It’s late and I was in bed when I saw this, so I’m only providing very brief commentary and analysis on this first look at Jason Heyward’s new swing. It does appear that he’s really quieted down the hands pre-swing and that there’s not nearly as much action in the load. He is, however, still bringing the hands up and in after starting from a lower position. And while the toe-tap remains absent, there’s a body hitch that he’s presumably using as a timing mechanism.
I worry that the hands, while not moving around in space, are sort of wrenching the bat as Heyward is swinging. That was a problem last season and struck me as a physical manifestation of his mental state. Those hands are working against one another, not to mention the hitter himself, if that’s the case. That said, this looks far better — smoother, more compact — to me than what we saw throughout most of the 2016 regular season. Obvious caveats about batting practice and short video clip apply here, so take all of this for what you will.
And if you’d like to see this new swing compared to the old one in side-by-side fashion:
— Corey Freedman (@CFCubsRelated) December 20, 2016
We can discuss this at greater length another time, but it’s really cold downstairs and I’m in my underwear. G’night, y’all.
Ed. note: I’ve slept and been to see Rogue One since posting this, so I wanted to share some additional thoughts. The first is that the video was posted to Instagram by former major leaguer Darnell McDonald, who just happens to be the Cubs’ mental skills coordinator (he’s also the creator of the yoga bear shirt you see Heyward and other players wearing). We could look at McDonald’s affinity for Instagram and conclude that he just wanted to show folks what Heyward is doing while repping his shirts at the same time.
Well, the first of those things is certainly true. McDonald was absolutely trying to show the world that Heyward is indeed putting in the work he committed to when he bought a home in Mesa. But I think we can infer that the coach’s presence at the workouts is an indication that Heyward is working on the psychological side of his game as well. Spare me the talk of his massive salary and how he should have been better, that’s really not serving any purpose in this conversation.
The fact of the matter is that this guy could have taken the money and run, could have chosen to try to fix things on his own. Admitting that you need help often takes more strength than going it alone, and for that I commend Heyward. The Cubs didn’t pay this guy solely — or even mostly — because of his bat, but a return to even close to career-average numbers would mean a big addition for the team.
My final thought is that it’s interesting to see how many of you out there have differing opinions on the changes, seemingly split between good and bad. The thing to remember here, the real key in all of this, is that we’re still several weeks out from seeing this in live action. The video isn’t a tour of your new home, it’s the curing concrete of your new foundation with the framing just starting to go up. Maybe let him get the thing trimmed out and painted before you really start in on the conclusions.