With an event as big as the Home Run Derby, we can understand why ESPN wanted not one, but two sport science segments. And while Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. decided to sit out this year’s Derby, after being a standout performer in years’ past, few home run hitters are as exciting in the current game. If he wasn’t an exciting enough player in his own right, Vladdy Jr.’s story is even more fascinating because of comparisons to his Hall of Fame father, Vladimir Guerrero, Sr. We used the father-son comparison as a jumping off point to craft our second Sport Science segment of the All Star Break.
It is a near-impossible task to follow in a Hall-of-Fame parent’s footsteps, but somehow, Vladdy, Jr. is doing it. After becoming one of the most-hyped prospects in recent baseball history, the younger Guerrero has posted almost identical stats to his dad through their first 400 games. But we wanted to go even deeper than just stats to see how the two players compare to one another. That meant an in-depth swing analysis of the two sluggers.
We used a lot of on-screen graphics to highlight the players’ similarities over video. This involved using ball trackers, measurement graphics for launch angles and stride analysis, and stat graphics. There was also a lot of split screen used to show both Vlads at different points throughout their swings. It’s pretty remarkable just how similar their profiles are, despite some differences in size and play-style. But these similarities seem like they bode well for Vlad Jr.’s future, considering his dad ended up in Cooperstown.
Our 3D-model was used mainly to slow down Vladdy Jr.'s swing, to show how he compares not just to his dad, but to other current home run hitters. Because of the speed of the swing (and the sport), it’s hard to fully break down the art of hitting with video highlights. The model allowed us to really dive into Vlad’s launch angle, swing plane, and stride to see just how he manages to hit the ball so hard.
It’s said that one of the hardest things to do in sports is to square up a round ball with a round bat, but both Vlad Jr. and Sr. make it look pretty easy. If you aren’t the biggest baseball fan, maybe take some time to watch some Vladdy highlights – it just might change your mind.