Former outfielder and current agent Gary Sheffield spoke with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on Sirius XM’s MLB Network radio about Tim Tebow’s desire to play baseball today. Sheffield says that he has worked with Tebow and that, while initially skeptical, he immediately came around to the idea that Tebow could make it because of the speed, power and compactness of his swing. Sheffield was also impressed by “that sound,” referring to the crack of the bat on Tebow’s swings.
I don’t know if “crack of the bat” is a legit scouting observation or not. People have always talked about it, and I’m sure that there is a correlation between bat speed, squaring up the ball and strength that leads to that satisfying sound. I suspect it’s one of those deals, though, where all good hitters make the bat crack nicely, but not all hitters who make the bat crack nicely are good hitters, if that makes any sense. One of my Twitter friends, a Twins fan, reminded me that people talked big about the sound of the crack of Delmon Young‘s bat back in the day. And sure, if Tim Tebow could be Delmon Young that would be WAY better than anyone expects, but let’s not pretend bat crack is determinative of anything.
I’ll give Sheffield an extraordinarily wide berth on bat speed. If anyone on the planet knows bat speed it’s Gary Sheffield. That dude whipped the lumber like nobody’s business. Still worth noting: Sheffield was hired to work with Tebow. I don’t know what sort of relationship they had — he may have just coached him a bit on one afternoon, he may have worked with him a lot — but Sheffield does seem to have an interest in the Tim Tebow story working out, so take it for what it’s worth. For my part: I’m not gonna die on a hill of second-guessing Gary Sheffield’s insights on hitting, but I’m highly skeptical.
I’m more skeptical on the comments he and host Jim Duquette make about Tebow’s dedication and hard work. I don’t doubt that Tebow always worked hard at what he set out to do, no matter the results, but there is a clear thread in his career where, if someone asked him to do something he didn’t want to do — like play in the CFL or learn another position — he wasn’t too hot on it. People can change, of course, but as so many have observed, baseball is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. If Tim Tebow has major league dreams and someone says that he should cool his heels at extended spring training go ride the pine for the Missoula Osprey for three months to just soak in some baseball for a while, how will he react?
I guess we’ll see. In the meantime, here’s Sheffield talking Tebow: