Quick Hits: Reds, Akiyama, Rays, Hess (www.mlbtraderumors.com)

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The new year is upon us, and baseball is set to return to something resembling its pre-coronavirus self, but our time for reflection is not yet at an end. Let’s check in with a couple players looking back on (very) recent touchstones in their respective careers…

  • Shogo Akiyama had to make major adjustments to his swing during his first season with the Cincinnati Reds. The Japanese import explains the changes he made in this video linked to by Bobby Nightengale of The Enquirer (via Twitter). Essentially, Akiyama attributes his struggles at the plate to a timing issue, something he remedied by delaying his front leg lift. The change appeared to work. After producing just a 46 wRC+ with a triple slash of .192/.280/.247 in 83 plate appearances across 24 games in August, Akiyama rebounded with a 135 wRC+ over the rest of the regular season. Over 79 plate appearances in September and October, Akiyama slashed .317/.456/.365, helping the Reds into the playoffs.
  • As a minor league free agent this winter, former Orioles’ right-hander David Hess jumped quickly at the opportunity to join the Tampa Bay Rays, signing a minors deal early in December. The Rays made their pitch to Hess on the first day of free agency, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Said Hess, “One thing the Rays have built a track record of is developing guys and being specific in who they’re looking for, and so when they came in that quickly, we right away knew how serious they were. That meant a lot to us. That was just something, them being the first team and how interested they were, that tipped the scales in their favor in a pretty good way.” Hess owns a 5.96 ERA/6.41 FIP in 190 1/3 innings spanning three seasons in his career.

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