C.J. Cron’s simple, powerful swing has Rockies’ first baseman blasting home runs
PHOENIX — C.J. Cron is a no-frills slugger. Think of a lumberjack felling a giant tree.
A simple, powerful swing is producing excellent results for the Rockies first baseman, who entered Friday night’s game against Arizona with nine home runs, tied for the major league lead with the Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo.
For the 32-year-old Cron, simplicity was the answer.
“I made some pretty big changes before 2020 when I played with Detroit,” he said. “I used to use more of my legs and I was more square at the plate, now I’m more open. I didn’t feel comfortable, before and I didn’t feel like I was picking up the ball well enough.”
But Cron’s seeing it well now. Since Aug. 1 of last season, Cron had slashed .329/.391/.654 with 23 home runs, 24 doubles and 72 RBIs in 80 games entering Friday. Over that period, he led the National League in RBIs, was second in total bases (191) and home runs and tied for second in hits (96).
“I wanted to simplify my swing as much as possible,” Cron said. “I knew that my hands were my biggest strength. Now, I don’t take my legs out of the swing completely, but I try to make sure my hands are in the best position they can be. The whip I have in my hands helps me quite a bit.”
Manager Bud Black said that sluggers using their hands is “kind of a lost art.”
“C.J’s sort of an old-school hitter in a lot of ways, and especially with how he uses his hands,” Black said. “That’s why with some of these low fastball and low pitches, you really see his hands and his wrists at work.
“It’s not a grooved swing like a lot of hitters you see now because of all the repetitions they get in the (batting cage). They take sort of the same swing all of the time, but C.J. hits with his hands.”
Black said he’s seen Cron’s confidence grow. Cron said he’s never been in a better place in his eight-plus years in the majors.
“I feel good,” Cron said. “Showing up to the park, knowing I’m going to be in the four-hole and playing first base is something I’ve never really had in my career.
“I knew I could hit, given the opportunity. Being a big part of the lineup, and especially hitting in the middle of the order, means a lot to me. I take a lot of pride in it.”
Bryant update. Left fielder Kris Bryant, on the 10-day injured list with a strained lower back, was eligible to come off the IL on Friday but he’s not ready. In fact, he’s still not taking any swings in the batting cage and he won’t play in the Arizona series.
“He’s doing better,” Black said. “Talking with (head trainer) Keith (Dugger), he’s confident that this thing is going to clear up. There have been a lot of doctors who have said there is nothing major going on.”
Black said he’s hopeful that Bryant can begin taking swings in the cage “later this week.”
Bryant, who signed a seven-year, $182 million free-agent deal, got off to a hot start, hitting .349 with hits in 10 of his first 11 games. But a slump brought his average down to .281 and he has yet to hit a home run in 57 at-bats. Plus he’s driven in just four runs and is hitting .056 (1-for-18) with runners in scoring position.
D-backs starters. Black is impressed with Arizona’s starters, with good reason. The Diamondbacks rotation owned a 2.54 ERA entering the weekend, second-best in the majors behind only the Dodgers (1.90). Over their last six games, Arizona starters were 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA, with 17 strikeouts and only two walks.
“I knew they had good starting pitching, I’ve seen it,” Black said. “They pitch, they know how to pitch. That’s the thing that stands out.”
Hot Isotopes. Triple-A Albuquerque entered the weekend ranking second in all of MiLB in OPS (.857), batting average (.286) and slugging percentage (.492), and were third in runs scored (176) and homers (42).
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