Lessons Learned > Tommy Pham > 2017

Tommy Pham has had a very good 2017, hitting 11 home runs, batting .299, and putting up an OPS of .895 as of the 2017 All-Star Break.

That's quite surprising given that, while he had some short runs of brilliance in 2015, he then hit only .226 with 9 home runs during the entirety of 2016 and put up an OPS of just .764. His problems continued into Spring Training 2017 where he had 16 strikeouts, hit just .209, put up an OPS of just .599.

Tommy Pham's 2017 Spring Training performance was so bad that he didn't even make the major league team out of Spring Training. As a result, people started talking about his career, at least as a member of the Cardinals, being over.

The prevailing narrative is that Tommy Pham's return to his 2015 levels of success is due to his -- between the end of 2017 Spring Training and the start of the 2017 AAA season -- finding a contact lens that helped him manage his vision issues.

That narrative is at best incomplete.

At a minimum, what was Tommy Pham's problem during the 2016 season and why did it take 18 months to find a solution to the problem?

What's missing is the series of texts I sent Tommy Pham, starting with this one that I sent him on the morning of April 4, 2017.

April 4, 2017 - Text One

The "despicable" comment was in response to some April 2016 comments that Mike Matheny made on KMOX, saying that professional hitters shouldn't listen to "Internet Guys." That confirmed something that I came to suspect -- because Tommy implied as much in 2015 -- that he was getting pressure from inside the Cardinals organization to ignore the Internet research he was doing on his own and listen to the Cardinals coaches.

The problem was that listening to "the experts" didn't work for Pham during the 2016 season and it made things even worse during 2017 Spring Training.

I didn't help him with his swing from September 2015 through March 2017, and how did he hit during that time?

A more secure person, instead of disparaging an instructor as an Internet Guy, would instead have asked, "Hey, can you take a look at Matt Holliday's swing?" Which I eventually did. Without Mike Matheny's asking or knowledge.

Although he's never acknowledged or thanked me, I can see the difference in his swing and hope I helped save his season and, perhaps, his career. While I was irritated at his dumping and disavowing me in September 2015 after achieving success, I couldn't let his dreams die when I knew what the problem was.

In sum, those texts addressed two topics, one of which was also key to Mark Trumbo's spectacular 2016 season...

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