CLEVELAND – From the moment he arrived in Cleveland, Brandon Guyer did not miss a beat as he played an integral role amidst a run to the 2016 World Series.
The platoon specialist slashed .328/.435/.517 against left-handed pitching, led the MLB in hit by pitches (31) for the second year in a row and paired well with Lonnie Chisenhall throughout the latter half of the season.
Now his timing seems to be out of sorts to start the 2017 campaign.
“We thought when he hit that home run the other day, maybe that would kind of [get him going], because it was a really good swing,” said manager Terry Francona. “He's gotten stuck a little bit on that back side, where even when he's getting in hitter's counts, the fastball's beating him.”
Guyer is batting .160/.222/.280 (4-for-25) with one extra-base hit, a two-run blast off the emerging Jose Quintana last Friday. Aside from the 398-foot shot at a speed of 101-mph to dead center field, Guyer has found himself undercutting the baseball with his weight stuck on his back foot.
“You saw him the other day in Chicago, I think he had two 3-1 counts and he flew out to right, and he was mad, because he knew there's something he should do with it,” Francona said. “It's a little bit of a timing thing and he'll figure it out. And, when he does, he'll be every bit as dangerous as he has been. He's healthy and all that. He's just getting stuck on that back side a little bit.”
The 31-year-old has an average launch angle of 29.41 degrees and an average height of 70.08 feet, both marks that exceed the big league averages of 12.78 degrees and 40.76 feet respectively.
In addition, Guyer has a 23.8% batted ball percentage to his pull side in left field, a total well short of his career clip of 43.5%. It is a small sample size of 25 at-bats in 10 games, but Guyer is not timing up pitches like he did with the Tampa Bay Rays from 2011-2016 and the Tribe in 2016.
Working out these kinks will be crucial if Guyer wants to make better contact and balance his offensive production to all parts of the field.
“He's a good worker,” said Francona of Guyer battling through his struggles despite holding a role primarily confined against lefties. “If you work on something and you feel good, and then maybe you get one at-bat or maybe you have to wait three days, and if you don't have immediate results or somebody makes a good pitch, it can be a little harder than when you're playing every day.”
The former University of Virginia standout is hitting seventh on Tuesday vs. Dallas Keuchel, a hurler who has allowed six hits and one walk to Guyer in 11 plate appearances.
“He'll be fine. That's why we've actually let him face righties a few times, just thinking it would be helpful for him,” Francona said. “He'll get there.”