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Baez working on lowering his hands and getting shorter to the ball

There have been hints that Javier Baez has made some slight adjustments to his swing this winter and has thus far struggled to adapt.  He has said the changes were small and essentially won't change his swing.

"It has been good," Baez said. "It feels weird, but I'm not going to change my swing. We're just working on something, and my swing is going to come like it used to."

Today Mark Gonzalez said Baez confirmed that the change was to lower his hands.

Baez bubble

Baez tends to hold his hands very high, sometimes above eye level, as you can see in the picture above.  That has the effect of lengthening his swing because it forces him to bring his hands down and back up again, as you can see from the pictures in the gallery below.  There is a lot of movement before he actually meets the baseball.  The first three frames are key, but even from there you can see just how far Baez's bat has to travel until he reaches point of contact.

And in case you think I am picking on a bad at-bat, Baez HR'd on this pitch.

Bringing his hand lower should simplify and shorten that swing.  We saw him late on some average fastballs last year that a hitter with his bat speed had no business being late on.

Starting him lower should eliminate much of that early movement and perhaps that extra time will also allow him to pick up the baseball earlier, which should help him with pitch recognition.

It is a subtle change and, like Baez said, the Cubs aren't going to change who he is or have him think too much about things like approach.  Rather, the plan is for that to develop organically as he recognizes pitches earlier.  It may take some time for some of the benefits to manifest themselves and we certainly did not see them yet when he was at Puerto Rico, but at some point the Cubs expect it is going to click with him.  And when it does, the result should be more contact with no sacrifice to his bat speed or the power it creates.

You can see the whole swing here with additional analysis.

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  • Maybe they read my post from awhile back recommending exactly these changes? LOL....Give me a job Theo! Reduce the leg kick as well.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Nice call ;) There's a whole lot of up and down movement with those hands. You can really see it in the pictures.

    I think bringing the hands down may naturally reduce the leg kick a little. Would seem to make it more difficult to bring his legs up with the lower hands and less movement.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Considering Baez is often compared to Sheffield, I wanted to look a Sheffield's swing to see how he may have differed. Sheffield starts just as high and has a ton of movement throughout, but as the pitcher begins his windup he is starting to move his hands down. Based on the video you shared, it seems like Baez almost has a cocking motion before he releases his bat. It obvious where that power comes from when he does connect.

  • I really like this kid, actually - and want him to succeed. He has so much desire and heart, so much passion for the game. It will be painful to watch at times because the adjustment periods are hideous, but he approaches the game with sort of this magical sense of rhythm - with his soul rather than his mind. From a personality standpoint, you want this kid on your team because of the electricity that comes off of him.

  • In reply to discubobulated:

    He does have that certain vibe to him. Would love to see him put it together because if he does he is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch.

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    A reduced leg kick will be good to get the hips going into the swing. I hope this works out for him. I know from experience (many years ago) that changing a swing is hard. Takes some disciplined work to create muscle memory.

  • In reply to Andrue Weber:

    It will certainly take a while before that muscle memory kicks in and it feels natural to him. You can even see from his quote in the article that it still "feels weird".

  • If he can get his act together it will give the Cubs a great problem
    with so many great/good infielders. I can see Bryant and Soler
    in left and right field

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    So I guess the idea is to start lower and just raise the hands once to start the swing instead of the extra up and down motion. Seems pretty simple and Javy should be able to adapt this method rather quickly. Not sure how this helps him with pitch recognition but would really help with keeping his head still. Maybe keeping the moving parts still a bit longer gives him the time needed to recognize the pitch a little more consistently.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    You're going to move your hands a up and back a bit when you load, especially if you're a power hitter. But starting him off lower reduces the need to bring them down first before bringing them up. It saves him from some unnecessary movement and will make him shorter to the ball overall.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    True, and if you look at that front arm, it is "barred" stiff as a board. I think all that leg kick sets it up. I still suggest not allowing the weight to come all the way over the back foot as he does with that high leg kick, resulting in a shorter stride, less head movement forward, and less hand movement and bat wrap. Then in effect you only change one thing, and not pick on this and that. Keep the weight between the feet, inside the back foot. The only habit not addressed is that barred front arm.

    John you have always mentioned the leg kick. I always look for the common denominator in each player's multiple issues. For Baez I think that is the easiest and most complete path to eliminating negative habits.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Another thing I noticed is in #3 and #4, his hands drop, the back elbow stays put, dropping straight down instead of moving toward the pant seam (back hip). His hands and elbow move, without moving at all toward the ball. He releases the bat-head deep in the zone and cheats the front end of the zone of linear movement toward the pitch. It almost seems he is trying to rake back behind the hitting zone. Just another fault I think aided by the leg kick.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Interesting observation because you would never expect that from a guy with Baez's bat speed. He should never have to release early and cheat, usually you associate that with guys who have a slow bat. But maybe all that length early in his swing has the same effect, forcing him to compensate that way, which would make him even more vulnerable. Almost like a snowball effect. Maybe the Cubs think moving his hands down will limit the early movement/length and he won't have to compensate that way. In other words, fix the hands and eventually the rest will naturally follow?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No, no, I don't think he releases early to cheat, I just think it is mechanical. His mechanics force it. I think his bat head reaches back to much, sweeping the zone. But he doesn't need any cheating. I do a drill for this where the batter backs up to a net, I often use a pitching rubber, no spikes, and create the distance from the net of 6". Then I have them take swings, no tee. They hit the net. Later with a tee. I don't want them focusing on two things. If they cast the bat head back and sweep, then they hit the net. If the back elbow comes to the hip in "connection, slot I think you say in baseball, during rotation, with "bat lag" (wrists still cocked, bat head to catcher, knob to pitcher) then they miss the net. They have the linear swing you are looking for, and no early wrist roll. In that series, I bet Baez reached full extension pointed at RF even if the ball was pulled (early wrist-roll).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think you see this also. But everything bad in his swing happens during his load and separation. Look at how much head movement he has in his stride (guy with white hat behind him), and this isn't among the worst.

  • Cubs should get Baez the "speed hitter"

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Not really, not with all of the glove adjustments, etc. (:-). He's slow to get set.

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    I'm not convinced yet. His problem is not just his long swing but his mindset that every batted ball has to land on the street. I've seen no sign that he's gained any insight into situational hitting, or hitting the ball where it's pitched. Until they happens the only change we're likely to see is less spectacular strikeouts.

  • It feels like he is going through the grief process. Might be onto Acceptance. Exciting news. Hopefully he came to this decision on his own and has buy in. He sounds like he is very coachable. Hopefully he has patients while making the changes.

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    In reply to cub since 89′:

    I'd be interested to hear more about Baez's "coach-ability". I doubt that any competent coach would have encouraged him to have his bat cocked forward to such a radical degree. My point, I doubt this is the first time it's been suggested to lower his hands and cut down on the leg kick. I know he had success with this approach at the lower levels, but they were preparing him to play in the MLB. His swing should have been reworked long ago so he was ready to face big league pitchers, not pound on minor league pitchers. I fully anticipate he'll be starting the year in AAA and he won't be back until he finally shortens his swing. As you might be able to tell, this guy frustrates me. He has mad skills. Hopefully, those skills will allow him to adjust quickly.

    Also, as someone else previously mentioned. His biggest problem might be his pitch recognition. I'm not sure what they are going to do about that, but I imagine they have drills for that too.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    Everything I've heard and observed on a first hand basis tells me he is very coachable What I keep getting is that he has trouble translating that knowledge from the cage to live games.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That would suggest to me that that Baez hasn't trusted the advise he has received in the past or he gets frustrated easily when it doesn't immediately work and reverts back to his old habits. The later being the more likely alternative. I think it would be easier to try to adjust at AAA.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    That is what you may be reading into it, but I have not seen or heard anything to indicate that is the case. Making changes takes time, it takes time to re-train your muscles just just as it takes time re-training your brain to do something. Some pick it up quickly and with others it takes time. As a former teacher, I would never assume a student has a lack of trust or gives up easily just because it took he/she longer to pick up something new. With some you have to stick with it longer, have more patience. Baez has given every indication he wants to make adjustments. He went to Puerto Rico and struggled -- even though he probably could have hit that level of pitching with his old swing.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    "As a former teacher, I would never assume a student has a lack of trust or gives up easily just because it took he/she longer to pick up something new."

    I just assume they're stupid and unworthy of my time. Easier.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha! That may not be the right assumption to make, but it is easier. I'll give you that :)

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That all makes sense. Benefit of the doubt.

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    And I think there may be some component of what you laid out there. I think he does get excited and maybe he forgets things once he is in live action and, to continue the teaching analogy, maybe it is the same as the kid who works hard to study then the excitement of test day comes and he forgets everything he just learned. Like Maddon said, maybe he just needs to learn to relax and slow things down.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Excellent!

  • In reply to Aggravated Battery:

    I feel like his biggest problem is pitch recognition at the MLB level. Also, his swing compounds the recognition issue. I thought it was funny this week they asked Mendy or Soler about MLB pitching and they said something to the effect that MLB pitchers can throw all their pitches at any time during the count. Javy could get away with his swinging style in the minors because the pitchers he was facing allowed him available times to guess better. Now in the Majors he needs every millisecond in order to react and connect or take a pitch because he will never be allowed to guess his way to any everyday position. I think his work ethic is well documented. I'm not saying work ethic = "coach-ability", but I would suspect it = desire to get better. He is finally realizing in order to get better he has to adjust his swing in order to cut down on the K's.

  • I had a college coach that changed my swing between my freshman and sophomore season and he always maintained that 3000 repetitions are needed to create muscle memory. Before muscle memory is created, hitters (or athletes for that matter) are "creatures of habit", always reverting back to old, bad habits in live situations. If these changes Javy is making are to take hold, he has to buy in and accept that he may take 2 steps back in order to take 5 steps forward. He has to focus on the process and not necessarily the immediate results. It is a tough process for a hitter to go through, but ultimately will be extremely rewarding for Javy and Cubs fans.
    Can't wait for this season!

  • In reply to dp22:

    That would describe Javy's situation pretty well. Good stuff.

  • In reply to dp22:

    Amen!

  • I know that this isn't a comparison that most people would want to make but didn't Sammy Sosa lower his hands and become a better hitter? Although it can be argued that PED's inflated his power numbers they didn't make him a better hitter. He had a nose to toes strike zone but he credited Jeff Pentland with making changes to his batting stance that improved his overall hitting. Maybe Baez will lower his hands, do a toe tap, then the pop and a hop and all will be well.

  • In reply to lets go cubs:

    If I recall correctly, at one point, Sosa had his chin resting on his left shoulder as he was crouched over in the box. Later, again IIRC, he started his hands a little above his waist. I could be wrong.

  • Watched Baez extensively at BP today, both "live BP" (vs. Cubs MLB staff and hitting the equivalent of an AB at a time) and "coaches pitch". Here are some observations to my untrained eye:
    1. He has an enormous amount of movement in his swing--far more than any other Cubs hitter.
    2. In live BP (5 AB) he seemed overmatched, registering only one grounder to SS over approximately 20-25 pitches. As far as I could tell, he struck out probably 3 times (once with a wild swing), and may have walked once. The good news is that he took 2 called thirds, rather than wild swinging. (The catcher calls the pitches, and I could not be sure of every call).
    3. In coaches BP, he was clearly experimenting with some new stuff. He and Maddon had about a 10 minute discussion, in which Maddon and Mallee were apparently trying to get him to set up his hands closer to the plate (not necessarily lower). When he did that he made solid contact. But the most interesting variation to me was a turn in which he kept his feet still, while continuing to line balls to all fields.

    Other observations:
    1. Rizzo took Lester deep off the wall on one pitch.
    2. Soler is a monster--hitting deep solid contact to all fields. On one pitch he lined a ball off Rosscup's glove hand, but after examination, Rosscup finished his turn.
    3. LaStella had solid contact to all fields.

    The way the complex is set up, there are four fields in use simultaneously, so it is impossible to take in everything. I stayed at the field where Jed, Theo and Joe were set up behind the batting cage.

    Last observation--Maddon is quite personable and interacts as much as he can with the fans (approx. 200 or so). Especially good with the kids wanting autographs, but he also asked a group of us next to the fence, "how does the team look?"

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Hey. Wthomson......what time do the practices start in mesa?

  • In reply to azcubfan:

    Usually they are in the public areas around 10:20. Carrie Muscat usually posts the overall schedule.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Sorry, Carrie MUSKAT.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Her excellent blog is at http://muskat.mlblogs.com.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Thanks Bill!

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Nice. Thanks for that!

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Thank you for sharing Thomson. Your comment of moving his hands closer to the plate made me think of Sammy, and then I took a look at both swings. Javy's hands are extremely high up, so when you say they moved it closer to the plate, it would definitely be lower than what they were last year. Also, Sammy's and Javy's finish are eerily similar on videos of early Sammy in Texas. The only difference would be to Javy's leg kick. OK Mr. Rickett's, the ball is in your court. ;)

  • In reply to cub since 89′:

    Actually, his hands appeared to be lower than usual, but still "behind" his head. They seemed to want him to move them more away from his body and closer to the plate.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Awesome report. Thank you

  • In reply to Gator:

    Thanks, Gator.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    His "load" and stride create a cornucopia of bad habits. I have been preaching this approach of the "ground up" for some time. Take the big leg kick out, and it will cure almost all of the subsequent habits; bat-wrap, wandering hands, the deep bat drag, barred front arm, really long head movement forward, early wrist roll, etc.

  • OT. Boras coming on WSCR pretty soon.

  • Still do not like that back foot. Baez has so much York. I have read the movement for the back foot is a major flaw.

  • wthomson - thanks for the great update.

    John - as always, thanks for the great insight. As I've mentioned before, this site and the informed / respectful commentors have helped me 'survive' through the dark days the last few years by helping me see the nuances of Theo and Jed's plan before many of my peers. I felt last year like the decision to keep Alcantara up was the point I saw the light at the end of the tunnel...

    Thanks guys

  • In reply to Ziggy Plays Guitar:

    Thanks Ziggy, appreciate that.

  • In reply to Ziggy Plays Guitar:

    Thanks Ziggy. I'll try to do a similar report as often as I can, subject to winter visitors and family obligations.

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    I take this as very positive news. It may take time to find the right exact form, and then get the muscle memory, but it is a step in the right direction. I guess this means La Stella or Alcantara are likely to start at second while Baez refines his craft in Iowa.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I wouldn't say that. He has the same shot as everyone else. It wouldn't surprise if Baez outplayed Olt and they moved LaStella to 3B instead.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I guess he could start in Chicago. But to me, Baez is such a potentially good player, and he's only 22, I would make the decision to give him more time to develop and send him to Iowa.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I've been going back and forth on this. On one hand, I don't want Baez's confidence to be destroyed. I'd like to see an approach similar to Rizzo's.

    On the other hand, im afraid that in AAA, Baez would fall back into his old habits/be reinforced by the larger room for error as a hitter.

    Perhaps the best course of action is extended spring training and then to Wrigley?? He definitely needs the muscle memory. I really think he also needs the constant that the room for error is much smaller at the MLB level. Then again, if he's a guy who "forgets" past abs, that wouldn't really help.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    I've thought about ex ST as well, actually. Keep him focused on what he needs to do.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    As one other smart poster mentioned, and it appears John is onto it also, Baez needs correct reps, not hits. This ext Spring training I think is a good idea. And I did not think of it.

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    To me, where Baez ends up is not just about his development, but whether he is the best option at second. And I'm anticipating that Alcantara will prove to be the better player - at least for this year. And once Bryant comes up and plays third, there won't be room for Javy except on the bench. So let him spend a year in Iowa.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I TEND to agree with you. I personally don't think Baez should be brought up until at least the All-Star Game, if not later. I do like John and the other fellas idea of extended spring training.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    You may be right, but any judgment of "should" really will be based on how he produces over the next 5 weeks (and thereafter, whether at EXST, AAA (or lower) or MLB).

    Seems rash to make any judgment on what is the correct plan "should" be for the period from March 1st through mid July before we have played one spring training game.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    That might be true. But then again in Puerto Rico, and so far in Spring Training he hasn't exactly crushed the ball, and it isn't game conditions. Without changes, he will never succeed. That is both mechanics and approach.

  • I think it's important to note the difference in his current struggles and why compared to his past. Previously, he would struggle early with each promotion as he adjusted to better talent in his competition. Now that same struggle is compounded with a change in his swing. It may very well take him until the all-star break before both struggles are behind him, but that doesn't make him any less of a potential superstar. Let's keep in mind his changed swing isn't the same as listening to coaching about base running or defensive positioning, changing his swing is physically uncomfortable and probably feels similar to trying to sign your name with your weak hand. It'll take time before he gains the necessary muscle memory to see results, so let's enjoy our plethora of other amazing prospects and hold off the bust label for quite awhile.

  • An adjustment to a swing will take a while. Rizzo went through the same thing two years ago when he lowered his hands and shortened his swing allowing greater quickness to the ball and a better ability to hit left handers. He struggled mightily but by keeping the path and trust what he was taught he fought through his problems. Hopefully Baez can do the same with time.

  • Baez needs to spend a little more time in AAA. I mean, what's the rush? The season is going to be plenty interesting even with Baez in AAA. Developing the muscle memory is going to take some time. Maybe a lot of time. I agree with SKMD. It seems to me that he is trying to hit a three run homer with no one on base.

  • In reply to giveittoa kid:

    I think the problem with sending him to AAA is that it will not force him to have to improve. My fear with him is that more AAA baseball would just continue to provide positive reinforcement for his negative batting habits.

    I think the two most important things for him are muscle memory and buy-in. I think extended spring training where he can get specialized work in and work on that muscle memory and then going to the majors where he'll face pitchers talented enough that he can't exploit them with his negative habits is the best course for developing him, but if I was the one with the brains, I'd be working for the team, so what do I know?

  • To me adjusting his swing will take consistency. Over years he has developed this swing. For the brain to recognize new patterns/habits it takes in some cases a full month of daily consistent work. I hope that they follow John's approach states a while ago about measures level of exposure to allow the physical Change to develop his new muscle memory for a quieter swing.

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    Wow. Exactly what I've been saying since I first saw the kid. The shorter you are to the ball, the longer you have to decide. The longer you have to decide, the better your pitch recognition. Problem solved.

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    In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    True, but changing the swing will not stop him from swinging at fastballs going over at his eye level. I like Kevin's idea of just standing in the batters box and calling balls and strikes without swinging the bat. I also still think that getting in the bunt position and following the ball path will help him recognize which pitches are balls and which ones end up in the zone. Once he can master that, then his swing will have a chance. Until then, you can change your swing all you want, but an eyeball high fastball is nearly impossible to drive.

  • In reply to Jeff Wilson:

    It will if it allows him to see the ball earlier. Part of that poor selection you see is from picking the ball up late and having to make too quick a decision on whether to swing. My guess is that Baez can already recognize pitches in a controlled setting where he doesn't have to swing the bat, If he doesn't have to swing, he can keep his head still and just watch the pitcher without having to gear up and create all that movement, which means he doesn't have to commit early. Things change in the ballgame, however, in part because it is the heat of the moment, competitive juices start flowing but also because you simply don't have the same amount of time to watch the pitcher's release because you have to start your swing. And now you have to factor the early movement again, not to mention the variety of different deliveries, some being more deceptive in the way they hide the ball, some change-ups have better arm speed than others.

    Lowering his hands and shortening his swing and eliminating that early movement is a way of trying to simulate that controlled setting by giving him a split second longer to watch the pitcher before he commits -- that is something more practical he can take into ballgames.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Excellent post!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    True enough, that split second actually can make all the difference in the world. Thank you for the well thought out explanation John, I appreciate it.

  • In reply to Jeff Wilson:

    This is a good idea, and I use this drill in coaching, but with one twist. There is what I call "choice" vs. timing the pitcher. If you just stand there and call "yes" or "no" then you get in the habit of not moving until you make the choice. Every time this drill is done, my hitters are forced to complete, load, stride, and come into "connection" (partial rotation, back elbow at the pant seam). That way they are not stagnant and don't start making choices instead of timing the pitcher.

  • I remember having this same discussion two years ago about Brett Jackson. It vlooks to me as if Javy has already lost some of his swagger. It could be awhile before we see him in Wrigley if ever.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Javy is willing to work and change. He will make it eventually but I agree it won't be for a while. I am hoping July time frame. I think Olt is half a season ahead of Javy in terms of adjusting. I think Olt has adjusted his approach and will make the team out of ST.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I remember having discussions on how great Corey Patterson was going to be. It is a shame that we are having the same conversations about Kris Bryant, as that indicates Bryant will not produce better than Corey.

    Or, perhaps, different players are different.

  • He has to learn to be more quiet in the box waiting for the pitch. To much pre-swing movement. This is what I love about Soler, he has a beautiful simple approach.

  • We really need to chill out on Javy. I have no doubt Baez is gonna hit a ton. Because he is a stud. Always has been. We just have to be patient. He'll blossom into a superstar. Maybe not at the age of 21 or 22, but its coming. Just let him play.

    “I just think he will get better, even if he never had another hitting coach tell him anything. He’s still going to get better, because he’s a young player. He’s figuring things out. He’s very talented. “The swing could get lengthy at times. He just needs to understand and know how to shorten things up at the proper time. The best teacher of this game is nine innings of baseball.”

    -- Manny Ramirez on Javy

  • With all the fabulous experts we have here, maybe someone could get a video of Almora's swing and let them all analyze him so he could hit .400

  • In reply to TL Lyon:

    I'd settle for 280.

  • In reply to TL Lyon:

    I can give you an impression, but there isn't near as much to criticize.
    One thing Almora does much better than Baez, is he keeps his weight inside his feet during his load phase. His weight never completely comes back over the top of his back foot. He accomplishes this a little by loading his back foot (slightly turned) which gives a small amount of "coil". Baez shifts the weight entirely over the top of the back foot. Almora creates a temporary imbalance position, which is great. It means his weight shifts back forward quickly, rhythmically, and produces a shorter stride, less head movement. Reducing that high leg kick, and perhaps just moving the front knee almost straight back, "knee-knock" load, would produce even better results. Other than that, he has a great swing.
    The one other nit-pick would be to use his hips a little better, in particular, on inside pitches.

    That is it! He will be a .300 hitter. Not sure about .400 since he is impatient. His swing creates "easy contact" they say. Not always good when you swing and hit bad pitches.

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    It is interesting..."Almora will be a .300 hitter" yet Baez's leg kick will hold him back. But Baez with the bad swing dominated AA at age 20 while Almora did terribly.

    I don't disagree on Baez needing work. He has lots of motion and I believe, like a young Sheffield, it was because he has such a quick swing and he needed things to slow himself down during most of his baseball life. In other words, he is hindered by activities he likely adopted to help him succeed against lesser competition. I don't think he was being overpowered by fastballs due to his movement (his solid at bat against Aroldis comes to mind) and, as mjvz pointed out, his habits at the majors were worse than they were at AA and AAA -- he got into a bad rut.

    I don't doubt Almora's ability, but he hasn't produced anything at the minor league level over a lengthy period. Your analysis is very interesting, but if Baez had produced Almora's 2014 AA numbers during his 2013 Tennessee season, you would have been stating that such failure was due to Baez's faulty swing.

    In my opinion, your statements place too much correlation between swing mechanics and success. Textbook swing is not a failsafe indicator of success...otherwise, we would have been in better shape with Vitters and Kelton while Vlad Guerrero, Varitek, Luis Gonzalez, Giambi, Travis Hafner, Hunter Pence, Adrian Beltre, Johnny Damon, Carl Crawford and Kevin Youklis might never have made it to the majors, much less been extremely successful

  • In reply to springs:

    I can execute every habit imaginable in hitting. I can do a high leg kick and not do the hand movements, bat wrap, barred front arm, and hyper long stride Baez executes. He has COMPILED a list of bad habits. Almora has less hand movement, bat wrap, and as I said above, he keeps his weight "inside his feet". Baez shifts his weight to much which encourages throwing his weight at the pitcher instead of a more "walking" stride; a natural stride. There are big differences. I personally do not think Baez could ever be a .250 hitter in MLB. That is my opinion. Unless he changes. Almora has few real deficits to his swing. Let me say though, I think as a hitter Baez is more talented. But top pitching will always eat him alive without revisions.

    Let me ask you a simple question. I coach women's fastpitch internationally. It used to be called the Olympic Development Program. Now it is just through the ISF and ESF authorities. From Joan Joyce, Kathy Arendsen, Bertha Tickey, Michele Smith, Lisa Fernandez, and Jennie Finch, major leaugers have hit 2 balls fair when hitting off of these pitchers. Both were by Ted Williams, both were popups that didn't leave the infield out of 46 pitches. Finch last threw 20 pitches to Barry Bonds who dribbled one foul ball down the 1B line. Why? The ball does get on them faster than in baseball. Top pitcher Yukiko Ueno at 75mph from 43 feet. But speed isn't the only answer. It is mechanics too. Because baseball players do not have as clean a swing as top women or men players. You can't get away with it. A lot of baseball players have imperfect mechanics, and some succeed, some do not. For every bad swing that makes it, probably 1000 do not. Baez will not! Almora has little to change.

  • In reply to springs:

    I forgot one more big difference I mentioned to John above. Baez releases really deep in the hitting zone instead of keeping his hands in "bat lag" and bringing the rear elbow to the hip. That deep release is an early commitment to the perceived pitch location. "Swing and Miss!" He reduces his observation time doing this. If the hands remain in bat lag, the hands and wrists can change the swing plane. If you ever played baseball, you had a coach that threw up two balls and chose which ball to hit, such as "high" or "low". In a deep release you are not going to be effective doing that.

    And yes, I am sure his habits have gotten worse. The high leg kick allows that. The more time your hands and arms have to wander, the more they can and often do.

  • I would like to see his Zepp analysis and know what his time to impact was with the hand adjustment. My son has. Fast hands and bat speed but is long to the ball. Shortening to time to impact has been a big focus recently.

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    I like the selfies that Javy is taking at Spring Training. He gives off a very assured and upbeat vibe. The one with Rizzo and Bryant truly rocks; I can imagine all three playing together at some point in the future. I'm hoping for some selfies that include Lester, Hendricks, Fowler, and Montero.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Bruce Levine has been preaching that Javy has matured since the end of the season. He seems to be having fun in ST.

  • In live BP today, Baez homered against Bueno, and had a solid hit off Ortiz. His hands appeared somewhat lower and toward the plate, but that leg lift and wide stride makes it very difficult to remain in balance. Other brief notes: Mendy took a walk, Olt and Montero had solid contact against Ortiz, and Chambers had excellent contact in coaches-pitch (best of all the hitters). Russell looked very fluid at 3B, Bryant also looked good at 3rd. The smoothest fielder by far was Jonathan Herrera, who worked out at SS & 3B. The big boys worked out inside Sloan Stadium, which was closed to the public.

    I'm developing a real fondness for Rafael Lopez, who had good contact to all fields (coach-pitch) and even took grounders at 3B, with a catchers mitt, no less

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Thanks for all the updates.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    This is great, Bill! Keep it coming.

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