Daily Archives: March 10, 2017
Jason Heyward is 6’5” 240 Lbs; he’s a plus runner with plus bat speed, a plus arm, a plus defender, and apparently off-the-charts makeup. He’s been a top prospect since he was drafted. He looked like a future super star after his 2012 season that saw him hit 27 HR and 30 doubles. He signed a mega deal with the Cubs after a somewhat resurgent season with the St. Louis Cardinals only to fall to all-time lows in virtually every offensive statistic known to man. He struck nearly twice as many times as he walked, barely broke the .300 OBP mark, and hit a lowly .230 that was devoid of power and production. Thankfully for the Cubs, he is a stalwart defender and still has some worth. Will he ever live up to the contract he signed last off-season? Not likely. But the real question is how to get the ultra-talented 27 year old back on track for the prime years of his career? It’s easier said than done, but where there is a will there is a way. For me it is a 4 step process.
1. Tear it all down.
His swing simply does not work. It’s rigid, it’s long, and the small changes he has tried to make have done nothing to get at the root of his swing problems.
2. Find his athleticism
For such an incredible athlete, his swing lacks any athleticism. This has been evident since he was a high schooler. One of the first rules of coaching hitters should be: DO NOT take away a hitters athleticism. Use it as a way to promote rhythm and timing in their swings. Let him be an athlete again. The rigidity in his swing does not allow him to create timing. The swing unveiled this spring fails him by starting his swing in the front with little connection between upper and lower body. This leaves him continuously out of funk, unable to stay behind the baseball. All of these factors not lining up contributes to his inability to recognize pitches. This is evident in his takes and the excessive amount of bad early count contact (which mask his strikeout totals).
The answer, that is. It’s always Lou Gehrig.
Actually… we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll come back to answer in a minute or two. Let’s first discuss the question.
So there’s a game baseball fans like to play (and by “fans” we also include anybody, anywhere, who has ever written any words, at any time, about the sport). The game, or exercise if you prefer, is to rank the best player who ever lived at every position. Think of it as the all-time, “All-Time Starting Lineup.” Entire books have been devoted the topic, TV shows, countless articles, blog posts… it’s a favorite pastime of devotees of the national past time. READ MORE AT PLATE COVERAGE
Like a fine wine, Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz has gotten better with age.
He had consistently been a force in the middle of the Texas Rangers’ lineup since becoming an everyday player in 2009, but he’s gone to another level in recent years.
The slugger never collected fewer than 22 homers or 76 RBI in a single season with Texas, but also never hit more than 33 dingers or drove in 90 runs while playing over 128 games just once.
Things have taken off since leaving the Lone Star state, though. Between his age-33 and age-35 campaigns, he’s enjoyed three straight 40-plus homer and 90-plus RBI performances.
While entering 2017 as a 36-year-old will raise some eyebrows with what we know about aging power hitters, he’s still expected to be a major run producer in the middle of Seattle’s lineup.
Besides age, have there been any signs of decline that we can see?
New cutting edge technology we use to enjoy entertainment is nothing new to young adults. And baseball can survive if they put their old wine in new bottles.
From the campus of UC Berkeley, enjoy this episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.