Royals’ Davies credits mental training with Biancalana for his September success
Been two months now, but Royals fans looking for reasons to smile remember Kyle Davies’ solid gold September.
For at least one month, he transformed from a back-of-the-rotation, fringe major-leaguer to a reliable, sometimes-dominating guy who could be a solid part of the Royals’ future.
It’s important to recognize the context here, but it’s also interesting that Davies — in this story — is the first big-league player to talk publicly about working with Buddy Biancalana, the former Royal who now offers a proprietary mental training program for pro athletes of all sports.
“I think one of the keys to my success has never really been talent, it’s been not getting in my own way,” Davies says. “I think that’s a lot of what Buddy’s program is about. It’s being as successful as you can be with the talent you’re given, without all the road blocks that human beings put in front of themselves.”
Davies went 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his five September starts, compared with 5-6 and 4.76 before that. He gave up 22 hits in 31 2/3 innings with a 24:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio — 47:36 before September.
Davies believes this is only part of his September surge. But with the Royals not out shopping for CC Sabathia or Derek Lowe, the best pitching news this offseason might be that Davies’ success is replicable in part because of the training that not even the Royals knew about.
Biancalana keeps his methods mostly secret, and there are stories of failure, too — the program couldn’t save one pitcher who was once highly regarded and now in his third organization.
But Biancalana has statistical evidence that shows his program works more often than not, and a growing number of success stories — Davies joins PGA golfer Lee Janzen as the best-known to talk about the program.
Davies first met Biancalana in 2006, when he was with a minor-league team in the Braves’ organization pitching a simulated game. He said he was skeptical at first, but once it sank in and he was able to tailor Biancalana’s program to his own comfort levels, he put more confidence in it.
“He’s not my pitching coach, and he’s not my shrink,” Davies says. “He’s just someone to help you get over the bumps in the road that all major-leaguers have. A lot of it I want to attribute to maybe I have calmed myself down a little bit, gotten a little bit older …
“I think his program gave me a couple steps in the right direction.”
By Sam Mellinger