By now you’ve seen the stat line. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s hitting .333 with a .922 OPS and more walks than strikeouts after 45 games with the Lansing Lugnuts.
But for those of us who don’t get to see the Lugnuts in person, what does a Guerrero Jr. at-bat actually look like?
“I’ll tell you that it ends with a rocket,” Lansing play-by-play announcer Jesse Goldberg-Strassler told Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling on At the Letters. “Nobody hits the ball harder. When he steps in, there’s a presence about him. Let me walk you up to home plate.
“First, he holds the bat (by) the barrel, and with the handle of the bat, he reaches down and writes ‘Dios’ into the dirt of the home plate circle— “God” in Spanish. Then he takes the bat and he taps the catcher, and he taps the umpire—a show of respect.
“I asked him when he started doing that. He said that growing up back home, he knew everyone. He knew the umpires. He knew the catchers. Nobody told him to stop, so that’s just something he’s always done, just to say hello.
“Then he steps in. He’s got the bat waggling. Every now and then, he’ll rest it on his right shoulder for a moment, but he’s as comfortable as can be. He stares out to the mound. You’re not sure: is he going to uncork on the first pitch of the at-bat, or is he going to just sit there and stare. Take a pitch, and take another pitch.
“When he attacks, it is violent. He will go after the pitch violently for strike one, violently for strike two. Then he cuts down and it becomes a very hand-oriented swing when he gets down in the count, nothing and two. Suddenly he’s leaning forward and his hands fly though, and he raps the pitch back up the middle, or he raps it into right field.
“And if the at-bat continues, if he starts fouling off pitch after pitch, the swing starts to get bigger again. Back to a strike one swing, and back to a strike two swing. He’s hit some strike two home runs this year, because he’s suddenly felt ‘I’ve got this guy. The pitcher’s not going to put it past me.’
“When he lets it go, it’s either him or Bo (Bichette). I’m not sure which one has the biggest swing on the team, which means one of the biggest swings in the league, but it is something. It’s the sort of swing and miss that the crowd is still ready to applaud for.
“I’m saying he’s a pretty darned good hitter.”