Willson Contreras hits as though 2018 has never happened.
He went to camp this spring, determined to bounce back, wearing a shirt that said "Do not believe me, just look."He admitted that he had become too confident last season and that he had gone out of the routine and work ethic that had brought him to the big leagues, he said. Committing to avoid such mistakes this year.
He spoke and now he is walking.
Contreras had already made a good start even before hitting two home runs measured at 903 feet in Friday's 5-1 win. A 19 mph wind blew the Waveland ballhawks, but make no mistake: Contreras absolutely hammered both.
Come relax on Waveland Ave. and you will probably catch a HR WILLSON CONTRERAS!
Post here: https://t.co/86W59JAeWa pic.twitter.com/NL66gVUiGh
– Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) April 12, 2019
That gives him five home runs in the young season, which is already half the total he made a year ago (10) and places the receiver of the Cubs in front of all the other pillars of the National League.
He became the first receiver of the Cubs with 5 homers in the first 13 games of his team since Gabby Hartnett reversed the situation in 1934 (by Chris Kamka).
Contreras left the yard more Friday afternoon than he did in the last two months of 2018 – 1 circuit in 45 games (142 in total).
That's what everyone expected as a reminder for his 2017 campaign, when he crashed 21 home runs and ran 74 points despite a month-long injury loss in the thigh.
"It looks so much more like when he was really hot the second half of 17 when he was injured, he looks exactly the same," said Joe Maddon. "… He had a chance for 100 RBIs, probably 25 homers and all went missing with an injury Physically / mechanically, he looks like he was before.
"It's a postponement of spring training. I watch him closely. He's doing the same thing he did at camp and he's doing the same thing at the camp he did two years ago. "
What are these things? What's the difference between the Contreras we're seeing right now and the 2018 release?
"I am much more focused this year than I was last year," he said earlier in the week. "This year, I'm really calm, I'm letting things happen, I'm playing and I'm having fun, that will be the key for me.
"It's more mental to be in the big leagues, you have to have the tools and the talent.I obviously have it, but I'm working more on the mental game and I think it's paying off. . "
Contreras talked about his desire to get some fun out in the field during his candid talk with Kelly Crull of NBC Sports Chicago during Spring Training.
Really, even beyond the appearance "fun" and the relaxed, it is simply to avoid complacency for Contreras.
"You learn a lot, especially when you feel like you have failed, as I did last year," he said. "For me, it was not a bad year, but the second half was not what I wanted.I think I became too confident with myself and that's something I've learned – I have to keep going, keep working and move on.
"You have just learned a lot from a year like last year.This will stay in 2018. We are now working on 2019 and until now I feel pretty good."
With all that has been said about how the Cubs offensive "failed" last season, Contreras played a central role in these discussions.
He is now back to the form he had before 2018 and arrives at an important moment for this Cubs offensive when they do not see the heart of the order (Kris Bryant-Anthony Rizzo-Javy Baez) raise its standard production through the first 13 games.
"This guy is – the physical talent – the best receiver in the National League," said Maddon. "He was part of the star team last year, so the second half was not so good.I do not say that he can continue like that, but what we see right now, he is very capable of season – something in that sense. "
Click here to download the new NBC Sports MyTeams app! Get complete coverage of your teams and easily broadcast Cubs on your device.