Apr 1, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox veteran Frank Thomas prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward gets advice from Frank Thomas

When a Hall of Fame hitter speaks, it’s worth a Repeat!

Right before today’s afternoon game, one of the greatest hitters of our time, Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, long-time Chicago White Sox 1b/DH, was discussing Atlanta Braves Jason Heyward‘s 5-tool approach to the game on Fox Sports 1.  Thomas really focused on Heyward’s struggles at the plate because of the other 4 tools being already fully-developed.  Here’s what he had to say:

I’ve been intrigued by this guy ever since he’s come up.  I think he’s a 5-tool superstar.  He’s fulfilled it on defense, fulfilled it on the basepaths, with his arm, but not so much with his bat and I’m going to tell you why.  I think, the big guy, the first thing you see with him he’s fighing against a 6’6 frame.  First thing I’d do is move his hands up, get out of that crouch a little bit, and let his body naturally work.  For me, this guy, if he keeps it simple, try to take it downhill with his approach, you’re going to see the best out of this guy. I really believe he could be a 35-40 HR guy overnight if he could make these simple little adjustments.  I equate it to being a puncher as a boxer.  As a 6’6 boxer, you don’t want to punch here (gut), you want to punch them up top, downhill..

 

This makes sense…on paper.  If Jason were to get out of his crouch, it would create a natural downward plane on his swing which, in turn, would create back spin on the ball causing more DINGERS!  Obviously, easier said than done as Heyward has essentially had the same approach at the plate since entering the league, maybe his entire baseball life.   Hopefully we’ll see Jason fully become that 5-tool star we all know he can….and will be.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Frank Thomas Jason Heyward

  • Lee Trocinski

    The “swinging down to create backspin” logic is ridiculous. If you hit the bottom side of the ball, you will create backspin, no matter the swing plane. Why would you want to swing downward when the pitch is coming downward into the zone? You can look at highlights of Frank and see that he is swinging upward at contact.

    I don’t see an obvious fix to Heyward. I’m thinking that standing off the plate has destroyed any ability to hit inside pitches, which has led to him trying to cheat in and struggling on away pitches. Extension at contact is rarely a good thing, so standing closer to the plate is probably the starting point.

    • Ryan Cothran

      It’s not that he’d be swinging downward, but he’d be on a downward plane due to his hands being in a higher starting position. I don’t find his thought illogical by any means. He’s simply saying that he thinks Jason crouches to get on a level plane with the ball and he needs to let his body and hands do the natural thing and come down to meet the ball from a more natural stance for a 6’6 man.