White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson got acquainted with third base prospect Matt Davidson earlier this month, and began to formulate a plan for 2014 with the 22-year-old.
Steverson isn't going to blow up Davidson's approach and try to turn him into something he's not. The first-year hitting coach sees a player who's hit plenty of doubles and home runs throughout five minor league seasons but has also struck out quite a bit.
"History can tell you a decent amount of information," Steverson said. "... Typically, strikeouts don't go down when you go from the minor leagues to the big leagues, but having a better understanding of who you are can help that process of being successful and competing at that level."
The goal here is to keep Davidson's strikeouts from ballooning to a rate high enough to detract from his overall approach. Of the 10 players with at least 200 plate appearances and a strikeout rate above 31 percent (about one in every three at-bats), six turned in below-average offensive seasons, while only Boston's Mike Napoli had what could be considered a good season (by wRC+).
After meeting with Davidson at a hitters mini camp at Camelback Ranch earlier this month, Steverson has a plan: Keep Davidson from becoming too pull-happy.
"He wants to use the whole field again and we were able to put that mindset back in a little bit in those three days we were there, and hopefully that'll carry over into spring training," Steverson said. "When you start pulling a lot, you will start coming off a lot of pitches and you're not as good as you were on the outer third part of the plate. So that may have hindered him just a little bit on that level. His strength is through the middle of the field."
Davidson will enter spring training with a chance to win an opening day start at third base, meaning he'd beat out incumbents Conor Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger. The Sox envision him as part of the core, and from the sounds of it his relationship with Steverson is off to a good start.
And that'll help Davidson accomplish the bigger-picture goal he laid out in December.
"I want to stick in the big leagues," Davidson said. "I don't want to be just up and down. Whenever that timetable is, I'm okay with that as long as the long term is sticking there."