The Imitation Game

Written By: Gabe Dimock

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. 

Stance

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.

Andrew McCutchen

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.11.38 PM

Carlos Gomez

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.12.27 PM

Ryan Braun

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.12.44 PM

Yasiel Puig

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.12.57 PM

The Leg Lift

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.

Joc Pederson

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.27.04 PM

Russell Martin

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.36.09 PM

Adrian Beltre

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.44.46 PM

Edwin Encarnacion

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.30.13 PM

Forward Load

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.

Jose Bautista

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.07.54 PM

Josh Donaldson

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.11.57 PM

Anthony Rizzo

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.45.51 PM

Chris Davis

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.48.50 PM

Back Foot

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.

Bryce Harper

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.50.49 PM

Hanley Ramirez

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.53.04 PM

Starlin Castro

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.56.14 PM

Mark Canha

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.54.30 PM

Turn To Contact

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.

Giancarlo Stanton

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.05.30 PM

Matt Carpenter

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.04.25 PM

Mike Trout

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 8.10.11 PM

David Ortiz

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.06.40 PM

Extension

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.

Dustin Pedroia

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.10.23 PM

Manny Machado

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.12.37 PM

Victor Martinez

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.14.19 PM

Matt Adams

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.15.56 PM

Finish

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.

Jorge Soler

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.17.35 PM

Khris Davis

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.18.30 PM

Jon Singleton

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.20.11 PM

Carlos Santana

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.23.35 PM

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:

Hitting Mix

 

Thanks for reading!

Gabe Dimock – Baseball Rebellion Hitting Instructor

9
Leave a Reply

avatar
5 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
ZekaiGabe DimockwilliamsDan FredrickMatt Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Zekai Geier
Member
Zekai Geier

Hitter with the best lower body movements?

Matt
Guest
Matt

Great article as always! I got a quick question, I’m having an issue in my swing where I’m swinging across my body, my hands are leaving the zone very quickly and I’m losing a lot of power and hitting a lot of balls off the end of the bat what could be causing this? Thanks

p.s. I don’t believe my shoulder is flying open, I try to real focus on that, but my hands always seem to go across my body.

Dan Fredrick
Member
Dan Fredrick

Hi Gabe.
This article should be required reading for all little league players (and perhaps college students in composition class). It’s super-analytical, uses specific examples and makes a lot of sense.
–Dan, university writing professor

williams
Guest
williams

i im having trouble swinging straight like my elbow tuke in like my elbow is touching my hip plus my foot im taking a step and its not going anywhere it just goes up then down i dont go forward

Zekai Geier
Member
Zekai Geier

How can I found what type pf timing mechanism and stride to use, whether its a leg kick or slide step? Is there anything specific and unique about each style of stride? Or Does a hitter exacute both style in similar fashion? Like Cano and Encarnacion sways back early though they have a low slide step, Somebody like braun will move immediately forward