Javier Baez Changes Feet, Swing in Effort to Get Back to Chicago

I sometimes dread Mondays. Today, on the other hand, the sun was shining with only a week of school left to teach, and the big league Cubs were not playing. That meant I would get to devote all my attention to the South Bend Cubs tonight. Got home, ate supper, fed the dogs, turned on the computer only to find no MiLB.TV in Lansing. So, I would settle for the @SBCubsRadio feed.

In the meantime, when the Iowa Cubs came on at 7, I fired up the MiLB.TV feed just to have something to watch with the sound off. When Javy Baez came up, I was excited to see him live.

The first thing I noticed was that something didn’t look the same with his stance. His bat was quieted down a lot, that was different; when he hit a single to right, he just flicked his wrists and the ball dribbled in the hole for single. It was very un-Javy-like – it was not a bullet.

I did some research on his feet positioning. It doesn’t sound sexy, but it would explain a lot.

I went back and looked at some of his at-bats from last year and, sure enough, there it was in all its glory in 2014 – Javy was planted in the middle of the box in a semi-open stance. I found another homer and other examples from last year, and in each case it was the same. This stance was just one of many reasons why he wasn’t able to reach the pitches down and away.

In 2015, Javy Baez stands on top of the plate in a semi-closed stance, with his toes almost on the line of the batter’s box. It is not complex, nor is he the first to stand there. But what this stance does is to give him much more coverage and a better view of the plate. It explains why he was able to do what he did in the first inning of last night’s game. It explains why is taking more walks. It’s not rocket science, it’s just baseball.

And, the stance still lets Javy be Javy. He still swings ferociously at times, and I don’t think that it is ever going to stop. However, the stance also allows him to have a better vantage point on breaking stuff away. The pitch he hit in the first inning tonight would have been rolled over and grounded out or swung on and missed by 2014 Javy. I think I am going to enjoy watching him develop a new approach to go with his new stance.

 

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