Mike Tauchman, Outfielder, Chicago Cubs
Mike Tauchman felt like he was making some pretty good swing decisions. But that by itself wasn’t going to get him back in the Big Leagues.
He needed to swing the bat harder.
“I felt like I had the ability to make some pretty good swing decisions,” Tauchman said. “So it’s like, can I maximize? If I were able to create a little more bat speed, I could try to maximize those swing decisions a little bit better.”
The outfielder, who had last played in MLB in 2021 with the Yankees and Giants before spending his 2022 season in Korea, came into the Driveline facility for the first time in November of 2022 for an assessment, a plan of attack and a goal of getting back to the Bigs. Tauchman was aware of the programs Driveline had developed to increase bat speed and overall speed in the swing, and it had piqued his interest.
Mike Tauchman in November 2022
Mike Tauchman in January 2023
“I had read some of the data, some of the information out there on [bat speed training], and I thought that’s something that I had never really dove into,” he said. “So sometimes when you’ve never done something, there’s opportunity for gains. So that definitely sparked my curiosity.
There were a couple drills that hitting trainer Maxx Garrett worked with Tauchman on that he really liked.
One was offset open with a long bat, a drill that gives a hitter preset separation in his swing, which is essential for bat speed. The other was the hook ‘em drill, which worked on getting Tauchman’s hips and torso coiling evenly.
That type of training, external feedback in the form of ball flight, really stood out to Tauchman.
After his initial assessment in November, Tauchman came back in January fresh off inking a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs to get ready for Spring Training. At that point, the drills he had been working on had directly translated to increased bat speed and exit velocity.
The separation Tauchman was creating in his swing had gone from 5 degrees to 15, according to Garrett. That led to an increase of 1.5 MPH in bat speed.
That increased bat speed produced a .870 OPS in 24 games at Triple A Iowa to start the season before Tauchman got called up to Chicago on May 19, his first Big League action since July of 2021.
With Chicago, Tauchman has improved on almost all of his batted-ball data compared to his 2021 season with New York and San Francisco – his barrel, line drive and pull percentages are all up. His strikeout rate, chase and whiff percentages are all down.
Tauchman’s assessment of himself before he ever trained with Driveline was spot on. He does make good swing decisions. And swinging the bat a little harder did open up levels of production that he hadn’t previously had in the Big Leagues.
The training he did at Driveline went about it in a different way than he was used to. And again, like he said, when you train in a way you’ve never done before, there’s opportunity for new growth. It’s pretty clear, Tauchman has grown as a hitter in 2023.