Los Angeles. What makes a good baseball player great? They all work hard in preparing for the season and before each game. Some are more talented than others but that means nothing if they either don’t put in the effort or use the wrong exercises or drills when they prepare.
Let me pick three players who are at the top of their game and will absolutely be members of the Hall of Fame when they retire. Freddie Freeman, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright.
Freeman’s game day preparation is the same every day. He can be seen working on his fielding, in particular, his glove work before most are on the field. One of those drills is something that Ron Washington of the Braves uses with all his infielders. Freddie told me that Washington was the coach who first introduced him to this drill. “It is all about getting your hands out in front of the ball but mostly about repetition.” Freddie’s makeup as a ball player drives him to be better than the best. Even if it means doing this drill every day.
Adam Wainwright like every pitcher in the big leagues, has a routine that gets him from his last start to his next. But the one big thing that sticks out to me, is how he has changed through the years to lengthen his career. You would think as a 6’7” 230 pound pitcher he would be throwing 95-98 mph. But he instead has never thrown more than 91 mph in his 17 year career. Instead he has paced himself and learned how to pitch instead of just throwing. As a matter of fact, he stopped throwing sliders in 2013 and relies on his 89-91 mph fastball, 72 mph curve and a 84 mph cutter. The cutter has dropped from 88 to 84 over the years not because he can’t throw it that hard as much as he doesn’t need to. The slider is harder on the arm than a curve and using a curve instead of that higher speed slider has kept his arm stronger since his Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Lastly there is Clayton Kershaw. He was blessed with the fact that Sandy Koufax taught him so much at a young age. But by being a sponge, using that information and adapting it to his unique style, he has continued to pitch consistently as he paves his road to Cooperstown. Kershaw is usually the first player on the field working with his trainer on his own unique routine. He is relentless in his every day workouts. He can be seen on the field as early as 9am after he has pitched a night game. That is dedication to your profession.
All of this is why these three will be together in Cooperstown one day.
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