Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training, and I am happy to see baseball finally starting to get underway again. As the players are getting ready to start the campaign, some of them seem to be in great shape already. For some, they seem to have made major physical changes over the winter. For others, perhaps they are coming off of an excellent performance in winter baseball, and they are looking forward to a huge season potential.
Either way, they are in some type of great shape, and I want to give you five examples of this.
I know there is some debate as to how much weight he actually lost, but there is no doubt if you look at this picture of Pablo Sandoval published by Katie Dowd on SFGate.com, he definitely is in much better shape than he was last season.
He has a sweet swing even though he underperformed last year, and being more mobile will only help him both on the base paths and in the field. If he does rebound at the plate like he probably will, and if he is able to reap the benefits of his newfound physical fitness, you should see improvements in several different dimensions of his game.
Emilio Bonifacio showed something interesting at the Caribbean Series while he was representing the Dominican Republic. He showed some plate discipline that has always been a struggle for him. Last season, he drew 30 walks in 136 games. By comparison, in his five games in the Caribbean Series, he drew six.
I don’t necessarily want to exaggerate this result because it was only five games, and I know that the competition was not always on the same level as what he will see during regular season. However, if he is starting to develop a little more discernment, his on-base percentage will improve and he will be able to utilize his base stealing ability.
Albert Pujols has had a difficult time since moving to Los Angeles, but when he reported to spring training this season, he seemed to be in great physical shape. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Pujols has dropped seven pounds and appears to be fully recovered from his left heel and right knee injuries.
Prior to his injuries, he was arguably the best player in baseball, and while he is getting older and might not hit that pinnacle again, there is no doubt being healthy would put them in a much better position going into the 2014 season.
Trevor Bauer has had an interesting career. He tore up the minor leagues with tons of strikeouts and low ERAs. However, when he hit the major leagues success just didn’t seem to be in the cards, and 2013 was difficult in general for him. Mainly, he lost his control. Hopefully though, that is a thing of the past.
According to Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com, Bauer showed up at spring training with a new delivery that appeared strong in his first bullpen session. Obviously, he still has to prove he can live up to some of the hype that formerly surrounded him as a prospect of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it seems he is taking a step in the right direction.
Ryan Howard is “at one hundred percent, finally” according to an interview general manager Ruben Amaro gave to 94WIP Morning Show (h/t CBS Philly). He has already been down at spring training for the past few weeks working out and preparing for the upcoming campaign according to the same source.
He has dealt with some relatively severe injuries, and it is a great sign for obviously himself and the Philadelphia Phillies if he is finally going to get back to driving in over 100 runs this season. His productivity was not great last season, but that can change if he remains as healthy as he seems to be right now.