June 13, 2012
Swinging from His Toes to His Nose
For a little bit Tuesday morning, we heard that Vladimir Guerrero was retired, but then we found out he was not retired. This is fitting, because when I watch Vladimir Guerrero swing I assume he is about to be retired (by the opposing pitcher) but he often turns out to be not retired (by the opposing pitcher). He swings at bad pitches and manages to hit them, is what I'm saying.
So he's not retired, but he asked to be—and was—released by the Blue Jays, which is to say he very well might be retired and he just doesn't know it. Maybe not, but he wasn't in demand three months ago, and he is exactly three months older today. Rather than write his official obituary, though, which is what I was planning during that little bit Tuesday morning, we can flip our perspective and admire these GIFs of Vladimir Guerrero as a teaser of what we are in store for if he does find another job. Or what we'll miss out on if he doesn't. I went through the PITCHf/x logs looking for: Vlad's worst swing of 2011, Vlad taking a called third strike, Vlad's worst swing on a 3-0 count and (going back three years) Vlad's worst swing that produced a hit. These are more or less the results.
1. Vladimir Guerrero swinging at a pitch.
Vladimir Guerrero is, in many ways, the last unGIFfable athlete. Obviously, he can be GIFfed; this is a GIF of him. But GIFs don't really capture him as well as good old-fashioned still photography does. What you see above is Vladimir Guerrero swinging at a pitch that hits the plate, as he is prone to do, but he doesn't look all that different from, say, Jeff Francoeur swinging at a pitch that hits the plate, as he is also prone to do. But here, in the single frame, the essence of Vladimir Guerrero emerges: