December 19, 2018

Jackie Bradley: "What I’ve Been Taught My Whole Life Is Completely Wrong. It's Scary To Say That."

July 1, 2018. That date may well be remembered as the turning point of Jackie Bradley's career.

Bradley was hitting .198 when J.D. Martinez suggested that his personal hitting coach, Craig Wallenbrock, might be able to help him.
He threw it out there. He said, "This guy really knows what he's talking about." ... J.D. had said how much he helped him and how knowledgeable about the game [he was, and] what it takes to be a pretty good hitter. I was introduced to him right before the All-Star break. ... I'm not trying to bog J.D. down because he also has a job to do, too. ... I wanted to go straight to the source. ... It was definitely starting to work. Things were starting to fall into place. But then also there were times I might have had a good game but I knew I wasn't doing it fully correctly and consistently. ... [T]here is just so much you can do when you're trying to explain things over the phone and show things from a distance.
Bradley posted a .827 OPS in the second half (compared to .647 in the first half). His slugging percentage was 142 points higher in the second half and he raised his batting average 36 points by the end of the year. Bradley had an .835 OPS in the postseason. He was named MVP of the ALCS and knocked in 10 runs in the 10 ALCS and World Series games.

Last month, Bradley spent nearly a week in Los Angeles at Wallenbrock's facility.
This is the first time I heard any of this stuff. What I've been taught my whole life is completely wrong. It's scary to say that, but it's wrong. I feel fortunate enough to make it this far doing it wrong. ... That's the good thing about the offseason, being able to make adjustments and get everything locked in and that can be your main focus because you don't have to compete. During the season there are other things you're thinking about ... I think forming good habits start now. It's night and day. ... [T]o consistently do it, that's the difference. All the great players in the game do certain things pretty consistently and that's what makes them great. ...

We all have the talent. That's the thing. I think once you find a way to maximize the talent, that's what makes players great. Knowing I can hit the ball just as hard as them physically, it all comes down to the way I impact the baseball. Well, I hit too many ground balls so let's solve that problem. Let's get the ball off the ground, get it more in the air, on a line and that way the shifts will be beaten. Actually seeing it person and looking at videos of great hitters who already do it. They all pretty much do it. That's what makes them great. Some might not even know they do it. It's just the natural ability to do it. Other guys do know they are doing it and continuously work on it. I think one of the most difficult things for me is knowing my dominant hand is on the bottom instead of the top. So getting that motion I want down is going to take a little bit more work. But I took to it really quick and I'm happy with the direction I'm going, for sure.
When Alex Cora was asked who he's looking forward to watching in 2019, he did not hesitate:
Looking forward to Jackie the whole season. That's going to be cool. ... [H]e understands who he is now and I don't think the whole -- like the roller coaster Jackie Bradley will happen again. ... [W]ith that offensive approach over 162 games, we'll see what happens.


FenFan said...

This reaffirms my belief that there is no reason to "ban" or "limit" shifts in baseball. To Jackie's point, the players at the major league level have the talent to be there; they just need to be willing to consider new approaches to what they've done to that point. The defense has upped its game to get a better idea how likely a player will hit to any part of the field; now hitters need to determine options to putting the ball where the defense is not. When you're spray chart shows that you can put the ball to any part of the park, you're more likely to be successful.

Gregory Lynn said...

So...117 or bust.

Jere said...

"This reaffirms my belief that there is no reason to "ban" or "limit" shifts in baseball. "

I still can't believe it's a discussion. Fielders give hitters wide open spaces, and people complain on behalf of the HITTERS?? Imagine if NFL defenses decided to only cover the left half of the field? Would offenses say "No fair! That's my favorite side!"? No, they'd just run down the vacant side to the end zone every single time.

johngoldfine said...

JBJ usually does that generic baseball interview that says nothing and offends no one. This was different, refreshing, gutsy.