One of the biggest Indians stories coming into the season was Bradley Zimmer’s new look. He was hitting bombs of an empty Progressive Field during intrasquad games and turning heads with his newfound power.
You used to be able to beat him all day [with] inside high heaters in the strike zone. He’d never get to them because of how long he is. Then bringing those arms in and get into his legs because the kid’s all legs, he’s gonna be a dangerous, dangerous player with that speed.
That’s what Mike Clevinger had to say about Bradley Zimmer when the center fielder was in the midst of tearing up his own team’s pitching throughout Spring Training 2.0. Clevinger also took to calling him “an Avatar”, in reference to the gangling alien creatures in James Cameron film of the same name. That’s not necessarily important to this particular analysis, but it’s important for something, I’m sure.
Six games and 16 PA is obviously too small a sample to make any conclusive determinations about Bradley Zimmer’s new look, but it’s enough to observe that he has indeed made some changes.
First, a couple stills to get an idea of what he’s doing different before a pitch is even thrown.
My back hurts just look at this picture.
In 2018, Bradley Zimmer had his hands up above at almost shoulder height and his legs wide open. This should be a familiar stance to anyone who watched Bradley Zimmer coming up through the minors and his first couple seasons in the majors where strikeout issues plagued the early years of his career.
He’s far more compact in 2020. His hands are lower and are a totally different angle, and his legs are more closed and in-line with the plate. It all goes back to what Clevinger mentioned in his pre-season analysis of his teammate shortening his swing and drawing more power from the Redwoods sprouting out of his torso.
(Note: His 2019 stance is not pictured because it was clearly a call for help and best left forgotten).
What about in motion?
The two swings don’t look all that dissimilar outside of 2020 being a bit less clunky with a more pronounced stride. Which, who knows, that would be all the difference he needs to not get eaten up inside?
As far as those inside pitches go, Zimmer has seen 10 pitches up and in — either off the plate, or in the inside corner of the zone. He has fouled one off, swung and missed at another, and was hit by one. The other seven were called strikes or balls.
He still has a lot of work to do, as does every batter getting up to speed in this bizarre season, but so far on the season he has three hits, including his first home run since 2018. Best of all, for the first time in a long time, he’s healthy with a chance to prove he can stick around.
Just stop running into walls.