D-backs hitting coach credits work ethic for success of power-hitting trio
PHOENIX — A trio of power hitters is leading the way for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season.
Those three D-backs sluggers are first baseman Christian Walker, left fielder David Peralta and center fielder/catcher Daulton Varsho.
Walker’s 11 home runs coming into Tuesday had him tied atop the National League, trailing only Aaron Judge (17), Yordan Alvarez (12) and Mike Trout (12) in all of MLB.
D-backs hitting coach Joe Mather said Tuesday that the first baseman has been consistent this year after putting in a lot of work in the winter and spring.
“Directed right where the holes were in maybe his swing or his approach. … It gives pitchers a lot less options of where to attack him and he’s been taking the walks when they’ve been handed to him and he’s been hitting the pitches that are over the plate that he wants a lot better,” he said.
One of those holes was high and inside fastballs, which Mather said pitchers would lean toward throwing him last year. This season, however, Walker seems to have “multiple clubs in his bag” — something the D-backs hitting coach preaches in his approach at the plate.
“He’s naturally more of a low-ball hitter and he has been that way his whole life probably… So he’s got the low-ball club and he added the high-ball club this winter, so I’d say that’s the big one,” Mather said.
Right behind Walker in the home run column are Varsho and Peralta at eight, with the OF/C tied for the team lead with 21 RBIs (Pavin Smith). Varsho has had to catch a little bit more than expected this season due to injury to starting catcher Carson Kelly and backup rookie Jose Herrera missing time with COVID-19.
The soon-to-be 26-year-old lefty has caught in 17 of his 42 games this season — or 40.5% of his playing time.
“He’s got a gameplan not only for the pitcher he’s going to face but the pitcher he’s going to catch and the staff he’s going catch on top of the workload. … So he’s handled it really well and he’s caught more than we thought he was going to I think,” Mather said.
“So being able to pick it up the way he has kind of in-season this way has been huge for the team and a testament to his ability to just lock it in.”
Peralta is tied with Walker for second on the team with 20 RBIs this year. Mather attributes the 34-year-old lefty’s success this season to working on being able to “back the ball up a little bit,” which then allows him to attack the other parts of the plate.
“David’s really quick and extremely strong. I think everyone sees that he hit the ball as hard as anybody. When he fires a little bit earlier than he wants to, he creates a lot more holes in the zone for him,” Mather explained.
“And when he’s able to back it up, it actually opens up the inner lane for him — which sounds counterintuitive — but being able to hit that outside low and away heater in his work allows him to hit not only that one, but the inner half as well.”