How Tim Tebow could make a legit path to the majors

When it was announced that Tim Tebow was an Eastern League All-Star in Double-A, most people scoffed, others laughedand some people including me peeked into his numbers to see whether he really deserved it.But instead of discovering whether he deserved the honor, I found something else entirely. He could beonly a couple of adjustments away from really putting it together. In fact, he’s only a couple of succe sful tweaks in his swing away from actually deserving his chance for a shot in the majors.MORE: SN’s MLB Midseason Awards with a twist!That’s right. I said it. If he makes a couple of adjustments to what he’s trying to accomplish at the plate, he will actually deserve the chance to get that call to the majors. Scoff all you want, but let’s break down the numbers.Tebow ishitting .270 with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies with a .727 OPS through 267 plate appearances. That’s good for a 105 WRC+ in his second full season as a minor leaguer. This line was the reason he was an All-Star in Double-A.If you look deeper into his stats, you see his path to the majors. Tebow has a .120 ISO, a 35 percent K rate and an 8 percent walk rate not very good, to say the least. The most glaring statistic is his .423 BABIP. While a .423 BABIP is obviously due to regre s, it also tells me one thing: When the man putsthe ball in play, he’s hitting mi siles, but he’s not Nolan Ryan Jersey capitalizing on these mi siles as much as he could be. Let’s jump even deeper.Tebow needs to know who he is. He’s going to be (or needs to be) a left-handed slugger who strikes out at lot, like Adam Dunn or Joey Gallo. In order to be a productive player in that mold, he needs to start doing a couple of things differently. This year, he’s hitting 55 percent ground balls. That’s much too high, especially as someone who will likely face a shift. He’s hitting home runs on 15 percent of his fly balls, which is pretty good. The problem here is that he’s only hitting fly balls 22 percent of the time. With the power Tebow has, that is nowhere near enough if he wants to be succe sful.The chart below showcases the groundball, flyballand home run per flyball rate trends of succe sful hitters who’ve fitTebow’s potential MLBarchetype.PlayerCareer WRC+GB %FB%HR/FB%K%Adam Dunn12333.746.122.028 Justin Verlander Jersey .6Joey Gallo10729.25257.836.0Ryan Howard12138.937.825.828.2Lucas Duda12031.546.815.024.3Tim Tebow (2018)N/A55.922.815.235.6Because Tebow’s fly balls turn into home runs at a fairly decent rate, he needs to cut that 55 percent ground ball rate nearly in half. Logically, that means he’ll hit more fly balls and, most likely, he’ll hit more home runs as well as other extra-base hits. Home runs are good. A shift can’t stop a home run.So how can Tebow start hitting more home runs? It’s not as simple as just uppercutting the ball. A quick look at his spray chart reveals a couple of clues. Tebow hits the ball to the opposite side (44 percent) more than he does to the pull side (36 percent). If you pull up his spray chart and compare it to players more of his archetype, he’s hitting the ball to the opposite field more than twice as much than them.PlayerPull %Center %Opposite %Adam Dunn47.629.422.6Joey Gallo48.62922Ryan Howard45.333.721Lucas Duda43.333.123.6Tim Tebow (2018)36.918.844.3We don’t know for sure whether Tebow is trying to go opposite field or whether there is something in his swing that doesn’t allow him to hit the ball to the middle and pull side. It’s pretty unusual for a player with Tebow’s physicality and power to hit to the opposite field as much as he does. However, he could maximize his barrels a lot more if he can start hitting balls higher more often, preferably to the pull and middle side of the field, and not so many ground balls and balls to the opposite field.Tebow is an ox, and judging from his .423 BABIP, he has some legitimate juice and barrel skill. He’s listed at 6-3, 240 pounds, and we all know the kind of work he puts in the weight room. If he stopped going opposite field so often, he could increase his HR/FB rate. If he can start hitting more fly balls, it’ll lead to a higher ISO, Francisco Liriano Jersey slugging percentage, and, ultimately, OPS.No player can play in the big leagues and strike out 30 percent of the time and have an ISO in the low 100s. It’s po sible Tebow strikes out more in attempt to swap his ground ball and fly ball rates, but in order for him to someday be a major leaguer (and a succe sful one) he’ll need to become more of a power hitter. And based off his BABIP skill, it’s po sible and certainly worth the risk.