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AL West: A post-derby slump
Earlier this month, many of the games biggest sluggers, including Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Ken Griffey Jr., chose to skip the Home Run Derby. Immediately, folks relentlessly hammered the non-participants. Fans and media members alike especially bashed Bonds' old man rationale. ("It's not that you don't want to do it," Bonds had told the San Francisco Chronicle. "At a certain age you just can't.")
But Bonds and cohorts may have made the right decision in opting out of the contest. Just ask Vladimir Guerrero.
Big Daddy Vladdy took home the derby title, smacking 17 balls into the AT&T Park stands, but Guerrero hasn't hit a homer since his magnificent display in the Bay. In fact, he hasn't left the yard since a June 23 game against Pittsburgh. This 24-game, 97-at-bat stretch is the longest homerless drought in Guerrero's illustrious career. According to Angels color commentator Rex Hudler, Guerrero says three taxing rounds at the derby are at least partially responsible for the dry spell. During Tuesday's broadcast, Hudler spoke of a pregame conversation with Vlad in which the right fielder surprisingly admitted that the derby wore him down and affected his stroke.
With just 14 jacks through the first 100 games of 2007, Guerrero's on pace to finish the regular season with 23, which would be a career low.
Truth be told, though, the Angels couldn't care less.
While the home runs have been scarce, Guerrero's still managed to produce at an elite level. His current .327 batting average is two points better than his career mark, and his .409 on-base percentage easily trumps his lifetime clip (.391). Vlad has the fourth-most RBIs (79) in the American League; at this rate, he has a chance to top his career-best mark of 131 in 1999. And with 32 doubles, he's en route to easily eclipse his highest total ever (45 in 2001).
Angels manager Mike Scioscia gave Guerrero the day off on Wednesday and the Angels don't play today. On Friday, Los Angeles opens up a three-game series against the Tigers, who have given up the fourth-most homers in the American League. If facing Detroit doesn't get Guerrero out of his big-fly funk then the turn of the month should do the trick. Vlad's career splits show that August is definitely The Impaler's best power month.
Labels: AL West
posted by SI.com | View comments |
how come ppl dont realize how good teixeira is????
.300 avg, 40+ HR, 120+ rbi, very good gold glove defense, and about to enter his prime
cuz he plays for the rangers?
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