Carlos Gonzalez

Carlos Gonzalez: A Killer MLB Power Strategy You Can Use Too…

 

Carlos Gonzalez Spine Angle

Carlos Gonzalez photo courtesy: MLB.com

I’m comparing two Colorado Rockies hitters, Carlos Gonzalez (aka Car-Go) and Nolan Arenado (2014 franchise record 28-game hit streak).  What repeatable power advantage does a guy like Car-Go have that Arenado may not?  Is it height?  Weight?

Neither.  Look how similar Car-Go and Arenado are physically (resource: Baseball-Reference.com):

  • Carlos Gonzalez – 6 foot, 1 inch, 220 pounds
  • Nolan Arenado – 6 foot, 2 inches, 205 pounds

In this video, we’re going to:

  1. Compare 5 key offensive numbers (based on a 162-game average),
  2. See what Car-Go and Arenado’s swings have in common, and
  3. Reveal the killer MLB power strategy.

 

Comparing 5 Key Offensive Numbers…

Here are key offensive numbers from the charts below, between Car-Go and Arenado:

  1. On-Base% (OBP)…Carlos Gonzalez = .355, Nolan Arenado = .309
  2. Slug% (SLG)…Car-Go = .527, Arenado = .432
  3. On-Base%+Slug% (OPS)…Car-Go = .882, Arenado = .741
  4. Doubles (2B)…Car-Go = 36, Arenado = 40
  5. Home-runs (HR)…Car-Go = 29, Arenado = 15

Sure we have more data points for Car-Go (7-years) than Arenado (2-years).  However, looking at how efficient each moves when swinging the bat, we’ll be able to assess the potential for Arenado’s performance in the future.  In addition to learning how Gonzalez may be able to improve.

CLICK HERE to get a brilliant Sabermetrics point of view for Car-Go 2.0.

What Car-Go & Arenado’s Swings have in Common

Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado photo courtesy: MLB.com

These are the human movement rules in common from the analysis:

  • Vision
  • Forward Momentum
  • Tight Turns
  • Engage Catapult Loading System

 

The Killer MLB Power Strategy

In comparing the two swings, what steps would Arenado have to take to hit for more consistent power like Carlos Gonzalez?  One of the secrets to repeatable power lies in the spine angle, which is achieved by the bend in the back knee.  The spine’s angle can allow a hitter to:

  • Get the barrel level on the downward plane of the pitch (slight upswing),
  • Stay in the impact zone longer (increased margin for error),
  • Keep the eyes and head from moving forward during the Final Turn,
  • Fully transfer linear (forward) into angular (turning) momentum (increased bat speed).
  • Drive the ball!!

Does Miguel Cabrera Hit Backwards?  Common Mistake #3 (of 4)…

 

Miguel Cabrera REVEALS Torque Timing

Photo courtesy: MLB.com

The third installment to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series, stars 8-time All-Star & 2-Time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.  I’ll show you how hitting instructors get torque timing wrong, causing reciprocal inhibition to occur in reverse.

In this Miguel Cabrera video, we’ll look at:

  • Why walking mechanics hold the key to repeatable power,
  • Whether we should land front foot closed or open?  And
  • Why the timing of torque is important.

Thanks to Bob Hall from Canada for the subject of this video blog article.

 

Walking Mechanics: Key to Repeatable Power?

The following “compression signal” sequence is according to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky’s spine engine mechanics:

  1. Left front leg heel strike – compression signal travels up the leg into the pelvis telling it to open to the right,
  2. The signal continues up the spine into the shoulders, telling them to counter-rotate (left), and
  3. This is why your opposite arm and leg come forward at the same time.
Walking Mechanics

Photo courtesy: WalkezStore.com

Land Front Foot Closed OR Open?

Ryan Braun Front Toe Open

Photo courtesy: OnMilwaukee.com

Big guys like Barry Bonds and Miguel Cabrera land closed (less than 45-degrees). Small guys such as Ryan Braun and Jose Bautista tend to land open (more than 45-degrees).  Which way is the right way?

4 reasons to keep the front toe open (minimum of 45-degree angle):

  1. Joint Connection – Toe closed? So is knee and pelvis.  The compression signal travels fast after heel strike, so pelvis must be in neutral (or parallel to the plate) in order to open without friction,
  2. NO Separation – If toe, knee, and pelvis are closed after compression signal, then front shoulder has to compensate by flying open the same time as the pelvis.  This doesn’t engage our elastic energy systems.
  3. Compensation is Inevitable – We find the closed toe in hitters like Barry Bonds and Miguel Cabrera just end up peeling or jumping open anyway at or shortly after contact.  So why not get the toe out of the way to begin with?
  4. Pitchers Land Open – And also if you look at Olympic Throwers and Shot Putters, they all land open before they throw or “put” their objects.

 

Why the Timing of Torque is IMPORTANT

Jose Bautista Front Toe Open

Photo courtesy: OttawaLife.com

Torque timing in the swing, also known as shoulder-pelvis separation, is often cued wrong.  Instructors often yell, “Fire the Hips!”  In high level swing mechanics, we find the hips (or pelvis) does fire first.  But, the timing coaches cue on is all wrong.  Shoulder-pelvis separation occurs before the front heel touches down, NOT after.

If you missed the following parts to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series:

  • CLICK HERE for Common Mistake #1 featuring Ryan Braun
  • CLICK HERE for Common Mistake #2 featuring Adrian Gonzalez

Stay tuned for Common Mistake #4, where we debunk whether the friction-free swing is pushing or pulling the backside through

Does Adrian Gonzalez Hit Backwards?  Common Mistake #2 (of 4)…

 

Adrian Gonzalez: Power Secret You Are Missing?

Photo credit: MLB.com

In the second installment to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series, starring Adrian Gonzalez, we discuss why “walking away from the hands” doesn’t make sense.  A-Gon is a bigger hitter (*6’2″, 225lbs) who uses human movement science correctly to generate explosive rotational power.

*(According to Baseball-Reference.com)

We’ll use Adrian Gonzalez’s swing to talk about:

  • The simple science of loading,
  • How big hitters get away with ineffective mechanics, and
  • The power secret you are missing.

Contrary to popular belief, “walking away from the hands” is NOT how we load properly.  It decreases turning speed by arm barring.  In the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, if controversial gold medal winning ice skater Adelina Sotnikova could turn faster by barring an arm out, then don’t you think you’d see her do that?

 

The Simple Science of Loading

Cotton Candy Fascia

Photo credit: Thomas Myers

According to the book Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers, the human body is loaded by connective tissue called Fascia, which is:

  • A cotton candy-like material,
  • To the body, like steel is to the building industry,
  • Connective tissue your bones and muscles float in,
  • Gives muscles their shape, and
  • At a constant battle to balance compression and tension forces within the body…Thomas Myers calls this Tensegrity (Tension-Integrity)

Big Hitters Get Away with Ineffective Mechanics

We’re studying the wrong hitters.  Pujols.  Hamilton.  Griffey Jr.  Paul Goldschmidt.

Ken Griffey Jr. was the perfect example of “walking away from the hands”.  People don’t realize, he succeeded despite ineffective mechanics, not because of them.  Here are some other notable athletes getting away with ineffective mechanics:

  • Kevin Durant, NBA’s leading scorer, succeeds despite flawed shooting mechanics.  His knees crash in, which is called Knee Valgus.
  • Tiger Woods succeeded despite being ineffective mechanically, later in his career (4 knee surgeries, in addition to numerous Achilles and back issues). CLICK HERE to read this “Muscle Power Golf, Not!” post about this.
  • Numerous pitchers throw 95+mph despite career shortening flawed mechanics (Kerry Wood and Mark Prior just to name two)

Spend more time analyzing hitters like: Braun, Cano, David Wright, Jose Bautista, McCutchen, Hank Aaron, and Sadaharu Oh (Japan’s career home run leader).  These small-sluggers have to move friction-free (or nearly) to compete.  Big-sluggers with friction-free swings include: Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Chris “Crush” Davis.

 

Power Secret You Are Missing

Of the nine fascial lines mentioned in Thomas Myers’ book Anatomy Trains, the Spiral Fascial Line (SPL) is very important to hitting…according to Thomas Myers:

Science of Loading the Body

Photo credit: Thomas Myers

“The overall movement function of the SPL is to create and mediate spirals and rotations in the body, and, in eccentric and isometric contraction, to steady the trunk and leg to keep it from folding into rotational collapse.”

I call this the ‘Springy X Pattern’.  Imagine an ‘X’ on the front and back of the torso.  When one leg of the ‘X’ shortens, then the other stretches.  Golf training expert Jason Glass of Jason Glass Performance calls these Rotational Power Slings.

Adrian Gonzalez “spring loads” his swing using what I call the Catapult Loading System (CLS).  It takes the Stability ‘X’ Pattern or Rotational Power Sling concepts and applies them to hitting.

Here are a few other world-class spring loaded athletes who’s movements are very similar to a hitter’s:

  1. Golfers,
  2. Olympic Shot Putters
  3. Olympic Throwers – Javelin, Discus, and Hammer
  4. Lacrosse

CLICK HERE in case you missed Part-1 to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitter’s Make video series.  And CLICK HERE for Common Mistake #3, where we look into why a friction-free hitter SHOULD NOT land with the front toe closed

In This Softball Hitting Drills: Andrew McCutchen #1 Fix Video (4 of 4),

 

…of the Do This For Longer Drives softball hitting drills series, we’ll talk about:Softball Hitting Drills: Andrew McCutchen #1 Power Fix

  • #1 Fix to consistent power,
  • Science of compressing the spring, and
  • How Andrew McCutchen and others get springy…

 

#1 Fix to Consistent Power

According to Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains, consistent power doesn’t come from conventional softball hitting drills teaching:

  • Load hands back towards catcher,
  • Pull front arm,
  • Fire back hip,
  • Push back knee forward and/or down, or
  • Pull knob straight to the ball.

According to Dr. Erik Dalton in his collaborative book Dynamic Body, the brain-body connection doesn’t work in this way:

“Modern Science reveals the brain does not recognize individual muscle activities due to lack of practical purpose.”

 

Science of Compressing the Spring

The secret to consistent power lies in springy connective tissue called Fascia…Cotton Candy Springy Fascia

  • Cotton candy or spider web-like material,
  • The bones and muscles float in it,
  • Is made up of mostly stiff collagen…which to the body, is like steel to the building industry,
  • Compression and tension forces are acting within the body at all times, and
  • Compressing the spring happens in an “X” pattern across the front and back of the torso.

I call it the Catapult Loading System.

 

How Andrew McCutchen and Others Get Springy

Watch how similar the following athlete movements are…front shoulder down and back to back hip…

Andrew McCutchen – 2013 NL MVP:

Andrew McCutchen Gets Springy

Paul Rabil – USA Lacrosse, fastest throw on record:

Paul Rabil Springy Lacrosse Throw

Jurgen Schult (German) – Discus World Record Holder (since 1986):

Jurgen Schult (German) - Discus WR Holder

So, when doing softball hitting drills, charge the body’s springy fascial tissue.  This is the #1 fix to consistent power.  CLICK HERE if you missed Part-3: losing force transfer with a bad head-spine connection.

In This Andrew McCutchen Baseball Hitting Drills Video (3 of 4),

 

…of the Do This For Longer Drives series, we’ll talk about:Andrew McCutchen Baseball Hitting Drills Video

  • Breaking the One-Joint Rule,
  • Whether Cutch is ‘kinking the hose’, and
  • How-To re-pattern the impact position.

 

Breaking the One-Joint Rule

From the book, Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance, Dr. Kelly Starrett (KStar) says:

“The musculature [in the spine] is designed to create stiffness so that you can effectively transmit energy to the primary engines of your hips and shoulders.  If you don’t preserve trunk stiffness while moving from your hips and shoulders, you will lose power and force.    The is the basis for the one-joint rule: you should see flexion and extension movement happen at the hips and shoulders, not your spine.”

 

Is Cutch ‘Kinking the Hose’?

Just as kinking the hose while watering the lawn stops the flow of water.  Bending at the spine halts the transfer of energy at impact.  KStar says this about losing head-spine alignment:

“Hinging at one of the segments [vertebraes in the neck]…when we put a hinge across the central nervous system, the body recognizes that as a primary insult, or threat to the body, because you’re basically guillotining or kinking the nervous system.  You’ve kinked ‘the tube’, so it [force production] just drops off.”

 

How-To Re-Pattern the Impact Position

Follow this 12-week exercise progression (at least five days per week):

  • Super plank – week one: 1 set, hold for 30 secs, week two: 1 set, hold for 45 secs, week three: 2 sets, hold for 45 secs
  • Loaded super plank – week four: 2 sets, for 30 secs, week five: 2 sets, for 45 secs, week six: 2 sets, for 60 secs
  • Hip hinge with stick (patterning) – week seven: 2 sets X 12 reps, week eight: 2 sets X 15 reps, week nine: 3 sets X 12 reps
  • Loaded hip hinge (dead-lift) – week ten: 2 sets X 12 reps, week eleven: 2 sets X 15 reps, week twelve: 3 sets X 12 reps

Maintain head-spine alignment.  Perfect reps.  Use Coach’s Eye or Ubersense phone app (free) for feedback.   CLICK HERE for Part-4 for the #1 power fix…also, CLICK HERE if you missed Part-2: the faster turn.

In This Andrew McCutchen Baseball Hitting Video (2 of 4), 

 

…of the Do This For Longer Drives series, we’re going to: Andrew McCutchen Baseball Hitting Video

  • Discuss when barring the front arm is okay,
  • Explore the science of spinning fast,
  • See how effective The Cutch is at turning, and
  • Look at how to work on this at home.

CLICK HERE to watch the – 2 min, 5 second – PBS Circus Physics video about the Conservation of Angular Momentum, or turning faster.

 

Straightening the Front Arm Out…Good or Bad?

Also referred to as bat drag, arm barring, or casting.  Let me clarify:

  • Arm barring GOOD: to make an impact adjustment to outside or lower pitches, and through extension
  • Arm Barring BAD: before and during the front heel touching down, and before  barrel whips back towards catcher’s glove

 

The Science of Spinning Fast

IF straightening the front arm out before the front heel touches down proves for a faster turn, then why doesn’t controversial 2014 Gold Medal winning ice skater Adelina Sotnikova do this during one of her big turning jumps?

Because it’s ineffective for humans to quickly turn this way.  When Adelina wants to slow down, she extends her arms and legs away from her body.  In hitting, it’s important to turn fast, stay compact, and do it early.  Before the barrel gets onto the plane of the pitch.  In which case, the front arm needs to stay slightly bent.

WHY?

Because if the hitter bars the front arm out early, they will spin slower, which will force the hitter to make a decision to swing the bat sooner.  Translation, the hitter has LESS reaction time!  AND will be vulnerable to inside and higher pitches in the zone because of their higher perceived velocity to the hitter, according to Perry Husband’s EV system.

If we keep a slight bend in the front elbow, then we have the option to keep it bent and spin faster (if we need to on the inside or high pitch), or we can let the front arm extend on pitches down or outside because these pitches are perceived slower (via Perry’s EV system), and the hitter has more time to get to those pitches.

 

Did Cutch Pass the Turning Speed Test?

In the above Andrew McCutchen baseball hitting video, science clearly says that ‘Cutch’ can in fact turn faster during his Final Turn.

However in this Andrew McCutchen baseball hitting video, he can get away with it because of his shorter arm span in comparison to a hitter with a longer one, like Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera would have to stand farther off the plate to make an early arm bar work.  Similar to what Ken Griffey Jr. did.

And as we’ll discover what force bleeding compensation he makes – possibly – because of his early arm barring in Part-3 of the Andrew Mccutchen baseball hitting video: Do This For Longer Drives video series.

 

How Do We Practice a Faster Turn at Home?

  1. Break the swing into two-steps: 1) To the Fight Position (Landing), and 2) the Final Turn
  2. Use a mirror or batting tee
  3. Video analysis feedback – either Coach’s Eye app (free for android) or Ubersense app (free for iphone)
  4. Hitter “hides their hands from the pitcher”, while keeping a slight bend in the front arm
  5. Going into the Final Turn, the hitter will try and “crush the catcher’s glove” without extending the front arm

CLICK HERE for Part-3: Do This For Longer Drives: Andrew McCutchen baseball hitting video series, where we look to see if Cutch breaks the One-Joint Rule…If you missed Part-1, then CLICK HERE.

In This Softball Hitting Tips Video,

 

Softball Hitting Tips Video: Bat Speed Killer!

These softball hitting tips work for baseball too.

…We’ll be talking about softball hitting tips that work well for baseball too. What happens when a hitter doesn’t optimally use the Conserving Angular Momentum to fit a softball or baseball swing outcome:

  • Problems and compensations, and
  • What you can do to fix it.

This video compares a…

…Two-week swing period from one of my ten-year-old baseball hitters, Mikey.  It doesn’t matter whether we talk baseball or softball hitting tips, it’s human movement principles we should be concerned with.  It’s just amazing how one small change can have such a profound effect on bat speed.

 

Clarification on the front arm barring out…

  • ARM Barring Bad: when it happens up to the Fight Position and/or during bat lag or drag.
  • ARM Barring Okay: when we get to contact.  You see Big Leaguers do this when they’re adjusting to reach pitches lower in the zone or towards the outside part.

Please realize that a hitter swinging with an early arm bar will cause them to rotate slower, leaving them susceptible to fastballs up or inside the strike zone.

I’m not talking about the shape of the front arm at impact, which if straighter will increase Ball Exit Speed.  I teach my hitters to start bent, then let the pitch location dictate whether that front arm gets to bent or not at impact.

See, hitters don’t know what pitch type, speed, or location beforehand.  So our softball or baseball swing must build in that margin for error.

 

How-to Fix:

  1. Break the swing apart into two steps: 1) To the Fight Position (Landing), 2) Go into the Final Turn.
  2. NO extra movement with the hands going back is allowed before hitter proceeds to step-two above.
  3. Once they get to the Fight Position, tell the hitter to move the upper body as “one piece” to get into the Final Turn.
  4. Doing this while hitting a heavy bag would be great because it allows the hitter to go into the Final Turn at game speed, and gives instant feedback to the contact position

 

Resources:

CLICK HERE for short video on Conserving Angular Momentum from the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) on Circus Physics.

In This Baseball Hitting Video Rotational Truth,

 

We’re going over how:

  • The Truth course is backed by proven human movement science,
  • There are FOUR main sections,
  • The entire course works on any smart mobile device, and
  • Easy access to community support.

 

Re-Launch of The Truth About Explosive Rotational Power

Baseball Hitting Video Rotational Truth Minute TourThe Course is backed by science.  Absolutely NO guessing involved.  The Truth Course will walk you through EIGHT-Steps to consistent explosive rotational power.

Besides what you’ll see in the baseball hitting video rotational truth, some of the main BENEFITS to The Truth About Explosive Rotational Power Course are:
  • Information is backed by proven scientific PRINCIPALS
  • 182 members and counting!
  • Support System is second-to-none (for anything that’s unclear)
  • There are OVER Eight hours of mobile device compatible videos.
  • Watch the whole Course anywhere with an internet connection!
  • No-questions-asked 60-Day Money Back Guarantee
  • And a whole lot more…

CLICK HERE to invest in The Truth About Explosive Rotational Power after watching the baseball hitting video rotational truth minute tour now.

In This Baseball Hitting Video Spine Mistake,

 

We’re going over:

  • The One-Joint Rule (how-to test “Spinal Integrity”, also known as head and spine alignment),
  • Spine Engine Theory (how ALL athletic movement is driven), and
  • Tensegrity, OR Tension Integrity (discover how explosive the body’s own natural springiness can be).

Here’s a video of Physical Therapist Dr. Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD.com demonstrating the One-Joint Rule:

In case you missed it, in the above video, Dr. Kelly Starrett said:

“Hinging at one of the segments [vertebraes in the neck]…when we put a hinge across the central nervous system, the body recognizes that as a primary insult, or threat to the body, because you’re basically guillotining or kinking the nervous system.  You’ve kinked ‘the tube’, so it [force production] just drops off.”

He also mentioned:

“The spine has major potential to decrease your force production.”

Here’s video of 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen breaking his head and spine alignment.  This is actually a semi-common hitting power mistake made by quite a few of my young hitters – as you’ll see in a bit.  Scary to think that Andrew McCutchen was bleeding force at impact with the numbers he put up this past year:

Baseball Hitting Video Spine Mistake Andrew McCutchen

Watch Cutch’s chin nod to his chest at and through contact…

The first baseball hitting video spine mistake was leaked from The Truth About Explosive Rotational Power online video course.  This is all a part of the human movement rules.  As you can see, breaking our spinal integrity at contact can have a bleeding force effect on performance.

Two Quick Tips For A Faster Turn,

 

Robinson Cano Baseball Hitting Mechanics Video Reveals...

…We’ll be comparing one of my eleven-year-olds Ian to Robinson Cano:

  • If he’s “hiding his hands” from the pitcher,
  • How his front elbow is creating barrel path mayhem,
  • How Robinson Cano uses the Catapult Loading System, and
  • What does Ian need to work on?

In this Robinson Cano Baseball Hitting Mechanics Video…

I wanted to show a snapshot in time of one of my eleven-year-old hitters.  Ian is working on staying short with his limbs – pre-landing position – in order to turn faster.  His front arm tends to move back towards the catcher too much, which causes it to bar out and turn his torso slower.

We can break the swing up into two steps: 1) To landing (or the Fight Position), and Final Turn.  75% of consistency and power is taken care of in Step One.  Here’s the drill Ian will use in the video for correction…

 

Break It Apart Mirror Drill

  1. Get into stance with front shoulder facing mirror or picture window,
  2. Get to fight position (Landing), and
  3. Make sure you’ve hidden your hands from view – like a boxer would when he’s going to deliver the knock out blow.

CLICK HERE or watch below, another one of my Robinson Cano baseball hitting mechanics YouTube videos that I did for SwingSmarter.com: