What Can Bryce Harper Learn From Mike Trout?
(PLEASE NOTE: this video post was done in 2014, before Bryce Harper won the NL MVP in 2015. At the end of the post I give an UPDATE)
This article explains why Mike Trout will repeatedly out-slug Bryce Harper mechanically, unless Bam-Bam adds efficiency to his swing.
I picked this match-up because they have one year separating their experience in the Big Leagues, they're similar physically, but Mike Trout slugs almost 100 points higher! According to Baseball-Reference.com:
- Bryce Harper is 6'3″, 225 pounds,
- Mike Trout is 6'2″, 230 pounds,
- Harper's 162-game average Slug% = .464, and
- Trout's 162-game average Slug% = .554.
In this video, we'll compare Mike Trout, and look at how Bryce Harper DOES NOT:
- Get a “head start” using Gravity,
- Spring load his body, and
- Follow the One-Joint Rule.
Mechanical Disadvantage #1: DOES NOT Get a “Head Start” Using Gravity
Bryce Harper starts from a dead stop. We know stop and go traffic burns fuel quicker than freeway driving. Because it's inefficient. A “head start” is how we get more efficient during a swing. Think about receiving the baton in a 4X100 meter relay race. Throwing a 16-pound Shot Put over 70 feet. Or hitting a golf over 500 yards.
Effective hitters use Gravitational Forces to get their swing started and spice up their Final Turn. Mike Trout does this. Consider this Un-Weighting Principal test…
Imagine standing tall holding a forty-pound dumbbell in your hand hanging by your side. Now lift the weight up in front of your face. What muscles did you feel working? Shoulder? You're right!
Now, get back to your standing position. Take a medium step forward and when your foot hits the ground, start to lift the dumbbell in front of your face. What muscles did you feel working? Would it be easier to lift that 40-pound dumbbell with the first or second scenario?
Mechanical Disadvantage #2: Minimal Spring Loading
Our body loads using springy fascial tissue. According to Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains, fascia:
- Is what the bones and muscles float in,
- Gives muscles their shape,
- Is a spider web or cotton candy-like material, and
- Is made of mostly springy collagen fibers.
In comparing Adrian Gonzalez, Bryce Harper has an explosive swing, but in reality doesn't engage his body's own natural springy material as much as A-Gon.
Mechanical Disadvantage #3: DOES NOT Follow the One-Joint Rule
Dr. Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD.com talks about this quite a bit. He's referring to the head and spine position during dynamic movement. There are two types of vertebrae bending or flexing:
- Local Flexion – would be dropping the chin to the chest or ear to the shoulder, and
- Global Flexion – keeping the head and spine aligned as one unit, while bending forward or sideways.
In an efficient swing, number one is BAD, and number two is GOOD. Why? CLICK HERE and watch the next four minutes of this YouTube video (3:13-7:13) of Dr. Kelly Starrett demonstrating the One-Joint Rule. He doesn't include flexing the head sideways (ear to shoulder). But you'd get the same ineffective force producing result as taking the chin to the chest.
As the above picture clearly shows, Bryce Harper actually goes ear to shoulder at and through contact. Unless something changes mechanically, “Bam-Bam” will continue to trail Mike Trout in repeatable power. However, with his body type, these changes can BOOST Harper into the 35+ homer per year category.
UPDATE: I wrote this article in 2014. Bryce Harper has made one big change to his mechanics…in this video, Darryl Hamilton points out some interesting points (not all I agree with):
I don't agree with Darryl Hamilton that Bryce Harper is minimizing his Forward Momentum from 2014 to 2015, I think it's the same. Although, I do agree Harper is more “squatted” when he starts.
I think the biggest change is with his back foot NOT coming off the ground as much, or traveling as far forward as it was in 2014. This has allowed Harper to stay on the plane of the pitch longer with his barrel, and therefore hit more dingers in 2015.
However, I still don't like how Bryce Harper breaks the ‘One-Joint' Rule. He's still leaving repeatable power on the table…and that's scary to think after his 2015 offensive output 😛