Maybe. It’s possible Matt Diaz was in better shape years ago with the Royals or something, but this story has all the hallmarks of a BSOHL story: struggling player with a weakening hold on a major league job + big weight loss and optimistic talk. Take it away Dave O’Brien of the AJC:
After seeing his slugging percentage plummet more than 100 points in 2011 and home-run total drop to zero – he hit 20 in the previous two seasons combined — Diaz decided to change his physique. Not by getting bigger in his upper body, but by slimming down.
Through one week of spring-training batting practice, first against coaches and in the past two days against pitchers, the 33-year-old outfielder said he feels a difference. “Really good, free and easy on the swing,” Diaz said. “I had some power when I was hitting at the college I’ve been hitting at [during the offseason], but then when I came out here, hitting nice baseballs, I was like, ‘Wow, I do have power.’”
This follows a bulk-up with the Pirates which, if I remember correctly, was met with equally optimistic talk about how it would improve his game. It’s a lesser-known subgenre of BSOHL involving guys who go back and forth and claim improved feeling based on contradictory approaches to conditioning. I call it the “BSOHL carousel.”
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.
As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!