5/23/08: To Michael Bourn From Harold Reynolds

Harold Reynolds, now on mlb.com, wrote this interesting entry about himself. But when I read it, I immediately thought of Michael Bourn:

“… I would struggle through that season, playing part-time and hitting only .144. Miserable, frustrated and unsatisfied with my performance, I considered quitting baseball at the end of the season.

Many people would say I was living the dream, but for me, I couldn’t live with being mediocre. I knew I was better but just couldn’t put it together. I had been an All-Star at every level in the Minor Leagues and didn’t understand why I was struggling in the big leagues while others I outperformed in the minors wasn’t….

The tough stuff is being willing to make adjustments. I knew I needed to make some changes in my swing and approach at the plate but was unsure of what to do. I was lost and needed to find the stroke that had made me an All Star at every level. When I got to the big leagues, I had been given so many confusing messages from coaches.
“Hold your hands high.”
“Hold your hands low.”
“Swing at the first fastball you see.”
“Don’t swing until you get two strikes.”

… It seemed every time I got around big league coaches and discussed my hitting problems, they all agreed on one thing as a solution — that I should “hit the ball on the ground and use my speed”.
I had heard that crap from the first day I signed a pro contract. “Hit the ball on the ground”. Hitting the ball on the ground does not automatically result in base hits. They pay guys millions of dollars to field ground balls. If the defense positions themselves correctly, you should be able to throw out a batter hitting nothing but ground balls every time. This isn’t Little League, where you find the weakest link to hit the ball to. This is Major League Baseball! I have yet to see a player outrun a throw from a Major League infielder on a ground ball hit hard right at the defender.

I knew I had to hit line drives and balls in the gaps to have success. I did it in the minors and knew I had to do it in the big leagues. As long as they kept preaching ground balls and I didn’t make the adjustment to hit line drives, I was never going to stay in the majors…

Harold Reynolds is just about the same size as Bourn, is also the same kind of ballplayer.

Maybe Milo ought to read this…

Yes, I know Willy T was a leftover from the old “Baltimore Chop” days of the Runnin Redbirds when Busch was covered with Astroturf, but Willy T is a totally different guy from Bourn, who is a better fielder, baserunner, and, I suspect, a better overall hitter.

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3 Responses to “5/23/08: To Michael Bourn From Harold Reynolds”

  1. Bruce says:

    Amen!
    Now we need to find a Towles analog. I still think he may turn out to be a Biggio if he can get out of this stupid funk.

  2. Lisa Gray says:

    well, biggio never had THIS much trouble. but it’s not like he did great his first year neither:
    50 games/123 AB: 211/254/350 75 OPS+
    it IS interesting, however, that his second year, 1989, he won the silver slugger with a .257 BA – 21 doubles, 13 HR over 443 AB
    interesting, though, that they sent biggio straight from the sally league and 216 AB to AAA and brought him straight up after another 281 AB. He was 22. Towles turned 24 in february, but had a little under twice as many AB in the minors at 907.
    of course, biggio was a polished college player from a big baseball skool and towles went to some juco
    but right now i am not willing to discard the towle and i do NOT want to bring up quintero who isn’t hitting, but more importantly, the PITCHERS do not want to throw to.

  3. Mark says:

    The thing to remember about Towles is that his struggles aren’t really hurting the team. I think he’ll be fine with more major league AB’s. Some guys just take a little longer to adjust–and moving from the minors to the big club IS a big adjustment.
    Bourn will figure it out as well. I’m glad that the rest of the lineup is hitting so that these guys can go through the learning process.