The Rundown: Notes on Heyward’s New Swing

At the risk of turning you away with constant personal anecdotes, I feel the need to complete the circle when it comes to the story that’s been threaded through my ledes over the past few days. Friday was cleaning our home up because it had just hit the market. Saturday was having received an offer and accepting it. Today, I’ll tell you that we placed an offer on another home and had it accepted.

Which means I was in celebratory mode last night. As such, I’m going to lean heavily on insight from fellow Cubs Insider Brendan Miller to provide the analysis that follows. Besides, that’s what blogs do, right, take other people’s work? Well, of course not, but Brendan’s sleeping soundly a couple time zones to the west and won’t be able to publicly share our Facebook Messenger convo until much later.

As you know by now, Jason Heyward has been hard at work crafting a new swing this winter. Saturday’s opener was our first look at the new move against live pitching, so Corey Freedman, our resident video whiz, put together one of his famous side-by-side clips to offer a comparison.

My initial reaction was that the swing plane looks pretty similar, a thought reinforced by the results: a couple pops to center and a grounder to second. But it was evident that Heyward’s hands were lower and farther from his body, a clear attempt to prevent that handcuffed motion that saw both elbows seemingly pinned in and his hands staying in tight.

After watching the video a few times, however, Heyward’s hands look to be in better position. There’s also the matter of his lower half, which seems to be much less wonky — that’s a scientific term that I just don’t have time to explain here. But upon even further review, Brendan spotted a tell of sorts, a way to judge what could be a very significant positive change.

“I found a really easy way to evaluate Heyward’s swing,” Miller messaged. “Same batting gloves — notice how we see more red on the right? Also consider that one of the believed reason he sucked last year was because of a messed up, last-second grip change. Grip is different, bat isn’t as wrapped.

“Vid timing is slightly off, but those two pics (below) are right at the point of his stride touching the ground. Angle on the right is more towards home plate too, so if we got the same exact angle at wrigley, we’d see more red (on the gloves). His grip is more wrapped in that first pic. The bat angle is clearly different as a result.”

In order to provide you a visual of what Miller is explaining, take a look at a still image from that video clip and then zoomed-in snaps of each of the individual halves. It’s admittedly a little blurry, but I think it will suffice for our purposes.

We’re talking about a grainy look at a small sample, but it does show promise. If Heyward can maintain the separation of hands and body and stop looking like he’s trying to wring water out of the handle of his bat, we could see significant improvements in production.

More news and notes

  • I’m tired
  • Check the home page for recaps of yesterday’s game; mine was super-serious
  • IU beat Northwestern on a late and-one dunk
  • Lots more to come today
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