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Chase Headley Needs To Kick Batting Woes
- Updated: March 2, 2017
Thus far, the Yankees have started Spring Training in the best way possible. The hitters are scoring runs at a tremendous rate, averaging almost 7 runs per game, while their MLB pitchers have been dominate. On offense, both the MLB starters and prospects have been putting in solid work so far. Matt Holliday is already looking like a great signing, batting .444 in four games thus far. The power has been on display as Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Chirs Carter, Starlin Castro, Jacoby Ellsbury, Greg Bird, and Aaron Judge have all hit at least one home run. Bird had two in one game, demonstrating the power that projects him to be a quality first basemen. With all of the good, Yankee fans should be excited for the upcoming season. However, Chase Headley seems to be still stuck in offseason form.
It might only be the first week of the Spring Training, but Headley’s poor performance thus far should be alarming. In his four games, Headley has 9 at-bats with only 2 hits (one being a double). While 9 ABs is not nearly enough to say he is doing poor, the way he looks at the plate is the alarming part of his spring.
Poor Decision Making
In Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Headley swung at a 3-0 pitch where he weakly flew out to CF. For anybody who does not know, 3-0 is a count where if the batter is swinging, then the ball should be crushed. That is not to say that every 3-0 swing should result in an extra-base hit or a home run, but the ball should have some velocity on it off of the bat. Whether it is a line-drive, foul ball, or a strongly hit ground ball, a 3-0 pitch that is swung at should be stung. If the batter will not strike the ball with that sort of effectiveness, then the pitch should not be swung at. Headley made a poor decision at the plate in that at-bat.
Could Headley have been swinging at it simply to get a swing rather than a four-pitch walk? That could be the case. However, that is practicing a bad habit that Headley does not need heading into this season.
Chase Headley’s Last Spring
The reason why Chase Headley’s slow start should be alarming is how well Headley did last year in Spring Training. Last spring, Headley slashed .234/.260/.298 in 47 ABs. In those 47 ABs, Headley struck out 9 times. Though Spring Training is different than the regular season, it is used to get the players ready for the upcoming season. Headley’s poor performance in the spring carried over to the regular season.
It took Headley 28 games for him to smack an extra-base hit. In his first 28 games, he batted .178/.265/.178 with 4 RBIs. Out of 102 plate appearances, Headley drew 11 walks and 21 strikeouts. Headley’s first month of the season was absolutely dreadful. In those 28 games, the Yankees went 10-18. Other factors were included in that poor record, but Headley was one of the major ones. Headley cannot duplicate another bad spring that leads to a slow start for him at the plate.
Prospect of a Trade
Chase Headley was in the rumor mill throughout the offseason. It was widely believed that the Yankees would move him to continue selling off veterans. Though Headley made it through the offseason, the trading deadline will mark another moment where Headley will be back in the rumors. Headley, who has a year left on his deal after the 2017 season, needs to produce this season if he wants to remain in pinstripes. At the same time, the Yankees need Headley to produce if they want to receive anything worthwhile for him in a trade.
Headley b0unced back from his poor start to put up respectable numbers in 2016. His numbers at the end of the year were average, but were hindered by his poor start. Headley finished the season with a slash line of .253/.331/.325 with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs. If Headley replaces his poor first month with a mediocre start (a .250 batting average), his season batting average could have been .268. Baseball is a sport of droughts and catching fire, but Headley’s drought was downright awful. He had a four-month stretch where he batted .276/.347/.435 last season. That is the Headley that the Yankees need to start out the regular season. Not the current Headley who looks lost at the plate.
Others Might be Struggling, But Headley is Alarming
Headley does not look confident and his swing does not look right. While there are other Yankees who have poor batting numbers (Carter, Sanchez, and Hicks), Headley is alarming because of the way he is getting to those numbers. Sanchez and Hicks have struck the ball solidly this spring. Chris Carter is an “all-or-nothing” player, which Headley is not.
Headley needs to figure his Spring Training woes out before Opening Day. It is vitally important to the success of this year’s team. If Headley is not quite making the grade, Miguel Andujar might be seeing some MLB time at 3B this season.
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