Sandy Leon has shown flashes of offensive prowess during his career, and it appears the Boston Red Sox catcher is in the midst of one of those stretches right now.
After a slow April, Leon has hit the ball well during the month of May, posting a .313 average with an .826 OPS, three RBIs, one double and one homer entering his start Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The offensive surge is reminiscent of Leon’s stellar stretch in the first half of 2016, when the 29-year-old hit .455 with a 1.173 OPS, nine RBIs and as many doubles with one home run.
So why has the Sox catcher come around lately?
Among the reasons, he believes, is lowering his leg kick as he loads up to swing. Leon described to MassLive why he thinks his offense has improved lately.
“Try to just get everything simple,” Leon said. “Try to lower my leg kick to see the pitch better. I feel like if I strike out or if I hit a fly ball or whatever, I feel like I’m taking good pitches, good at-bats and swinging at strikes. So I feel good right now.”
Reducing the height of the leg kick is important to note, because that’s something manager Alex Cora has harped on this season with struggling center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.. And as Bradley has worked on reducing his leg kick, his offense has improved.
Additionally, Leon getting some more at-bats of late visibly has allowed him to get into a bit of a rhythm at the dish.
And while that routine appears to have helped, Leon acknowledged that he has gone back to look at some 2016 footage to see what did and didn’t work.
“I was looking to see if I see something, whatever’s going to help me. My leg kick, if I was jumping too much,” Leon said. “I was swinging at everything (in April). I was swinging at a lot of balls. I was trying too much. I wasn’t playing a lot.”
Cora has indicated what matters most to him is that his catchers are able to call a good game and fulfill their defensive obligations. Leon has done just that, boasting the sixth-best catcher’s ERA (3.09) of backstops who have caught at least 500 batters this season.
And while it is clear that Leon fulfills his defensive duties, it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s doing the same thing at a high level on the offensive end.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images