Wil Myers did not have a good 2014. The 2013 AL Rookie of the year followed up his impressive debut season with a major sophomore slump, hitting only .222 with a meager slugging percentage of .320. This was after hitting .293 and slugging .478 the year before. In almost exactly the same number of games, Myers saw his extra base hits drop from 36 to 20, his home runs from 13 to 6.
While he did sustain a stress fracture last year that forced him to miss the entire month of June and half of July, Myers was equally bad before and after the injury.
Myers has succeeded at every level of baseball he has ever played. Big things were, and are still, expected from the powerful right-hander. Why, then, was he so bad last year?
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Alec Dopp at Gammons Daily has an interesting take. Using video to compare Myers’ 2013 and 2014 swings, Dopp noticed that Myers’ front leg kick, which the hitter uses as a timing mechanism, has a slightly different landing spot from one year to the next. As his left leg came down in his successful rookie year, it landed right in front of his body. In his poor 2014, it landed a little further behind Myers.
This opened up his swing, and according to Dopp, created two reasons for Myers’ failure to drive the ball with as much authority. First, he could no longer generate as much power with his hips, and second, his core muscles were not in as strong a position to attack the ball. This caused Myers to be more off-balance, which took away much of his power and consistency, and resulted in far more popups than the previous year.
Dopp’s article is interesting, and is well worth a read. And he gives us something to watch for in Spring Training. If you see Myers popping up a lot rather than driving the ball, watch where that front foot is landing. Let’s hope that he and new hitting coach Mark Kotsay can correct the problem before the games start to count.