For one week this spring, Barry Bonds will be a special hitting instructor for the San Francisco Giants. This news comes will great acceptance to fans of the Giants. Bonds, who is arguably the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, had an unbelievable amount of talent at the plate, and in the field for that matter. What most fans did not realize at the time is that he was, and is, also one of the smartest hitters of all time. His plate discipline was second to none as he routinely took borderline two-strike pitches that were on the edges of the strike zone for balls. He had a supernatural knowledge of the strike zone and used it to his advantage to force pitchers to make mistakes and throw pitches to his strengths. At 45%, Bonds has the lowest percentage of first pitch strikes thrown to him over his career. He knew opponents were afraid to throw to him and he took every advantage of that fact.
This knowledge of the strike zone and how to wait for your pitch is a skill that the free-swinging Giants can afford to learn. It will take more than a week to execute, but getting the idea in the players head should not take long when the presenter is Barry Bonds. The Giants have a lot of former players that hold a special instructor title. Will Clark, Rich Aurilia, Jeff Kent and J.T. Snow are a few names that are well known but just do not excite a young player like the name Barry Bonds. Most of the young Giants players grew up wanting to hit like Barry and don’t even realize how good Will Clark was in his day. The simple fact is there is not a more polarizing or engaging name than Barry Bonds right now, and San Francisco will benefit from the players fascination and engagement with their new instructor.
The question yet to be answered is can Bonds teach and coach? He was taught himself by two of the greatest Giants, Barry’s godfather Willie Mays and father Bobby Bonds, in history. His ability to learn from them should help Barry remember what worked for him and adapt that to his pupils. At this point Bonds will not even have to teach much. He has a week to talk and talk and talk about hitting to the Giants’ prospects. They will be hanging on to his every word and even the experienced players have enough respect for the great to keep an ear open and adapt potentially new philosophies to their game. Bonds will not be able to fix the Giants’ offensive inconsistencies in a week, but the knowledge he can give will only benefit the team this year and for many years to come.
Written by: Nic Amanno
Follow Nic on Twitter: @ChicoAlum
Be sure to like us on Facebook at MLB Insiders for your MLB news and information all season long.