wants.
   12. Perry Posted: February 25, 2021 at 11:42 AM (#6006719)
I was a little surprised that it said he was interviewed through an interpreter, since Vlad Sr. played in the US and Canada for so long. But it sounds like he wasn't that close to his dad and grew up mostly in the DR with his mother and his dad's brother Wilton, who was more of a father figure. And if you look at the photo as a 3-year-old in that link, he's never been what you'd call slender.
   13. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 01:13 PM (#6006751)

I was a little surprised that it said he was interviewed through an interpreter, since Vlad Sr. played in the US and Canada for so long. But it sounds like he wasn't that close to his dad and grew up mostly in the DR with his mother and his dad's brother Wilton, who was more of a father figure. And if you look at the photo as a 3-year-old in that link, he's never been what you'd call slender.


According to someone in the recent language thread Vlad Sr never learned english, if so I can't imagine Vlad speaking it at home.
   14. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 25, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6006756)
Not sure about either Guerrero’s English fluency, but there is a big difference between understanding enough to get by and being willing & able to speak a foreign language on TV, with any shortcomings taking on a life of their own.
   15. Adam Starblind Posted: February 25, 2021 at 02:12 PM (#6006761)
Vlad Sr., even when he was stealing 40 bases a season, had pretty massive thighs and quite the caboose.


Big glutes make you fast. I have no a*s at any weight, and I swear there isn't a single one of you who couldn't beat me in a sprint.
   16. Adam Starblind Posted: February 25, 2021 at 02:14 PM (#6006763)
Bartolo Colon played in the U.S. for over 20 years and never learned English. I always liked that about him. Stickin' it to the man.
   17. Random Transaction Generator Posted: February 25, 2021 at 04:16 PM (#6006793)
Vladdy Jr. seems to understand English a lot more than he lets on, but isn't comfortable speaking it except in limited cases.

During the 2020 Blue Jays Winterfest, the team launched their new baby-blue outfits by having a bunch of the players come out on stage in them (including Vladdy Jr.).
Then they had all the players sit down and answer some questions from the hosts of the show. Beside Vladdy on the stage was his interpreter. He sat there waiting for the host to ask Vladdy a question, and didn't say anything to Vladdy when everyone else was asking/answering questions, and Vladdy was laughing and clapping at the answers.

The host asked "What do you think of the new jerseys?". The interpreter was about to translate the question to Vladdy, but Vladdy stopped him and said "We make them look gooood."
That got a huge laugh from the audience/host/fellow players, and you could see the interpreter give the exaggerated "What am I even doing here?" frustrated comedic shrug.

Post-game questions during the season were still all answered with the help of an interpreter.

   18. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 25, 2021 at 05:08 PM (#6006796)
Stickin' it to the man.
Or el hombre, as the case may be.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: February 25, 2021 at 05:18 PM (#6006797)
#8: It should hurt on the margins -- fewer IF hits, fewer ROE, doubles turned into singles. Probably doesn't amount to more than 15-20 points of OPS. If also playing the field, there might be increased in-season durability or playing hurt issues. But for sure the biggest impacts are on baserunning and defensive value.

There may also be a spurious correlation. Not controlling weight, especially for an elite athlete, might be an indicator of a broader lack of discipline/control. Is a player who could lose weight but doesn't (i.e. it's not genetic or brain wiring or whatever) going to put in the other work to excel as a hitter?
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 05:24 PM (#6006799)
There may also be a spurious correlation. Not controlling weight, especially for an elite athlete, might be an indicator of a broader lack of discipline/control. Is a player who could lose weight but doesn't (i.e. it's not genetic or brain wiring or whatever) going to put in the other work to excel as a hitter?

I don't know. There've been some pretty damn good fat hitters, when they were young: the Fielders, Kruk, Luzinski, Sandoval, Mo Vaughn, etc.. They collapse early though.
   21. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 08:01 PM (#6006816)
Losing weight will obviously help his longevity, and should help his D, but I don't know of any evidence that being fat hurts your hitting. If Vlad's a -7 fielder instead of a -15, it won't mean much if he's still sporting a 110 wRC+.

Sure, if the 21-year-old doesn’t get any better at the plate, it’s all moot. Although if he stays a 110 OPS+ guy, being able to stick at 3B vs 1B is probably a big difference in what he’ll get paid and how long he’ll be an everyday starter.

Like I said, he seems to be focusing on things besides just weight loss. Whether that will make him a better hitter, I don’t know. Hard to see how it can hurt. He certainly doesn’t need to be 280 to generate power.
   22. sunday silence (again) Posted: February 25, 2021 at 10:37 PM (#6006828)

Big glutes make you fast


The most recent thinking seems to be that diminished weight/bone mass in the lower fibia allow for greater ability to propel that foot forward. I say "seems" because I dont follow the debate on genetics/speed that closely .
   23. Walt Davis Posted: February 25, 2021 at 10:43 PM (#6006829)
I don't know. There've been some pretty damn good fat hitters, when they were young: the Fielders, Kruk, Luzinski, Sandoval, Mo Vaughn, etc.. They collapse early though.

I kinda looked at that a few years ago and decided it's actually not clear. Lots of players go off the cliff at those ages; in some cases, it's not clear if it was injury (Mo, Howard, certainly Prince) or decline. Lots of tubby guys hung around a long time -- Ortiz, Stargell, Gwynn, Carty (late), Colon. It seems unavoidable a big guy would be more susceptible to joint issues so there's likely some effect but it wasn't an obvious "these guys age terribly" sort of thing. Of course pretty much impossible to analyze properly without updated, legit weight measurements.

But neither here nor there with regard to my apecukation. What I'm saying is that while presumable the vast majority of MLBers are making at least a solid effort at improving/maintaining skills, there seem to be 5% (WAG) that don't seem to. I'm speculating that it might be 10% among the guys who are tubby at 22.
   24. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 26, 2021 at 07:36 AM (#6006851)

I have no glutes to speak of, but I’m still reasonably fast. That being said, sprinters do tend to be a lot more muscular than distance runners.
   25. Ron J Posted: February 26, 2021 at 10:54 AM (#6006875)
#24 Alberto Juantorena (a 400/800 M guy) changed public perceptions about runner's builds. He looked really built compared to the guys he was competing against.

It's obviously hyperbole, but I recall the discussion about how he had a body that looked more like an NFL player than what you'd expect of a runner and one of the NFL guys jokes that he was big enough to play guard.
   26. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: February 26, 2021 at 11:12 AM (#6006877)
I don't know. There've been some pretty damn good fat hitters, when they were young: the Fielders, Kruk, Luzinski, Sandoval, Mo Vaughn, etc.. They collapse early though.


My quibble with this is it assumes they wouldn't have been better if they slimmed down some. Being able to succeed while being overweight doesn't mean the players wouldn't have been better off shedding a few pounds. The Mo Vaughn of 1995 and the Mo Vaughn of 2002 are pretty noticeably different bodies.
   27. Ron J Posted: February 26, 2021 at 11:52 AM (#6006881)
#26 Works the other way though doesn't it. As in is there actual evidence that slimming down improves players. And yes, I'm aware of plenty of success cases but there's nothing like a systematic study on the matter that I'm aware of.

Mind you I'll buy the argument advanced by some that being in shape could serve as a proxy for overall work ethic.

The problem being the difficulty in getting a meaningful sense of any given player's general level of fitness. I mean Mickey Lolich is listed as 6'1" 170. And he's kind of the poster boy for a successful fat guy.
   28. Adam Starblind Posted: February 26, 2021 at 12:27 PM (#6006884)
I have no glutes to speak of, but I’m still reasonably fast.


Maybe I have negative glutes. Of course, I am also old which does not help my foot speed.
   29. Hit by Pitch Posted: February 27, 2021 at 12:23 PM (#6006970)
The biggest issue with Vlad is that he can't get the ball up in the air. If he could get his launch angle up we would see the elite player everyone was expecting.

Does losing weight help get the ball up in the air?
   30. depletion Posted: February 27, 2021 at 12:54 PM (#6006972)
I have to wonder about a guy that young being that overweight. If he wasn't overweight how did he lose 42 pounds and not die? I mean losing 42 pounds for a guy who's 250 is a heck of a lot of weight loss. He sure hit the cover off the ball in the minors and is still very young, I just wonder if the weight loss will stick. Sid Fernandez of the late '80's Mets used to come into camp in good shape (probably the BSOHL) and gain weight as the season rolled on. As a pitcher, it wasn't too much of an issue.
   31. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: February 27, 2021 at 01:59 PM (#6006978)
I have to wonder about a guy that young being that overweight. If he wasn't overweight how did he lose 42 pounds and not die? I mean losing 42 pounds for a guy who's 250 is a heck of a lot of weight loss. He sure hit the cover off the ball in the minors and is still very young, I just wonder if the weight loss will stick. Sid Fernandez of the late '80's Mets used to come into camp in good shape (probably the BSOHL) and gain weight as the season rolled on. As a pitcher, it wasn't too much of an issue.


After spending my 20s in the 170s-very low 190s, I went through some things and packed on a good 50-55 pounds over the course of a year and a half. Have since lost it all, but it didn't affect my ability to hit a fastball. Couldn't at 245; can't at 190. :D
   32. Walt Davis Posted: February 27, 2021 at 05:03 PM (#6006986)
#29: I hadn't noticed it before but that's spot on. A G/F ratio of 1.07 (avg 0.76) is not good in today's game. But the HR/FB ratio is league-average so far so it's not clear we'd see a big jump in production ... and will he need to reduce contact to achieve a higher LA (i.e. avoid GBs)? His avg EV was quite high in 2020 but not so much 2019. Statcast-wise he looks a fair bit like Schwarber** so not much obvious gain if that's the sort of lower-contact, higher-LA batter that Vlad could be.

** Just a comparison of convenience as they were next to each other in a table.
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 27, 2021 at 05:20 PM (#6006988)
#29: I hadn't noticed it before but that's spot on. A G/F ratio of 1.07 (avg 0.76) is not good in today's game. But the HR/FB ratio is league-average so far so it's not clear we'd see a big jump in production ... and will he need to reduce contact to achieve a higher LA (i.e. avoid GBs)? His avg EV was quite high in 2020 but not so much 2019. Statcast-wise he looks a fair bit like Schwarber** so not much obvious gain if that's the sort of lower-contact, higher-LA batter that Vlad could be.

I don't think it's just hitting it on the ground, he's just not hitting the ball very hard. A 37% Hard hit % is mediocre, and a 17.5% LD% is awful.
   34. Random Transaction Generator Posted: February 28, 2021 at 12:12 PM (#6007014)
Sid Fernandez of the late '80's Mets used to come into camp in good shape (probably the BSOHL) and gain weight as the season rolled on. As a pitcher, it wasn't too much of an issue.

Vladdy was the opposite in 2020. He showed up fat for summer training and lost weight as the season went on.

I don't think it's just hitting it on the ground, he's just not hitting the ball very hard. A 37% Hard hit % is mediocre, and a 17.5% LD% is awful.

I don't know where you got those numbers.

He was in the top 7% for exit velocity and hard hit % (14th overall in this stat), and had a 24.0% LD%.

Power is not a problem for him at all. It's all about launch angle.

   35. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: March 01, 2021 at 11:28 AM (#6007096)
Not sure about either Guerrero’s English fluency, but there is a big difference between understanding enough to get by and being willing & able to speak a foreign language on TV, with any shortcomings taking on a life of their own.


Sr. actively avoided learning the language and if I remember correctly discouraged his children from learning as well. I don't want to be too specific because I can't remember the exact quote, but it had something to do with being afraid they'd lose their heritage if they assimilated.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: March 01, 2021 at 05:01 PM (#6007173)
I don't know where you got those numbers.

Agreed. Chiming in just to promote that b-r has added an "advanced batting" table to a player's main page and that this table includes some of the basic statcast data (EV, hard-hit%) as well as some of the key ratios, etc. And something they call rOBA which I assume is a wOBA-style measure. We can now quickly see that Vlad's career avg EV is 90.8 (lgAvg 88.7) and hard hit% is 45 (avg 39).

Note for reasons I don't know, they present G/F ratio as GB/FB with no LDs included. There may be a good reason for that but it obviously produces a vastly different number than the traditional (which is still available in the ratio batting table on the advanced batting page). And the glossary hover still says it does include LDs so maybe just some missing code.

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