Yaz credits Giants, grandpa's slight lie in finding power originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
One month ago, Hall of Fame outfielder Carl Yastrzemski didn't take any credit for the rise of his grandson, Giants star outfielder Mike Yastrzemski. The elder Yaz gave all the credit to his son, Carl Jr.
With 452 career home runs, an AL MVP and Triple Crown to his name, Carl had to have passed down some advice to Mike that resonated over the years. To Mike, the Boston Red Sox legend certainly had a big role in him turning into one of baseball's biggest surprising stars.
"My grandfather told me that you need to be a good hitter first and then you'll eventually find your power when you get older," Mike told MLB Network's Jon Heyman on the "Big Time Baseball" podcast. "He said he didn't start hitting home runs until he was about 28, and I don't know if I believe him but that's actually when it started happening for me.
"He was probably just trying to make me feel good about myself, but it ended up being the truth."
The advice certainly did pan out to be true for Mike, who didn't make his MLB debut until May 25 of last season when he nearly was 29 years old. He went on to hit 21 homers as a rookie in 107 games last year.
But the advice also was a bit of a lie. Carl made his MLB debut at just 21 years old in 1961. He also led the majors with 44 homers, 121 RBI and a .622 slugging percentage in his age-27 season when he was named AL MVP. From his age-21 season through his age-27 season, Carl hit 139 homers and averaged 20 per season.
The former Red Sox star did hit 40 home runs in back-to-back years when he was 29 and 30 as well.
While Carl starred in Boston in his early 20s, Mike spent his early 20s bouncing around the Baltimore Orioles' farm system. He does believe that his mind and body maturation in recent years have led to his power surge, though.
"I think it comes from a couple different things," Mike said on finding his power the last two seasons. "One is obviously a maturity level from your body standpoint. Another is a maturity level from your mind's standpoint -- having to figure out what pitches you can drive, what pitches you can take bigger swings at, things like that.
"Then also, just trying to figure out my swing."
That has been the biggest difference the last two years. It also coincides with him joining the Giants.
The Giants traded minor league pitcher Tyler Herb to the Orioles for Yastrzemski on March 23, 2019. At that point, he had spent six seasons in the Orioles' minor leagues. From 2014 through 2018, he played for Baltimore's Double-A affiliate in five straight seasons. His career high in homers before being traded was just 15.
Yastrzemski essentially was being taught to be a slap hitter. He doesn't look like a prototypical power hitter at just 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds. When he joined the Giants' organization, however, they let him know right away about his power potential.
"When I got to the Giants, the first thing the hitting coordinator said to me was he loves my swing and thinks I can do a lot of damage," Yastrzemski said. "I was like, 'Man, I haven't heard someone say they love my swing since I was in college. That's awesome.'
"Having that confidence and having him say something like that was so freeing that I was able to trust what I was working on for the past four years on my own with what the Orioles told me I shouldn't be doing."
Yastrzemski credits Alan Zinter, who now is the Cincinnati Reds hitting coach, and Damon Minor, the Sacramento River Cats hitting coach, with instilling confidence in him to be the kind of hitter he always knew he could be. And their words are proving true in the big leagues.
Entering Sunday, Yastrzemski had seven homers, three triples, 11 doubles and a .581 slugging percentage this season for the Giants. If we're keeping score, this is another win for San Francisco, and an ugly loss for Baltimore.
Really, the biggest winner is all the grandfathers telling the slightest of lies to make their grandsons believe in themselves more.