Patience or Panic: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Willy Adames, Yu Darvish

What should we do with these struggling players?

The baseball season is long. Very long. And that can lead to a lot of frustration.

Inevitably, players who you depend on will hurt you at some point. Nobody is immune from a slump while playing nearly every single day for six straight months.

As a fantasy baseball manager, there are only two things you can control when that happens: how you react to the slump, and how much you’re willing to endure.


Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Toronto Blue Jays


It’s not easy being the son of a baseball legend. Guerrero came into the league with sky-high expectations but seemingly was up to the task. In 2021, Guerrero was unstoppable. He hit .311/.401/.601 with 48 home runs, 123 runs, and 111 RBI.

I bring that up for two reasons. One, for now, that is the peak of Guerrero’s young career. He still was good in 2022, but he saw his batting average fall by 35 points and his counting stats all take significant dips. And, two, progress is rarely ever as linear as we would like it to be.

Overall, Guerrero is having a strong season even if it’s not to a first-round standard. He’s hitting .283/.353/.445 with nine home runs, 41 RBI, and 31 runs in 65 games. The production he provided early in the year probably helped you get off to a strong start in your league.

Statcast backs up the overall picture. In fact, his approach at the plate looks awfully similar to his magical 2021 season. When it comes to hitting the ball hard, there is almost nobody in the league who has done it better than Guerrero this season. His strikeout rate is also well above average and his expected batting average (.303) is actually higher than his actual mark (.283).

But over the past month, Guerrero has become more of a liability than an asset. Over that period, he has a .629 OPS with just two home runs and 17 RBI. He hasn’t homered since May 23. Typically an excellent hitter, Guerrero is batting just .238 during that stretch.

While it’s becoming increasingly likely that we may never see the 2021 version of Guerrero again, the production he’s provided lately is still a bitter pill to swallow.

Looking again at Statcast over the past 30 days, it hasn’t been as bad as you might expect considering the poor results. He’s still taking good at bats with a respectable .331 xwOBA fed by a very strong 93.5 mph average exit velocity. While his strikeouts are up slightly, he’s still better than average and his .275 xBA and .284 BABIP hints that bad luck is taking a slight toll on the results.

Verdict: Patience. If you drafted Guerrero high in the first round, then sure, go ahead and panic. If you expected a season similar to 2021, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. Instead, if you’re just looking to get back to last year’s version of Guerrero, stay patient. The past month has been rough, but it’s just the nature of variance in baseball. Guerrero continues to take good at bats and continues to hit the ball hard. That will pay off again soon.


Willy Adames, SS, Milwaukee Brewers


Nobody is going to confuse Adames with Corey Seager, but nobody probably expected Adames to fall as far as he has through the first few months of the season.

So far this year, Adames is hitting .208/.288/.382 with 10 home runs, 28 RBI, and 27 runs scored in 57 games. Just for good measure, he also spent time on the IL with a concussion.

All of that is just one year removed from the best season of his career. In 2022, Adames hit a career-high 31 home runs with 98 RBI and 83 runs scored. His batting average was a painful .238, but you could live with that as long as Adames provided power.

While his home run pace is down, Adames does have a respectable 10 dingers this season, so he has not been complete dud. But with his batting average barely above the Mendoza line, the pain is far more acute.

He might be lucky to even have 10 home runs. Adames has never had big-time power. His average exit velocity often floats around the league average, but it has fallen a few ticks below this year. His 86.3 mph average EV currently sits in the bottom 8% of the league. With 7.7 xHR this season, Adames should be thankful for what he has.

Unfortunately, the slugger is going to have a hard time making his case as he trends in the wrong direction. Over the past month, Adames’ strikeout rate has skyrocketed (34.3%) and his xwOBA has tanked (.285).

Verdict: Panic. Adames already was having a rough season and it only continues to get worse. While he always struck out too often, his current rate is putting him closer to taking a seat on a bench than crushing pitches into the rafters. While his .231 BABIP over the past month suggests some bad luck is in play, Statcast doesn’t fully agree with a .200 xBA. Even if he makes improvements, there might be a ceiling here that is still disappointing.


Yu Darvish, SP, San Diego Padres


Darvish is having a rough time.

Over the past month, the Padres ace has a 6.15 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 27 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings.

On some level, this is just who Darvish is: a supremely talented pitcher who can absolutely take over the league for long stretches while completely looking lost on the mound at other times.

Overall, Darvish has just been okay. He has a 4.30 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 74 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched. His K-BB% is actually pretty strong, ranking 23rd best in the league at 18.4%. While that’s below his usual mark, it shows he’s pitching at least slightly better than his results. That’s backed up by his 3.77 FIP and a 5.17 PLV that places him just outside the top quartile.

Surprisingly, little seems to have changed over the past month despite the poor results. His K-BB% (17.3%) and FIP (4.11) in the timespan are relatively close to his season averages..

Verdict: Patience. I guess. Darvish is going to hurt you at times. He’s also going to be amazing at times. In the end, I think Darvish will finish right around where the ERA estimators predict – an ERA in the high 3s or low 4s. If you drafted him expecting prime Darvish who will dominate any lineup, then panic. If you drafted him expecting a bit of a rollercoaster, then just be patient. It’s bad now, but the good times are coming too.

Ryan Loren

Ryan Loren is a baseball writer for Pitcher List and a Detroit sports fan struggling to remember what it's like to root for winning teams.

One response to “Patience or Panic: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Willy Adames, Yu Darvish”

  1. B says:

    “While it’s becoming increasingly likely that we may never see the 2021 version of Guerrero again…”

    That statement is absurd considering his age and talent level.

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