Joe Maddon told Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper that Chili Davis has been working with Javy on “a couple of things.” Would that mean Maddon put Chili on a hot dog, and can we already see the effects the new coach is having on the electric infielder? Yep. Well, to the last part anyway.
Before Javy unraveled his bat last season, he had a wide base at the plate and sat relatively deep in his stance. A leg kick initiated his movement and his barrel whipped through the zone. That led to moon shots that spurred “oohs” and “ahhs” from even visiting fans.
After working with Davis this spring, however, Javy looks more upright and his base isn’t as wide. Look again at the side-by-side comparison between a recent at-bat in Arizona and Javy’s homer in last year’s NLCS.
In the 2016 World Series run, Javy surprisingly increased his contact rate to 72.2 percent, which is actually not too far away from the league average of around 78 percent. But last season, that contact dove down to 65.5 percent. However, Javy did hit have a better HR/PA in 2017 (0.045) than he did in 2016 (0.031). It’d obviously be pretty sweet if he can keep the homer rate up and make more contact, though, since doing so would launch him into that superstar echelon.
Maybe the mechanical changes are Davis’s way of helping the free-swinging Javy to better identify and locate pitches better and, as a result, make more contact. But it’s definitely something worth watching as the season starts.