TORONTO – Travis Shaw wanted to better understand how his swing works in the last off-season. The Slugging Corner infielder, who ran over 800 consecutive OPS seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers, is not a big mechanic nerd, but Info is the latest craze in the game, so he's made a move.
Along with the details came a few suggestions to improve ideas. Shaw says he "took himself to heart" and worked all winter. On the test site of the spring training, he found that the mechanical adjustments resulted in a total failure rather than giving his stroke a turbo charge. He spent the rest of 2019 restoring his original stroke, which generated an OPS + of 121 in 17 and 119 in 18.
When Shaw felt he was going to fix everything, the Brewers moved on, causing them to shut him out on December 2nd. At that point, the Toronto Blue Jays began tracking the 29-year-old, resulting in a $ 4 million one-year contract that closed before the holidays and was closed this week.
He swears that "last year was not the player I am, it will not be the player I will be in the future", which he can prove in 2020 as a primary replacement for the late Justin Smoak at the first base ,
"Apparently it was firing on me backwards," Shaw said of changes in the swing during a conference call on Friday. "I fought my body and myself all year round and tried to go back to where I was two years ago. I felt in a pretty good place at the end of the season and finally started turning around Going back to where I was in previous years, I took it off-season and when I was home for two weeks, I kept beating to make sure I felt like I was staying at the end of the year . "
Shaw's experience is an important warning story as the industry continues to incorporate advanced information, data points, and third-party coaching. While some places like Kyle Boddy’s famous driveline have become leaders in the field, especially when it comes to pitching mechanics, there is a downside that players may also stumble on.
That's exactly what happened to Shaw during a 2019 season that he describes as "about as bad as possible". He fought 0.151 / 0.281 / 0.271 in 270 record appearances over 86 major league games, doing three stints in the Triple A race in San Antonio and caught between his new stroke and the original he was trying to replicate was.
As a result, his starting angle moved from an average of 14.6 to 16.6 degrees from 2015 to 18 to 24.4 degrees last year, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But his pop-up percentage also rose six percent to 16.3, while his whiff percentage increased from 20.4 to 30.2 percent, resulting in exploitable vulnerability in the zone.
Photo credit: Baseball Savant
To diagnose the problem, Shaw watched "a ton of video" and felt corrected himself at the end of 2019 when the Brewers won a National League wildcard. He has been with the Blue Jays since he signed Regularly contacted trainer Guillermo Martinez by phone and text message to discuss what he was doing. In the coming days, he'll start sending videos as soon as he starts fully recording BP.
The goal is for Martinez to act as a visual control and ensure that what Shaw is doing and feeling is consistent. This is a reasonable precaution, considering how easily a beat that didn't work was rooted.
"I think I was too far in," Shaw said, explaining why he had so much trouble getting back to his original swing. "I had practiced so much in the off-season that I had a little muscle memory in that swing, and for some reason it was really hard for me to go back to where I was two years ago. I've been fighting all year round. " Try to get that feeling and I couldn't get that feeling back until later in the season. At the end of September it finally turned a bit around the corner. I haven't had a chance to prove this or to show it has solidified in the game, but physically I'm in good shape, mentally in good shape and I'm looking forward to this new beginning in 2020 and getting things right again go. "
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Shaw will do this as one of the few, at least positioned, player changes in a off-season that focuses on throwing for the Blue Jays. Ace lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson and Shun Yamaguchi have all been added to support large league caliber rotation, and this is where most of the roster upgrade took place.
By replacing Smoak's reliability with Shaw's superiority and defensive versatility – most of his defense work in the majors was in third place, and logging 270.2 innings in second place – the Blue Jays tried one low level to buy medal.
At the same time, the son of another former All-Star star is added to the list, the son of the former Montreal Expos relief, Jeff Shaw, who joined Cavan Biggio, shortstop Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the third baseman, changes.
"This is incredible," said Shaw. "A lot of these people grew up with baseball, grew up in clubhouses like me. It's pretty cool to look at this inner field and see all of the second generation Major League players."
It will be even cooler for the Blue Jays that Shaw resets her after resetting his swing.