What's Happening to Vladimir Guerrero?
Out of gas? At 35, just plain old? Nothing more than a slump? My heat, my God he's wilting in the heat?
Whatever the reason, something's going on with Texas Rangers' designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero. And it ain't good.
While the Rangers meander around - despite last night's 10-1 loss in Tampa they still have an 8-game lead in baseball's worst, smallest division - Vlad is struggling like at no time this season.
Once upon a time Guerrero was hitting around .340 and leading all of baseball in RBI. Since the All-Star break, however, he's hitting more like Vladimir Putin.
As always, Guerrero is swinging at everything. But his back looks slow. He's been forced to "cheat" on fastballs, that is, to start his swing early in order to catch up to the ball. When fooled by a breaking ball, he's looking downright silly. Seems like the last two weeks - despite a hit last night - he's getting no lift, only spraying a variety of hard-hit grounders around the infield.
Manager Ron Washington is trying. He gave him a day off after a day off. Tuesday he put him in right field. Nothing really working, as Vlad is hitting .207 since July 1 and has seen his average dip to .297.
A week of struggling is a funk. Six weeks is a legit slump.
The Rangers may survive to win the American League West without his Guerrero's, but they're going nowhere in October if they're dragging him instead of him pushing them.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.