They say Baseball is a game of adjustments. You have to constantly adjust because your opponent is doing the same thing, almost like a cat and mouse game.
For a few seasons, Vernon Wells lost himself â getting away from the player that earned a seven-year $126 million contract with Toronto. Seemingly in a downward spiral, Wells was relegated to the fifth outfield spot on the Angels coming into this season, where he would play out his contract and retire after the â14 season.
From 2002 when he became an everyday player, up until 2010 â his last year with Toronto â Wells averaged 25 homers and 89 RBIs while hitting .279. In his two seasons with LA, he averaged 18 homers, 48 RBIs and a weak .222 avg.
Coming into 2013 at the age of 34, Wells decided a change was necessary. He had become so pull-conscious and homer-happy, his swing was out of whack. He had become a feast or famine type guy, who almost always pulled the ball. According to an article written by Dave DâAlessandro of the Newark Star Ledger, Wells was quoted as saying: âItâs not about power numbers â itâs about my swingâŚ Itâs about being a good hitter and homers coming off that.â
Wells then looked at a lot of tape of himself, even going back to when he was a 20 year-old in 1999. âThe reason I slipped was glaring: It was my point of contact. It was so far out in front of me, the only thing I could do was pull the ball and roll over them,â Wells said in the story.
Wells has closed his stance a bit, moved closer to the plate and is more balanced and low, which enables him to hit balls the opposite way. By noticing his point of contact was out in front of him, he is now letting the ball travel deep into the zone.Â The improvement was seen in Spring Training, as he hit .333 with 4 homers and 12 RBIs in 17 games.
The success has spilled over into the regular season; coming into tonightâs game with Cleveland, Wells is hitting .381 with 2 homers, 4 RBIs and a .500 OBP. In Yesterdayâs win over the Indians, Wells had three hits â all of them going to right field. Last year, he accumulated 3 hits ALL season the other way. Usually youâll hear hitting coaches say that when a guy is going the other way with pitches, he is locked in and seeing the ball really well.
Wellsâ patience has also improved. Last yearÂ in 262 PAâs, Wells walked only 16 times. So far already with the Yankees,Â inÂ 26 plate appearances, he has walked five times â a much better pace. This means he is seeing the ball clearly, and not chasing out of the zone.
Although his current pace is most likely unsustainable over the course of a full season, the Yankees are benefiting from Wellsâ adjustments. It is a small sample size to judge a player on (7 games) but the quickness in his bat is evident.
To illustrate just how different Wellsâ approach is, here is a picture comparing his stance from 2010 (.273, 33 homers, 88 RBIs with TOR) 2012 (.230, 11 homers, 29 RBIs with LA) and this season with the Yankees. Wells has gone back to what made him successful in Toronto. For the Yankees and their fans, they hope the results continue.
Photo courtesy of twitter: @YankeeSource