I always choose bad news first, so Forsythe’s breakdown comes first. After watching clips from his successful 2016 season and comparing them to some of this year’s footage, it was hard to find what the problem was.
There are actually two, but only one of them is mechanical. If you’ve ever watched Forsythe’s swing, the first thing you might notice is how active his hands are. The location of his hands determines the story of his swing.
In 2016, when he put on a good swing, his hands were cocked and loaded in balance with his leg kick. His torso was hunched over a bit, but there was still a straight line from his left ear to his right foot, meaning he was balanced.
Much of that is the same in 2017, with one difference. When Forsythe puts on a bad swing, his hands tend to leak over the plate. It’s not by much, but enough to take the rhythm and power away from him.
Every hitter will agree everything starts with the lower body, and that’s where the power lies. However, when Forsythe’s hands leak over the plate, they get further away from his body, isolating everything. If everything is isolated, there is no rhythm. This is proven by how he can’t hit it past the warning track, and by how he seems late on every pitch.
The second flaw in Forsythe’s approach this year is his unwillingness to pull the trigger. Forsythe sees the most pitches per plate appearance on the team, which is good. However, it’s also led to a climb in his strikeouts. His hesitation could be a result of a timing issue, created by the isolation of his hands from his body.
Forsythe was hitting fine when the season began, but after his injury, he started to slump, understandably. Then there were two weeks, before the All-Star Break, when he was tearing the cover off the ball. Since the break, he’s back to hovering around .200.
It’s also difficult to adjust to a high-flying team after being traded. Whether it’s the break in playing time, or pressure from the trade, these problems go away with success in the batter’s box.