Jason Bay equals Sadaharu Oh?
Going over my pregame notes, I’m still not entirely sure how Jerry Manuel drifted from the topic of Jason Bay to Ichiro Suzuki to Japanese legend Sadaharu Oh, who hit a world-record 868 home runs over a 22-year career with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Central League. But he did. So I am here to share it with you.
In discussing Bay’s recent struggles at the plate, Manuel mentioned the fact that when Bay swings, he glides forward in the box a bit — similar to the way Suzuki sometimes begins running down the first base line while he is still swinging. For Ichiro, the mechanics work because he manages to stay balanced and generate torque with his swing despite the unorthodox movement. For Bay, the mechanics work — or used to work, at least — because they are far more subtle.
Manuel also mentioned that it’s tough to correct a player like Bay, who has had success in the past with what many might perceive to be a mechanical flaw. The best thing the Mets can do is simply let Bay try to hit his way out of this funk.
“He slides a little bit,” Manuel said of Bay. “You see Ichiro, not to that extreme, but how he kind of drifts and slides to the baseball. There are some guys that can hit that way and get streaky that way, but there are some fundamental things and some absolutes that have to happen while you’re doing that. It’s difficult to recognize if that’s what he’s been doing his career, and being able to hit in that manner. And when you don’t hit in that manner, anybody that has seen the hitter hit says you can’t slide and hit. But he has done that to some degree. That’s what’s kind of troubling sometimes, because you don’t want to take away what he has done and had success at the expense of what you think is a fundamental or mechanical flaw that a lot of people have been able to hit with.”
Manuel went on to discuss the matter of balance, and how it dictates the mechanics of Japanese hitters and pitchers in a way that is not common here. Oh, Manuel said, hit by raising up one leg, remaining balanced, and swinging from that unorthodox position.
Scroll ahead to the 0:25 mark of this YouTube clip, and you can see what Manuel is referring to. What does it have to do with Bay? Well, not a whole lot. But what other opportunity am I ever going to have to tag “Sadaharu Oh” in this blog?