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As hitting instructors, we strive to help every hitter reach their highest potential and swing in the most optimal way possible. One way in which we do this is through example. We often find examples of professional swings that illustrate the portion of the swing we are working on. We do our best to use hitter’s who resemble our client in some way, whether it is a similar body type or swing style. It is important though to realize that no one hitter is actually perfect! For example, Mike Trout has great upper half mechanics but could improve somewhat with his lower half. Bryce Harper gives us the opposite example. His lower half is arguably the most explosive in baseball but his upper body mechanics leave room for improvement. I want to encourage hitters to take the best parts of the pros swings and train not just what the best do, but what is biomechanically optimal.
With it being the beginning the 2015 MLB season, I want to give some examples of current MLB hitters who illustrate great movements at various portions of the swing. I hope this allows readers to watch and follow multiple hitters when patterning their swing instead of limiting their swing to becoming like one single hitter.
A hitter’s stance is one of the most variable portions of the swing. Stances may be narrow or wide but should always allow hitter’s to move with rhythm and fluidity out of them.
This portion of the swing is also extremely variable as players with different body types and ability levels should utilize different styles. Below you will see a range of options. JK wrote an article detailing leg kicks that you can read here.
The forward load gains momentum and energy through the separation of the hips and the shoulders. This allows hitters to be powerful in their turn. This position should be fairly uniform for high level hitters.
Ideally the back foot should be pulled up and forward by the back hip. While many hitters are successful without the back foot coming off the ground their it is not optimal for force production. For more on this click here.
The turn to contact may look somewhat different depending on the timing of the hitter and the location of the pitch. In general, the hitter will produce the most force when rotating both the lower and upper body and making contact with the elbows apart and bent.
Extension is one of the least important components of the swing when a hitter is on time with the pitch. However it becomes increasingly important if the hitter is early. Extension or release of the barrel allows the hitter to make solid contact even when their timing is slightly off. For more on this click here.
The finish should be a result of the parts leading up to it. That being said, hitters often can make swing improvements by attempting to finish well. The body will often reject negative components of the swing if the finish doesn’t support them. It can also help hitters turn faster and have a more aggressive mindset.
Now that you have seen what elite hitters look like at various points in the swing, nothing should hold you back! One way to launch yourself into finding the rhythm and style that best suits you is to play the imitation game. In this game, you will simply pick a player who performs a certain part of the swing extremely well and imitate him in batting practice or when you’re just having fun in the backyard. With time you might find yourself turning into a hitting monster with a Bautista leg kick, a Harper turn, a Trout upper half, and a Gomez finish. Here is a GIF that shows a mix of elite hitters performing great movements within the swing:
Thanks for reading!
Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor