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Thanks to the wonders of technology and e-friendship, BN’er Eric sent me a couple videos from Mesa showcasing Brett Jackson in the cage – complete with his new swing. We’ll see it in action soon enough, but for those of you champing at the bit to get a peek, here you go.

The first video:

And the second:

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    I hope he can be rizzo 2.0.

    • Chad

      I’d like to see Rizzo for more than 3 months in the Bigs before I hope that other players become like him.

  • Duffy

    Looks like he’s taking a much shorter path to the ball; I’m excited to see what it looks like against live pitching.

    • SouthernCub

      looks like he’s out on that front foot just a lil’ bit

      • MichCubFan

        I was thinking the same thing

  • Cub Style

    Looks like he’s actually going opposite field in the second video!

    • Scotti

      Brett Jackson has ALWAYS used the whole field–even last year. He does a lot of things right (taking pitches, using the whole field, etc.). What he struggles with is over-selectivity and, somehow, he picked up the Rizzo grip last year which works if you’re a pull hitter who struggles with high/tight cheese (Rizzo changed the grip for that reason) but it does NOT work if you actually try to hit the other way.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        Over-selectivity?
        His struggle is making contact.

        • Ivy Walls

          young, anxious, willing…if has real talent he will produce

  • Corey

    Wow, it looks much smoother and shorter.

    • Spriggs

      Definitely not what she said.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Lulz.

  • gratefulled

    Well, looks and sounds good to me.

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    I have no eye at all for this stuff, but it looks pretty good to me!

  • funkster

    Is that Jed watching?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes.

  • COW142

    His bat is much lower in his stance to get it started quicker that is for sure. Much like Rizzo’s adjustment. I would love to see a side by side comparison to last year. I am sure we will get to see that at some point. He did look to be out on the front foot a bit on a few swings. But that is better than hanging on the back foot like he was so often on third strikes last season. I see a lot of reasons to be optimistic here. The good news is that he seems to be teachable and that has to be 100% of the battle! I love the way the new regime does things!

  • http://worldseriesdreaming.com/ Rice Cube

    Looks like he popped one up there but otherwise pretty good.

  • ETS

    “champing at the bit to get a peak”

    to get a peek?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      How do you spell “champing” correctly and then biff on peek? I suck. Gracias.

      • Spriggs

        Champing or chomping are both acceptable. Per my Oxford.

        • hansman1982

          Ya, I guess chomp is more used to describe things that are eaten. Champ is when you chomp without swallowing…

          Wouldn’t want Brett to champ on this bit:

          [/img]http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Exquisite-Very-Old-Hand-Forged-Cruel-Crown-Port-Severe-Horse-Bit-MAKE-AN-OFFER-/00/s/NDgwWDY0MA==/$T2eC16JHJIkE9qU3iyUjBQCcIpFEqg~~60_35.JPG[/img]

          My dad has one that is far more severe than this, though. It looks like someone took a chainsaw blade and attached it to two metal rings. That had to have taken one grumpy horse to use.

          • hansman1982

            image fail:

            [img]http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Exquisite-Very-Old-Hand-Forged-Cruel-Crown-Port-Severe-Horse-Bit-MAKE-AN-OFFER-/00/s/NDgwWDY0MA==/$T2eC16JHJIkE9qU3iyUjBQCcIpFEqg~~60_35.JPG[/img]

        • Internet Random

          “Champing” is preferred, and Brett is teh awesomezz.

      • ETS

        you must not have gotten Epstein’s memo last week, but he wants EVERYONE in the organization to pay attention to their grammar. ;)

    • Tom A.

      Chomping at the bit to get a peek — He likes the vowel “a” in both cases.

    • Patrick W.

      Hey, he got “champing” right.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Has freed his hands and arms up, still has the great bat speed. He has go to work on keeping his head more stationary, still to much movement. Changes the eye level, this has been one of his big problems with past contact issues.

    • bails17

      “He has go to work on keeping his head more stationary, still to much movement.”

      If this were the case, you wouldn’t want to hit like Miguel Cabrera or Robby Cano. They both have a lot of head movement. It’s reallly not about that IMO…I think he simply had too long of a swing. By lowering his hands and keeping them a little closer to his body, he should be considerably shorter to the ball. Whether or not he can make it work against live pitching is all together another story.

    • Cedlandrum

      His head moves a bit on the load, but in his actual swing I think he did a nice job of keeping it on the level. It is a bit hard to tell because of the length of the shot, but I was actually pretty pleased with where his head and especially his eyes were during swing and contact. Now that said it could all change when they start breaking them off.

      • King Jeff

        I was thinking the same. He was like a bobble head at times last season, and he kept his head and eyes relatively level in both of those videos. I like how fast he is getting the bat through the zone too, a lot less wasted motion from what I can tell. I can’t wait to see it in work in actual games.

  • Featherstone

    If Brett Jackson put up a .250/.350/.450 line over a full season in Center Field while stealing 20 or so bases and playing above-average defense what kind of value would he have both WAR wise and in comparison to other CFs in baseball?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      A 0.800 OPS would have put BJax in the top 8 CFers last year. Basically, that would be just behind Granderson and Harper. Harper probably is moving to LF full time this year (unless they realize that Span’s poor OPS is better replaced by a LFer), too.

      Given what the Cubs trotted out next to DeJesus last year, that would be a huge improvement.

      • Dob2812

        They should ignore Span’s 105 wRC+ in 2012 or indeed his career 105 wRC+?

    • Noah

      He’d be 3-4 WAR player, which is someone who is a fringe All Star.

  • JR

    His swing and stance look pretty much the same as last year to me. I thought the problem with Jackson last year was he was trying to use the exact stance as Rizzo with his hands real low. Just because it worked for Rizzo, doesn’t mean it will with Jackson. Hitting is completely a feel thing. You have to be comfortable. In 2011 when he hit well in AAA he had his hands much higher. I hope what ever he did this offseason works for sure though…

    • Cedlandrum

      His hands and elbow were much higher in Iowa last year and he had a bit of a fade on outside pitches. He seemed to be diving a bit. I think he looks more smooth here.

      • JR

        This video below is exactly how i remember Brett Jackson last year. And his hands were extremely low, almost trying to look like Rizzo. I think in the video above his hands are a little higher. But if you look at him in AAA 2011 his hands are higher, and obviously he was much better that year.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCJMtahCLOY

        • Cedlandrum

          His hands might have been in a similar spot to start but his load was much higher which made his swing longer.

        • Rcleven

          Watch that back elbow. He flips it up. Then watch above video.

      • JR

        I don’t know man. All I know is Jackson went from a top 25 prospect and a guy every expert liked to an afterthought, and a guy that most expert thinks is a 4th outfielder at best in one season because of his ridiculous contract issues. His swing last year looked a hell of a lot different than it did in 2011. Which makes me scratch my head…

      • MichCubFan

        He had a higher leg kick last year, too.

  • sclem21

    Sure seems like he transfers weight to the front foot early, which could be part of the problem with the head movement as cubfanincardinalland noted.

    • Cedlandrum

      Or it could be that they are only throwing him BP fastballs and so he doesn’t have to stay back. I’m not too worried about that yet as he will get his timing down hopefully as spring goes along.

  • MightyBear

    Hey Brett, I just saw on MLBTR that Bowden and Dolis are out of options. What if they don’t make the bullpen? Do they have to be DFA’d, waived, etc.? How does that work? Thanks. (Samardzjia, Wood and Castillo are out of options too but I feel pretty secure that they are going to make the team)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s like what happened with Wells and (later) Volstad last year. They would have to clear revocable waivers to be sent to Iowa. In that situation, during Spring Training, teams tend not to block other teams by claiming guys on waivers (unless they really, really want the guy and intend to give him a role), because they, themselves, will have to waive guys, too (and, if claimed, the team can just pull the guy back).

      So, long story short: they’d have to be put on waivers, but the Cubs *probably* wouldn’t lose them. It’s possible, though. We’ll get into greater detail as guys start getting cut.

      • cubchymyst

        Will this be the most likely way that a nonroster invitee gets put on the 25 man roster coming out of spring training?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          If you mean 40-man roster, yes. Trade(s) could still be coming, but a number of the players on the 40-man who don’t make the 25-man will be considered for/have to go on waivers.

          • cubchymyst

            I was thinking more about the back up infield spot on the bench. But since you said a number of players on the 40 man might go through waivers if they don’t make the 25 man roster than it will take care of itself. Looking at the 40 man I don’t think the FO would want to cut any of the position players unless they had to.

    • MightyBear

      Thank you, kind sir.

  • Mick

    I see BJ’s been working with the Vizubat, that swing looks flawless. :)

    • Cubbie Blues

      Ha, I forgot what Deer was bringing to the part.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I like what I could see in the video.

  • Lou

    Older video of Jackson’s swing. I don’t have an eye for this. Don’t know if you can use this as comparison since it’s a different angle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJfBEl6RyQk

  • NCMoss

    So he said he’s a right hand dominant player. Why does he bat lefty? Why not be a switch hitter?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Probably was a switch hitter very young, but, for whatever reason, the righty just wasn’t working for him. Not that uncommon.

    • Adventurecizin’ Justin

      Speaking of that, I’ve often wondered why more LH hitters don’t learn to bat RH’d against southpaws. I was a switch-hitting batter in high school…I feasted on curveballs from both sides.

      Since most LH hitters are pathetic against LH pitching, why not consider making it a part of player development? Not all will be able to do it, but what if a Logan Watkins could?

  • they’re Alouing

    I was a right handed batter and I just decided to hit righties and lefties. Worked for me all through college ball. Stop embracing the righty lefty matchup and teach the kids to hit.

    • AP

      That’s how I feel about it. I think most of the “lefties can’t hit lefties” is a product of lazy, right-handed hitting coaches. If righties never learned to hit righties, there wouldn’t be any righthanded hitting players in baseball so what did they do – learned to hit righties. However, since a lefty can just sit against left-handed pitchers and still get 400-500 at bats per year, it’s just easier to say they can’t hit lefties and give the right-handed fourth outfielder the start.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Your are looking at it backwards and from a bad premise. It’s not about *learning* or being *taught* to hit. Instead, it is about weeding out the guys that cannot. RHB (and LHB) who cannot hit RHP are weeded out quickly: if you cannot hit the majority of the opposing pitchers, then you are done. LHB who cannot hit LHP are weeded out very slowly: there is still a good chance that they are very successful against the vast majority of pitchers that they face.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    “teach the kids to hit.”

    The first organization to figure out how to teach kids to hit will go on quite the rampage!

    The big issue here is that lefties do not see LHP all that often, whereas righties see RHP a lot. You get a better view of the release point from the opposite-handed pitcher, and righties can only make it if they have the ability to pick up the ball quickly against RHP. Lefties, on the other hand, have nowhere near the strong selective gradient to hit LHP. As the only way to “improve” (or to put in a strong enough selective gradient to weed out the LaHair’s of the world early) would be to make 50% of opposing pitchers LHP (and do that as early as, I dunno, little league), there will not be a solution any time soon!

    • Cyranojoe

      Same thing happens with all one-on-one sports. In fencing, most of my team got TROUNCED by lefties in competition because we had virtually no practice against them in practice.

    • Cheryl

      Doc, So are you saying in one sense that LaHair didn’t see enough lefties to be able to hit them? If that’s rhe case it didn’t help to platoon him.

      • DarthHater

        No, he’s saying that if LaHair had seen more lefties he could have been weeded out sooner. ;-)

      • cubchymyst

        Your looking at a different time frame. Doc is talking about starting in little league or high school at the latest. That is 10+ years of playing baseball when a majority of the pitchers you face will be right handed before you reach the majors. So for a right handed batters to reach the majors they need to be able to hit right handed pitching. Once someone is in the majors most of your development is done.

        • Cheryl

          I can see part of Doc’s premise about weeding out players like LaHair, but that doesn’t answer the question of why LaHair couldn’t hit lefties. If he was conditioned to hit right-handed pitching better because he faced more right handed pitching in high school or little league, couldn’t you be condiitioned at some point in time to improve your hitting against left-handers? To put it another way, say you lost the use of your right hand, you would have to adapt and learn to use your left hand.I don’t think development stops at a certain point.I am right-handed and it is my predominant writing means. But I can also write left handed. I’m not good at writing left handed but if I had to I could become better at it. Wouldn’t thst also apppky to batters like LaHair?

          • Cheryl

            Just curious.

            • DarthHater

              I took Doc’s remarks to be a theory about why, within the population of baseball players, we see a certain distribution of players who can and cannot hit lefties, not a theory about whether any particular individual can or cannot be taught to hit lefties.

              • Cheryl

                Thanks Darth. I think you made my point.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Right, my point was not about “teaching” or “learning.” My point was about selection. This is no different from Darwinian natural selection. For position players, you advance from one level to the next not by “learning” but by being good at hit the opposing pitchers. Through HS baseball, that means hitting RHP well 80% of the time. LHB have an advantage, but it’s not that the successful RHB “learned” how to hit RHP: it’s that the RHB who cannot hit RHP are selected out very early. This simply means that selection against LHB is weaker than it is against RHB.

                Where it gets tough for lefties is that the selective regime changes as they advance up the ladder. There are far, far more LHP in professional baseball than there are LH people in the general public: after all, the selective factor for pitchers is getting batters out, and neutralizing LHB is very effective. Note that LHP who cannot get RHB out also get weeded out quickly: so, once you get to professional ball, you face the LHP who have faced the toughest selective criteria of all the baseball players of your age.

                What that means is that the ability to hit LHP becomes a stronger and stronger selective force as guys go from HS to college to the low minors to the upper minors. This isn’t something that you can recognize in scouting: many guys will face so little LHP in HS that even the most statistically illiterate scouts would not draw conclusions.

                This is the model that we should use in our heads. It is not 100% correct, but it is much closer to this idea of “let’s get a bunch of 18 year old kids together and teach them how to play baseball!” The guys who get signed already have passed through severe selective gradients: the minors can hone their skills, but it cannot create them. The double-edged sword of being a LHB is that you got to the minors by being a good hitter against most pitchers: and most of them were righties. LHP will become an increasingly strong selective gradient: and one law of evolution is that changing selective gradients causes extinction far more often than it causes adaptation.

  • CubsFaninAZ

    His adjustment is basicly getting the bat square through the zone for longer time, thus increasing the chances of contact. Starting the hands high and finishing high makes a check mark like pattern in which the bat only squares through the zone for about 2 inches, this you’ll find alot in right handed dominant lefty hitters. It creates alot of power and home run swings, but has very lil contact rate. By lowering the hands and pulling the bat through the zone it gives the hitter about 4 more inches of contact point in the hitting zone. Think check mark vs nike swoosh, lol. By doing this Jackson is becoming more of a Mark Grace than a Adam Dunn. With the bat speed he has he should be a more power hitter than Grace was but when his career winds down he’ll still hit well for average. So your before and after imagination should be adam dunn strike out, then a Grace double video. If its successful jackson will be a perennial all star, because unlike Gracie, Jackson has wheels! Lol

  • Kukini

    Impossible to tell from these two videos, but will this new, more compact swing come at the expense of power?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s one of the most important questions. Can’t tell yet. Obviously the hope/design would be no. But we’ll see.

      • FFP

        I am looking (and reading) hard here. I don’t have a good eye for this stuff, so I am grateful for the video posts (so I can try to improve my eye) and analyses (so I can imagine that I did).
        But, if a guy’s K rate goes down, even at the expense of power, I think that’s good. He will “keep the line moving” in a lineup full of hitters who get on base, see lots of pitches, put balls in play.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Just depends. “Power” doesn’t just mean homers – it means hitting the ball with authority (maybe that’s the phrase I should use instead of “power”). And if you sacrifice too much of that for contact, you won’t have many line drives, and you actually won’t have more hits, despite putting the ball in play more often. It’s a delicate balance.

          • MichiganGoat

            See Tony Campana

            • Hansman1982

              Brett said reduced power not devoid of power.

            • FFP

              I was imagining the not-very-scrappy Wade Boggs.

              As good a place as any to mention this, the SOUND in those video’s reminded me; I really missed baseball.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Power is not the main objective at this point — he’s shown some decent pop in his bat at pretty much every stop, but is almost universally regarded as a 15-20 HR guy even after his power develops fully. I get the impression that his rating as top power prospect in the Cubs system was more a symptom of lack of true power prospects elsewhere. He’ll be more of a gap-to-gap doubles hitter at the ML level, making consistent contact a much more important part of his approach.

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  • Adam

    At least I didn’t see a swing and miss in his few bp swings

  • waittilthisyear

    i noticed this a while back and i encourage anyone who is interested to do the same…if you are watching a game on TV and a LHP is on the mound, try looking at the LHP on a mirror hung on the reverse wall of the TV…while everything else looks the same as usual, the LHP’s delivery is so dissimilar to that of an RHP that i became convinced that there is a very legitimate explanation for lefties struggling against lefties

    • coalminerd

      Isn’t that just because the centerfield TV cameras are actually slightly in left center to accommodate pitcher, catcher and batter in the same frame? Sometimes the ESPN games are televised from a higher – pure center – angle. I think the mirror test wouldn’t show any consistent difference between righty deliveries and lefty. Seems there is greater individual variation based on arm angles, windup, etc. than fundamentally lefties are throwing differently than righties.

      • waittilthisyear

        good point, and one i considered. obviously, my test was not one that controlled for every factor necessary to make it one that everyone could rely on. but, if convenient, take a look for yourself and see what you think

      • TWC

        I think I caught a Twins game while playing MLB.tv roulette one night last year, and I remember their CF camera was positioned at a high, dead-center angle. It just seemed… weird to me.

  • Roger Roper

    Every time you pop one up Hayes you owe me 50 push-ups

  • The Dude Abides

    Jackson’s 24 yrs old with over 400 minor league games in four years. 26% K rate isn’t great but his 12% BB rate and over 375 OBP works. If this change in technique does nothing else but give him confidence mission accomplished. Not the first guy to struggle with his first callup to the majors – give him 300+ AB’s this year for a make or break year not like we are playing for anything this season.

  • CubsFaninAZ

    I think he’s universally considered a 20-30 homer guy, but without these new adjustments he’ll be a 20-30 homer guy that hits .220. They are hoping for a 20-30 homer guy with a .280- .300 ave, with a high on base %. Because if he becomes that then we’ll have an all-star center fielder for years. Thats highly valueable, and Jackson has all the tools to make it happen. He just needs the adjustments, and thats what baseball is, a game of adjustments!

  • chris

    I still see a slight raise of the hands creeping back up as locks and loads. It’s better but still busy.

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