Make no mistake, regression was coming for the Astros Yuli Gurriel in 2022.
I was confident enough to write about Yuli Gurriel’s possible regression back in January.
"“Gurriel appears ageless, but expecting a 38 year old (in June) who hit 20 points higher than he ever has in his Major League career to duplicate that feat is not a wise bet in my opinion. That said, the right-hander could regress and still hit .300.”"
It’s not a novel idea that a soon to be 38-year-old — who led the league in batting average — would find it difficult to duplicate his numbers for a second year.
During his remarkable 2021 season, Gurriel’s expected batting average was 48 points below his actual average and that’s what led me to believe he would regress, along with the fact that most 38-year-olds simply don’t hit .300, much less .319.
I did not, however, expect the numbers and lack of home run power we’ve seen out of Gurriel this season through the first 32 games.
Currently slashing .198/.243/.307 with an OPS+ of 64, Gurriel has struggled in almost every offensive advanced metric. He’s not hitting the ball hard or barreling it up, his chase rate is near the bottom third of the league and to top it off he’s not walking very often, subsequently ending up with one of the worst xwOBA in the league.
Unlike Kyle Tucker’s beginning to 2021, where Tucker hit the ball hard with little luck resulting in a xBA that was much higher than his actual average, Gurriel’s xBA sits at .204 and his xSLG at .291.
While all of Gurriel’s numbers against pitch types are down as you would expect, the one that jumps out to me is the fastball. Last season, Gurriel slashed .328/.277/.450 on fastballs, hitting eight home runs on the pitch he saw 59.1% of the time.
In 2022, he’s seeing the pitch almost the same amount of the time (58.9%), but only slashing .180/.188/.279. with no home runs in 61 at-bats on the pitch.
The season is 20% done, but there’s still time to turn it around for the lifetime .290 hitting Cuban. If he hits .300 from this point forward, assuming the same number of at-bats as he had last season, Gurriel would finish the season at a respectable .281.
I have my doubts obviously, with his launch angle higher than it’s ever been and his exit velocity lower than it’s ever been, something is not working for one of the Houston Astros fan favorites.