Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: Barry Bonds is Coming To Town!

As reported by our great beat writers (links to the right), Barry Bonds will be coming to the Giants spring training camp this year.  As another writer (I think Yahoo) noted, he will conveniently arrive after his ol' buddy Jeff "Motorcycles Are the New Truck" Kent leaves the camp after his stint as instructor is over.  The writer also interviewed Kent and, of course, he said something quite convoluted which basically bashes Bonds by what's not being said than by what's being said.   Which means the same old, same old thing, as Kent is great for a quote for the media again and for bashing Bonds in some way.  Still, both were great players in their own rights, and it's nice that both are coming in, unpaid, and helping out the current players.


ogc thoughts

I think it's great that Bonds is coming to camp.  He's one of the greatest hitters in history, nobody can take that away from him, and he demonstrated that throughout his career.  The example I would give is that here he is, reportedly Mr. Ego, and the season after the disappointing World Series when he didn't win, he sought out a player on the other team, Eckstein, who is probably the opposite in every way from what Bonds is, and, again, part of the team that cost him the championship he desired, when they were travelling through Asia together for games and game ambassadorship, and asked David how he handled the bat in certain situations.  He asked Eckstein for hitting tips!

And a great hitter is brim full of advice and tips and techniques that can help anyone.  I've read many a story of how Bonds would analyze his hitting mechanics, first with his father's help, then on his own once his father passed.  So he could be the hitting ninja for the Giants much in the way that Tidrow is our pitching ninja, coming in and fixing players by giving great advice.  That will probably come once his personal service contract that was a part of his last contract with us kicks in, I think we got him for 10 years under that, but I expect that to be a lifetime thing if he wants it, much like with Mays and McCovey.

As an example of how this can help is a story about the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, Teddyball Williams.  Ted wrote the book on hitting - "The Science of Hitting" - which I love and recommend to anyone who wants to learn how to hit.  He hit for power and he hit for average and he took a lot of walks too.  He also took no bull from anyone.  He was the Bonds of his era, really.

So during the 1960's the Senators thought he would make a good manager so they hired him.  Unfortunately for his managerial career, Williams didn't care a whit about pitching, from reports I had read, and that made for a short managerial career for him.  Looking at the teams he got, he also unfortunately was on the tail end of one era, and presided over the inclusion of new young prospects, never an easy task for the best managers.  In any case, he loved to hit and he spent a lot of his time tutoring his hitters on the art and science of hitting.

It paid off.  In 1968, the Washington Senators had an OPS+ of 92, very below average lineup, they hit .224/.287/.335/.623 while the league average was .230/.297/.339/.637.  In 1969, he helped boost them to an OPS+ of 103, an improvement of 11 (remember, a team OPS+ of 110 is usually among the best in the league, so that was quite a jump), and they hit .251/.330/.378/.708 while the league average was .246/.321/.369/.690 (that was the year the mound was lowered to boost offenses).

And speaking of paying off, Bruce Bochy appears to be pretty good as a hitting coach as well.  A study looked into the hitting of players before and during their time with their new manager, and found that hitters improved their hitting, on average, one WAR when they joined a Bruce Bochy managed team.  So good instruction can definitely pay off.  And, nothing against Bochy, but I think Bonds can help that much as well, if he's assisting with hitting instruction.

I look forward to Bonds coming in and showing our guys what he has learned and him observing and providing advice to hitters on what to do to improve.  Belt would be the most obvious guy to benefit, given that he's our lefty power hitter, but Posey said (report by Schulman) that he's looking forward to talking shop with Bonds about hitting, and picking up something.  Much like Bonds, Posey realizes that he's not perfect, that there's something to be learned from picking the brains of others, particularly other great hitters.  And wouldn't it be great if Posey could take it up another level, we forget, but he's still only 27 YO for the 2014 season, he's still approaching his prime.

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