You can be big and powerful, but that means nothing if you don’t have that swing.
Well, CJ Cron has that swing, and the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Rockies first baseman rode it all the way to Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.
His teammates were impressed.
“Just watching him practice batting is cool,” second baseman Brendan Rodgers said. “He’s a big guy and everyone expects him to pop, but his swing is very easy and fun to watch.
“What I preach to myself is to be calm, cool and relaxed in the box and let your hands do the work. That’s what I noticed about CJ”
Cron, 32, in his ninth season in the majors, is an all-star for the first time. He is hitting .298 with 21 home runs (fifth in the National League), 69 RBIs (fifth) and a .902 OPS (fourth). He was a monster at Coors Field, slashing .352/.393/.674 with 16 homers, 12 doubles, two triples and 53 RBIs.
Cron has a megawatt power. On June 17 at Coors, he hit a 486-foot homer against the Padres, the second-longest homer in the majors this season behind the Marlins’ 496-foot outburst at Coors on May 3. Cron’s average home run distance of 425 feet ranks first among hitters with 10 or more home runs.
He comes from a good stock. His father, Chris Cron, is the assistant track and field batting coach, and his brother, Kevin, plays first base for SSG Landers in Korea. Naturally, Cron can talk typing mechanics all day, but he prefers to just summarize.
“My swing is a bit unique, but I don’t think it’s that complicated,” Cron said. “I want to charge for power and I want to make sure and use my hands, put them at the center of what I do. I realized that my hands are the best part of my swing.
Cron’s work is on display during batting practice, often when manager Bud Black pitches.
“Buddy will be there and he’ll be yelling ‘hit and run,'” batting coach Dave Magadan said. “And I’ll be damned if CJ doesn’t hit a perfect line to right field. He has very good bat control, especially for such a big man.
Cron’s swing has evolved over the years. Seeking more consistent power and better timing, he added a higher kick ahead of his 2020 season with Detroit, a season cut short by a knee injury. Cron’s main goal was to see the pitches better, giving him the ability to adjust his hands to the pitch, allowing him to shoot the ball or go the other way.
“He’s got a really big leg kick now and it’s creating a lot of momentum,” said right fielder Charlie Blackmon, four-time all-star player and 2017 NL batting champion. keeping his head relatively calm. Usually, the more you move, the more your head moves. The more your head moves, the harder it is to hit.
“CJ is able to have momentum and keep his head still, which is why he has this constant contact and power.”
Third baseman Ryan McMahon said Cron’s hitting style is “very practical and very whipped.”
“He’s a hip hitter, that’s how I would classify him,” McMahon said. “He clears his hips and allows that momentum to carry the barrel through the area. And he keeps the barrel in the zone for a long time and he trusts his hands to overcome those off-speed pitches.
But Cron’s success stems from more than muscle and swing mechanics.
“I’m not going to reveal his secrets, but he’s not just up there, I’m going to tell you the same,” Blackmon said. “He has a system, a program and an approach that he likes to stick to. It certainly pays off.
Magadan recalls a fight that exemplifies Cron’s cunning approach.
“I don’t remember the pitcher, but CJ was in a 3-0 count and we gave him the go-ahead to pitch,” Magadan recalled. “He took a fastball right in the middle. So on the next throw he got a slider and knocked it out of the park.
After the game, Magadan asked Cron about the batting attack.
“He said, ‘Well, I thought I could see the slider really well and that guy’s fastball was a little underhanded,'” Magadan recalled. “So CJ decided he was going to take the fastball, which he wasn’t really comfortable and he had a pretty good idea that on 3-1 he was going to get a slider. Sure enough, he got one and hit him. It’s stuff like that that makes him a good hitter. He plays chess there.
Then Magadan stopped, laughed and said, “CJ tries to come across as an idiot but he’s the farthest from it. He is dumb as a fox.