Jake Bauers is a strong young guy, though that “young” is probably the operative word at this point in his career.
At just 23 years old, he’s the youngest player on the team and two years younger than the next youngest position player, Jordan Luplow. For that reason alone, early struggles like he had in the second half last year or for the first couple games of the season are more than expected. There’s no reason to expect him to become a latter day Adam Dunn or anything like that, and it’s still very early, so there’s not a lot to draw from. But the last couple days have been ... interesting in the development of Bauers as a power hitter.
Obviously, there was the home run in Detroit the other day, and the double to the top of the wall over the weekend. We all know he’s strong as a teenage bull. Seriously, look at this bomb he laid upon a hapless Detroit hurler.
I could watch that all day. That delightful parabola.
That’s why the deal was made to move Yandy Diaz to the Rays for the young slugger. The strength as much as the launch angle.
Admittedly, the comparison thus far has been decidedly in the Rays’ favor. Diaz is hitting the ball all over the park and right now Bauers is deep dancing around the Mendoza line. It’s a bit of a buzzkill. At the same time, Diaz is currently being outhit by the likes of Freddy Galvis and Kolton Wong. We know the issue. Nothing is real right now, at least when it comes to stats we care about. What is real, though, is how guys are hitting the ball. Or rather, how hard they are.
Bauers started off real bad the first couple games, looking just over-matched, but over the series with the Blue Jays and now against the Tigers he’s started to turn on the power.
Bauers recent exit velocities
Now, you could certainly poo-poo this as feasting on bad pitching, and it probably is. But that’s what good hitters should do, and it’s how young guys get used to facing major league pitching in general. After all, even bad major league pitchers are great in the minors. It’s good for Bauers to get the chance to face these guys and feel success.
Again, this isn’t a statement of who he is now, it’s simply a hint of what he could become. Bauers has demonstrated a solid eye at the plate — his 13.9 percent walk rate was 20th in baseball last year — and we see the power. He’s strung together a couple games worth of well-struck balls and can plainly elevate the hell out of the ball. There’s flaws to his game that need mitigating, but at 23 there is a glimpse here, an idea of what could be.
That alone is why he’s an Indian today.