Do you know how many times in baseball history a guy has gone 2-for-2 with two homers and a walk in spring training? I don’t either. It’s not really a kind of record that people compile. Heck, MLB.com doesn’t even have spring training stats from before 2006 because really, who cares?
I’ll tell you who. Me. Because Yu Chang did just that yesterday, blasting a pair of pitches to all ends of Arizona, demonstrating the kind of power that I thought was reserved for Franmil Reyes. Chang is a long shot to even make the team at this point, what with all the log jams of mediocrity at the few positions that do have a battle going on. This is the kind of thing that can open some eyes, though, because everyone loves dingers.
Chang is the kind of player that just makes you wonder what Cleveland has in its farm system, both because he’s one of a million middle infielders with intriguing tools, and because we’ve only seen dribs and drabs of him. Even last year, after he’d supposedly gone home following the 2019 season to overhaul his swing, we only got a glimpse because of the oddity of the 2020 season. Is he good now? Can he finally become the player that hit 24 homers for Akron back in 2017?
Check out this home run from 2018, which I’ve had saved on my computer for reasons:
It’s a quick one, but look closer at how he’s standing as the pitcher comes out of his windup:
Pretty upright, open stance, not quite getting into his leg kick.
Now look at his first homer from yesterday:
Again, look at how he’s prepared himself:
Look, I’m not a swing doctor. The adjustments a batter makes to go from Quad-A to major league starter are minute to the untrained eye. But this seems like something. His stance is a bit more closed, he’s bent over, and there’s less movement in general in the swing. And when he makes contact, his hips are a bit more open. Here’s from 2018:
Here’s from 2021:
Is it shadow and a slightly different camera angle playing with us? It’s possible. My frame-by-frame look at it seems like he’s gotten lower in his stance, and is generating a bit more power, more fluidity to the swing. By opening up quicker, he’s unlocking more energy and delivering more force to the ball. Power wasn’t his only problem in the past, but if he can consistently put a blast on the ball, that helps paper over other issues.
It’s a few at-bats against two middling prospects that might or might not be something for the Brewers. It’s barely March. It’s also the first game I’ve seen in months. I’m going to sit here and overreact.
If you want to join me, there’s plenty of room.