Heath Bintliff: Guerrero’s troubling power outage

As any of you who have read my posts over at Dempsey’s Army know, I love to beat a dead horse. So today I will, once again, examine the addition of Vladimir Guerrero to the Orioles lineup - and the stunning lack of power Guerrero has added to the batting order.

When Guerrero was signed this offseason, he was hailed and the final piece of the puzzle to make the Baltimore offense go. He was a proven cleanup hitter who would bring a presence to the heart of the lineup, provide the team with an RBI machine they hadn’t seen since Miguel Tejada and provide protection for Nick Markakis allowing him to reach greater offensive heights.

Yesterday’s home run notwithstanding, Guerrero has not delivered any of those things. And most of it has to do with his disappearing power.

Using Baseball-Reference.com, I extrapolated some of Guerrero’s numbers over a 162-game season. Here are some of the stats, spotlighting some of the power numbers and comparing each individual stat to his career lows (for seasons where he played at least 110 games) .

Here they are...

                   AVG    OBP    SLG    ISO    HR    XBH   
2011 (Projected)  .282   .309   .386   .104    14     40
Career Lows       .300   .345   .496   .196    25     48

I was not a big fan of the Guerrero signing this offseason - and that’s putting it mildly. But even my most pessimistic expectations are not being met to this point. The rapid dissipation of nearly all the power in his bat is absolutely stunning.

At this point, you have to wonder is Guerrero will have any trade value (another attribute he was to bring to the table) at all come July. He cannot play the field. He is a designated hitter with little power, no on-base skills and dwindling batting average. He has one of the lowest slugging percentages on the Orioles (a team not exactly hitting the cover off the ball) and you have to wonder if it is a wise idea to keep penciling him as the No. 4 hitter every day. Let’s not mince words. Because right now, as a cleanup hitter, he’s killing this team’s offense. Can we really expect him to turn it around in the second half at 36? He faded over the second half of 2010. I’m not holding my breath.

When Guerrero was signed, I jokingly reminded fans to temper enthusiasm by reminding them of the ill-fated season that Sammy Sosa played for the O’s. I had no idea how prophetic those words would actually be.

Heath Bintliff blogs about the Orioles at Dempsey’s Army. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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