Many players see the offseason as a time to rest up and get physically ready for the next campaign.
There is nothing wrong with that if you are an established star.
However, young, struggling players who need to improve in order to guarantee their future and put themselves in a position to play more and better use it to study their flaws and come up with ways to optimize their swings and reach their full potential.
This is what happened with Josh Naylor, Cleveland Guardians slugger.
A left-handed hitter, he knew he was having trouble hitting pitchers of the same hand.
But he worked a lot on his swing and approach against lefties after the end of the 2022 campaign, hoping to see results in 2023.
He transformed himself, going from a liability to an asset against left-handed hurlers.
“Josh Naylor vs LHP, 2021-2022: 193-AB/.181-BA/2-HR. Josh Naylor vs LHP, 2023: 137-AB/.299-BA/5-HR. That’s not easy to do. That is some serious off-season dedication,” Twitter baseball analyst @fuzzyfromyt tweeted.
Josh Naylor vs LHP, 2021-2022:
Josh Naylor vs LHP, 2023:
That's not easy to do. That is some serious off-season dedication.
— Fuzzy (@fuzzyfromyt) January 15, 2024
Lefty-on-lefty matchups are some of the hardest for left-handed hitters: they have a hard time seeing the ball come out of the pitcher’s hand.
But these issues are often fixable, if you have the resources to identify the problem and come up with ideas to get better.
Thankfully, Naylor had the patience and the resources and is now equally dangerous against pitchers from both hands.
You could see the improvement in Naylor’s OPS: it was .700 in 2021 and .771 in 2022.
A very cool .842.
Suffice it to say, it was a career-best for the slugger.