Javy Báez needed to blast two home runs against the Detroit Tigers during Monday’s game. He needed validation that his newfound control at the plate would yield results. I needed those homers too because it sucks to see Javy struggle.
“I know I have been struggling,” said Báez said after his two-homer game. “But I don’t stop working. I don’t stop trying to get better.”
What exactly has that work entailed? Part of the answer is patience against high fastballs. But while he has successfully narrowed his zone, he hasn’t hit the pitches he normally crushes.
Javy’s swing rate against high fastballs has dropped dramatically this season compared to last. He normally swung at around 90% fastballs thrown towards his chin, but now he’s only swinging at about 75% of those same high pitches.
One possible consequence, though, is that Javy hasn’t hit high heat when he has swung. Last season, he averaged well over 90 mph exit velocity against high heat. This season, he’s only averaging around 85 mph exit velocity against the same fastballs.
So is Javy’s newfound patient approach to blame for weaker contact? Only Javy and his coaches could answer that for sure and the weak contact might be a random coincidence. But if Javy sustains this patient approach while showing the same exit velo from recent seasons, look out, MLB.