Everyone wants to know, what's the secret to Mike Yastrzemski's emergence?
The Giants' breakout outfielder spent seven seasons in the minor leagues before making his MLB debut last year at 28 years old. He hit just 10 home runs in the minor leagues in 2018, and his career high was 15 the season before. And then, the grandson of a Hall of Fame slugger turned into a powerful star, hitting 21 homers in 107 games for the Giants last season.
It all started with the perfect change of scenery, and Yastrzemski being sick of the player he was being labeled as.
"I used to be like a slap hitter," Yastrzemski said Wednesday morning on MLB Network. "I'd be a guy who just tried to get on base, steal bags, play good defense. I finally told myself I didn't want to limit myself. I started working on swing changes and one of the things that I thought about was really getting the zone early and staying the zone as long as possible. I used to have a lot of issues hitting the inside pitch. I'd kind of rip my hands through the zone and not give myself any chance of hitting it. Now, I found a good path and just started to work off it.
"And having people in your corner that really believe in you, and tell you your swing is gonna work, is huge too and it's not overlooked."
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Yastrzemski believes getting a good pitch and being aggressive once it comes still are the two biggest keys to hitting. It sounds simple, it still works and it always will. But he has changed his beliefs on what he always was taught as a kid. Coaches always told him to hit with his hands. It's not that simple, though, especially for someone listed at 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds.
To be more than a slap hitter, Yastrzemski needs to focus on how he can generate power from his slender frame.
"In terms of technical aspects, I was always told to hit with my hands," Yastrzemski said. "As a smaller guy, someone who's not super big or strong, that doesn't really make sense. If you want to hit the ball harder, you have to use your entire body.
"So, finding a way to use my legs more, my shoulders more, my hips more."
Yastrzemski is off to a slow start in August. He's hitting just .189 this month after an absurd .414 clip over eight games in July. He does have two homers this month after two long balls last month as well, though.
While watching his walk-off splash hit against the San Diego Padres, Yastrzemski was asked about what he focuses on with his direction towards the baseball. Once again, he showed how he has evolved as a hitter.
"My back shoulder," he said. "Think about that back shoulder coming through dead-center field. You see that extension. That extension comes through my backside as opposed to thinking just rip my hands through. So my hands are almost the last thing to fire.
"They're following along for the ride, and when you have the ability to clear your hips first, then you have all the space for your hands to work."
Yastrzemski is one of the best stories in baseball. He's much more than just his last name. He has turned into a star, and this was a great look into the mind of someone always finding ways to improve at the plate.