Guerrero and Shaw: The launch angle outliers

On the surface, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Travis Shaw have little in common. Two hitters at two completely different points in their careers, on opposite sides of the diamond (although Guerrero’s future is arguably at first base).
As dissimilar as they are, both Vladdy and Shaw struggled mightily at the plate in 2019, but for two completely different reasons. They were both outliers when it came to launch angles.
Although he has one of the most ferocious swings in baseball, Guerrero pummelled balls into the ground with regularity throughout the 2019 season. Conversely, the degree of Shaw’s uppercut swing went too far north, turning line drives into pop-ups and fly outs.
Somehow, these two were on the polar opposite of the launch angle chart in 2019 and find themselves in the same roster in 2020 with the same issue; they need to get their swing plane back on track.
AVG Launch Angle
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
6.7 °
16th lowest
Travis Shaw
24.4 °
1st highest
Let’s start with Vladdy, whose 6.7 degree average launch angle was the 18th lowest among hitters with 250 or more plate appearances in 2019. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Shaw who …

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Author: Ian Hunter / Blue Jays Nation

Travis Shaw and taking the fly ball revolution too far

Travis Shaw was one of the better players in baseball from 2017-18. He put up 7.1 fWAR which made him the 39th most valuable position player over those two seasons, sandwiched between George Springer, Michael Conforto and Buster Posey and Mitch Haniger. His 119 wRC+ again placed him among the top 45 hitters in the game. He was a big part of the Brewers resurgence into a playoff team and was very valuable for them in 2018. He played primarily third base in both seasons, but he logged significant time at second base and saw some action at first as well. Players like this don’t become available too often and if they do they usually come at a significant price. Something had to of gone significantly wrong for Shaw to land on the Blue Jays for just a 1-year $4M deal. By now I am sure you know the story. Shaw’s offense fell apart last season. His wRC+ dropped to 47 and his WAR bottomed out at -0.8.
When looking at what happened to Shaw last season, his struggles were entirely with the bat. Nothing changed on the defensive end; he wasn’t taking his at bats out to the …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation