Aluminum Bats: Easton Maco Torq

Easton Mako Torq Aluminum Bats: WORST Mistake You Can Make Right Now

 

Aluminum Bats: Easton Mako Torq

Photo courtesy: Easton.com

Let me be clear about the objective of this article.  There are bats, and there are hitting aids.  Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats have attempted to fuse both together.  This is fine, but the price point is high ($280-550) when compared to a simplified alternative.

We HAVE to scrutinize hitting aids with science, like we do efficient hitting movements.  If you haven’t heard of Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats yet, then here you go…

Key product marketing differentiation says they use “360-degree Torq Rotating Handle Technology”.  Easton’s claim is to stop a hitter from rolling their hands over at contact.  Their launch video says these aluminum bats help to be “short to the ball”, “square up more pitches”, “get to the zone faster”, and “stay in the zone longer”.

Let’s answer these THREE questions:

  • Is rolling over a big problem?
  • What do cues like being “short to the ball” really mean? And,
  • What is a better more affordable hitting aid than the Easton Mako Torq?

 

Is Rolling Over a Big Problem?

HUGE!  Three reasons why:

  1. Youth level coaches instruct players to hit the ball on the ground because fielders can’t play catch,
  2. Misinformed coaches have “hands” dominant swing approaches, and
  3. Coaches use rapid fire “quick hands” toss drills.

Point #1 doesn’t transfer to the bigger field, where 95+% of ground-balls are outs.  The hands DO NOT create bat speed on their own.  They merely amplify energy transfer originating in the torso.

Point #3 isn’t practicing like we’re going to play. A hitter has around 20-30 seconds between each pitch, so the goal is NOT how many balls we can hit in five seconds.

What Do Cues like Being “Short to the Ball” Really Mean?

Mako Torq Aluminum Bats: Short to the ball? (Ryan Braun)

Ryan Braun photo courtesy: MLB.com

The marketing for Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats promise – that by using their bat – a hitter will:

  • “Be short to the ball”,
  • “Square up more pitches”,
  • “Get to the zone faster”, and
  • “Stay in the zone longer”.

Let’s briefly break these claims down…

“Be short to the ball”

It’s not how short a hitter can be to the ball, but how quickly they can get the barrel on the plane of the pitch.  Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats DO NOT help with this.

“Square up more pitches”

If rolling handle technology can counteract a hitter from rolling their wrist over at contact, then this may be true, sometimes.  Squaring up more pitches has MORE to do with a hitter’s timing.  Also, where a hitter makes contact in the impact zone can be the difference between hitting the sweet spot consistently or not.  Unfortunately, the Easton Maco Torq DOES NOT help with timing or a hitter’s contact point.

“Get to the zone faster”

Getting to the zone (impact zone I assume) is all about the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  Since a hitter doesn’t know which type of pitch, speed, and location beforehand, it’s a race – after a decision to swing has been made – to get the barrel on the pitch plane as soon as possible.  In order to spin faster, the hitter MUST stay tight in the turn until the barrel is on plane.

“Stay in the Zone longer”

Here’s where I think Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats hit the mark.  IF – and it is a BIG “if” – these bats can stop rolling over, then a hitter’s “stay through” will get better.  But at a price ($280-550).  And once the hitter has to swing a normal “one-piece” bat, then I’m not sure if the anti-roll over mechanics would transfer.  I don’t see higher levels adopting Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats.

 

What is a Better More Affordable Hitting Aid than the Easton Mako Torq?

Aluminum Bats: Prohammer Bat

ProHammer Bat photo courtesy: PHBat.com

Easton Mako Torq aluminum bats are an expensive fusion of bat and hitting aid.  If you’re looking for a hitting aid that:

  • Provides great feedback for rolling OR not rolling the wrist at contact
  • Hitters can use for dry swings, tee, soft toss, and LIVE batting practice…
  • Improves eye-hand coordination with a slim hit-able surface…AND…

Post UPDATE: By the way, about a couple months after publishing this YouTube and article (when it began to gain serious traction – and as of this ‘update’ the video has been viewed almost 80K times on YouTube), one of Easton’s engineers contacted me VERY unprofessionally.  Clearly he had a bone to pick.  Saying I had zero ground to stand on, and how could I ‘bad mouth’ their precious Mako Torq technology…that I didn’t know what I was talking about.  What’s laughable is that this “engineer” couldn’t supply me with credible studies that supported their claims…he said they had them, but he wouldn’t share.  Hmmmm…

Let me be clear, I LOVE Easton bats, and preferred them well over Louisville Slugger’s. However, I don’t agree with their opinion on Torq technology benefits.

From what I’ve heard, Easton purchased the patent from a High School player who made the technology, in wood shop class, to alleviate pain in his wrist when swinging.  IT WORKED!!  If Easton would have marketed it based on that, there would be no discussion.  But I feel they stretched the technology truth a bit too much.  You be the judge.

Paul Goldschmidt: Can a Bleeding Barrel Kill Hitting Potential?

 

Paul Goldschmidt Youth Hitting Case Study

My 9yo hitter Collin bleeding his barrel. Swings are synced, before (on the left) & after (on the right)

In this video, we’ll look at 2013 National League MVP runner up Paul Goldschmidt’s swing and relate it to one of my younger hitters.  We’ll talk about:

  • What is a bleeding barrel (1-week before & after case study),
  • The “Goldy” standard, and
  • How-to fix a bleeding barrel at home.

 

What is a “Bleeding Barrel” (1-week before & after case study)

I’ve been working on this with one of my young hitters, Collin.  Bleeding the barrel is when the barrel starts to launch (turn into the hitting zone) before the hitter’s front foot touches down.

It’s caused by a premature turning of the shoulders, and is very inefficient when it comes to transferring energy.  In order to load powerful springy fascia and connective tissue in the torso, the front shoulder must stay in and down towards the back hip, at front foot touch down.  CLICK HERE for similar analysis comparing Josh Donaldson (Oakland A’s) to Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays).

The week following my young hitter Collin’s AFTER video, he was bleeding his barrel again.  The cause?  His dad said a coach was doing rapid-fire soft toss before games.  Needless to say, Collin’s dad had a talk with the coach.

 

The “Goldy” Standard

Paul Goldschmidt: Bleeding Barrel - A Power Killer?

Paul Goldschmidt photo courtesy: MLB.com

Notice Paul Goldschmidt (pictured to the right) at front foot touch down:

  • His barrel angle is up (70-degree angle), and
  • He’s showing his numbers to the pitcher  (see video above).

Most importantly, taking care of point #2 above will stop the bleeding barrel.

Can Paul Goldschmidt do better?  According to Baseball-Reference.com, he stands at 6’3″, and weighs 245 lbs.  With this line, he can get away with inefficient mechanics and still hit for decent power.  His average home-run total per 162-game season is only 29.  For how big he is, he can average over 40 homers per season.

Here are a couple things I’d love to see change in Goldy’s swing:

  1. More forward momentum,
  2. Better down shoulder angle (side bending in the spine),
  3. Hide his hands a little more from the pitcher, and
  4. Extend up and back over the catcher more (he was a little out front on this pitch).

 

How-To Fix a Bleeding Barrel at Home

Remember to use Variance in the following scenario.  Three steps to stop the bleeding barrel:

  1. Break Swing into 2-Steps (1-2 second pause between): 1) Fight Position (landing), and 2) Final Turn – focus on showing the hitter’s numbers to the pitcher at the Fight Position, and keep a barrel angle around 45-55 degrees.
  2. Check-Swing Drill – get hitter to show they can keep from bleeding the barrel to impact.
  3. Put Swing Together – once they get here, then progress them from tee, to soft toss, to LIVE batting practice.  If they can hold together their mechanics, then the brain has ingrained the movement.

CLICK HERE to get more information on my online hitting lessons program The Feedback Lab.

Baseball Lessons Online: Aidan B., Illinois

Online Baseball Lessons: Dead Simple Plan I Used To Help Aidan in Illinois…

 

…when I’m in California!!

Baseball Lessons Online: Aidan B., Illinois

Aidan B. (15 yo) all AFTER photos courtesy: Dad

Aidan B. (15 yo) signed up for online baseball lessons back in the middle of April 2014 when I opened The Feedback Lab.  What is The Feedback Lab?

It’s the #1 strategy to repeatable power. It’s clear focused step-by-step video feedback & accountability in less than 48-hours.

The 90-Day Sprint empowers parents and coaches to help young hitters achieve their full potential of consistent power through scientific movement principles, and sticky coaching strategies proven with empirical research.

This baseball lessons blog post will show the dead simple plan we used to build repeatable power into Aidan B.’s swing.  We’ll go over:

  • Aidan’s before and after swing (2-week difference),
  • The “WHY” behind the change, and
  • 2-steps to spinal extension & “getting shorter”.

 

 Aidan’s Before & After Swing (2-week difference)

This video is a snapshot of Aidan’s swing from June 6-17th, 2014).  The swing was captured during soft toss.  In my notes,

  • BEFORE – on June 6th, Aidan had an excessive side bend at the waist after contact, and had a back leg angle of 115 degrees after impact.
  • AFTER – on June 17th, Aidan was extending up and over the catcher with his spine, and had a 105 degree bend in his back leg after contact.

Baseball lessons result?  More repeatable power.

 

The “WHY” Behind the Change

Baseball Lessons Online: Aidan B., Illinois

The challenges Aidan B. from Illinois was having were faulty spine engine mechanics, and not getting on plane with the pitch…here’s the baseball lessons breakdown:

  • Spine Engine Mechanics (according to Dr. Serge Gracovetsky) – During the Final Turn, the spine NEEDS to freely spring up and back over the catcher (extend through the head).  This is because we’ve already engaged two of three possible spine engine movements: 1) Side bending (down shoulder angle), and 2) Axial rotation (showing pitcher our numbers) before stride foot lands.
  • Get on Pitch Plane – And in order to get on a level plane with a downward traveling pitch, we must “get shorter” with the back leg.  The back foot placement has a role of swing stability as well.

To see the latter point in action, CLICK HERE for my YouTube video analysis of Barry Bonds.

 

2-Steps to Spinal Extension & “Getting Shorter”

Baseball Lessons Online: Aidan B., Illinois

  1. Back Foot Variance Drill – sets the back foot into a more stable position to get a good efficient stacked spinal lean.
  2. Lean Drill – using RNT (Reactive Neuromuscular Training) to “feed the mistake”.

If you’re interested in baseball lessons online (or softball), then CLICK HERE to get more information about The Feedback Lab.  

 

 

 

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 Chris Davis Hit Backwards?  Common Mistake #4 (of 4)…

 

Chris Davis Deep Barrel

Chris Davis deep barrel photo courtesy: MLB.com

The last installment to the Hitting Backwards: 4 Common Mistakes Hitters Make video series, looks at the swing of 2013 MLB home-run leader Chris Davis.

“Being short to the ball” is disastrous to repeatable power.  We can be ‘compact’, but ‘swinging down on the ball’ in order to be ‘short to the ball’ is NOT what the best do.

Get “on pitch plane” with the barrel as soon as possible is what I tell my hitters to do.

In this Chris Davis video, we’ll look at:

  • The science of barrel path,
  • 5 Problems with being “short to the ball”, and
  • When the barrel should accelerate.

 

The Science of Barrel Path

  • Center spinning axis (the spine and torso)
  • Centripetal Force = center-seeking (arms and hands)
  • Centrifugal Force = center-fleeing (barrel)

5 Problems with “Being Short to the Ball”

Some write off what Chris Davis does here as being above average in size and weight, in other words, “he’s just strong and can get away with doing it like this.” I beg to differ…Aaron Miles told me that a downward traveling barrel (to impact) hitter doesn’t last past AA-ball.

Here are 5 PROBLEMS with ‘being short’:

Ryan Braun Deep Barrel

Is Ryan Braun ‘being short to the ball’ by today’s conventional standards? Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  1. Jab v. Knockout punch
  2. Rather get hit by a train going 30mph, or motorcycle going 60mph?
  3. NOT in hitting zone very long
  4. Weakness to off speed and breaking balls
  5. Focuses barrel acceleration at the wrong time

 

When the Barrel Should Accelerate

Here’s how Chris Davis transfers energy and uses Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces in his swing:

  • Potential Energy – made up of his height, weight, joint mobility and stability, bat length and weight.
  • Kinetic (moving) Energy – he un-weights the bat with forward momentum, then transfers that into angular (turning) momentum…
  • Barrel – because of the barrel’s moving inertia, Davis fights center-fleeing Centrifugal Forces early by keeping his front arm slightly bent to increase the speed of his body’s rotation, AND to accelerate the barrel.  Then as his barrel “turns the corner”…
  • Ball – …it gets on plane early, body to barrel to ball energy transfer is almost complete…Chris Davis finally gets long through contact with his arms (center-fleeing Centrifugal Forces).

If after reading this Chris Davis video post, you missed Parts 1-3, here they are:

  1. Ryan Braun: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #1 (Sitting Back)
  2. Adrian Gonzalez: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #2 (Walking Away from the Hands)
  3. Miguel Cabrera: Common Mistakes Hitters Make #3 (Timing of Torque)
Baseball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

In This Baseball Hitting Tips Video,

 

…we’re going over howBaseball Hitting Tips: Barry Bonds Getting Shorter

  • To use the body – not the hands – to get “on-plane” with the pitch,
  • Barry Bonds makes hitting the long ball look easy, and
  • Most young hitters get the #1 long ball secret wrong (and how to correct it).

A few weeks ago I worked with a 12-U Little League team from Bakersfield California called the Sliders.  They recently came to Fresno for a tournament and DOMINATED.

One of the moms Sheri – her son is Alex in the above video – emailed me a testimonial:

“The boys won first place! Ben, Paul and Dylan hit their first home runs ever! They went undefeated for entire tourney! We’re going to round table pizza to treat all the boys!”

The three young men who hit their first home-runs had worked with me for the first time, a week before the tournament.  Now, this wasn’t all me, but wasn’t a coincidence either.  Before I worked with them, all three boys naturally had a little forward momentum working for them.  And, Sliders Coach Justin Karr has been working the baseball hitting tips system with his team for over a year now.

In the baseball hitting tips video, Barry Bonds gets on plane with the pitch very well by lowering his body.  He does this by creating an “L” with his back leg to and through contact.  Whereas the moment Alex’s front heel hits the ground, he ‘stands up’ causing ball flight to be low.  Alex would have to get “on-plane” with his hands, which is very inconsistent.

 

Snapping Towel (Lean) Drill Setup:

  • NEED: light exercise band with handles, AND decent sized carabiner,
  • Loop exercise band handles to carabiner, then to chain link fence, OR
  • Parent/Coach holds exercise band handles, and finally
  • Have hitter loop band under armpits.

In the baseball hitting tips video above, I mentioned breaking the swing apart into two steps:

  1. To the Fight Position (landing), and
  2. The Final Turn.

You’ll see Olympic Hammer Throwers lower their backside as well.  This enables the release of the hammer at an optimal forty-five degree angle.  CLICK HERE to watch a World Record holding Hammer Thrower lower his backside while rotating.

In This Baseball Hitting Mechanics Video,

…We’re comparing the “Fight” position of one of my young hitters to Robinson Cano. You’ll discover a little known technical flaw limiting explosive rotational power. Cleaning this up gears the body for a more effective turn.

We’re going over:

  • What is an optimal “Fight Position”
  • Hitter compensations associated with a bad Fight Position
  • How-to get into a good Fight Position

It’s amazing how many flaws happen before the Final Turn evens takes place.  I would say 75% of the mechanical breakdown can be solved before the Final Turn takes place.  Robinson Cano has such a friction-free swing that it’s critical we copy his pre-turn positioning.  He’s one of the most consistently powerful guys in the game, and not very big by today’s standards.

Here’s Robinson Cano in the 2013 home-run derby:

Backside Baseball Hitting Mechanics Robinson Cano

Back view: Notice how his hands push back towards first base dugout, and elbow comes up and out of the way…

Baseball Hitting Mechanics: Robinson Cano

Front view: see how he’s hiding his hands from the pitcher and showing his numbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

In This Baseball Hitting Mechanics Video,

 

…I analyze one of my eighth graders Zack, and we uncover the #1 simple tip can overcome bad hitting technique:Baseball Hitting Mechanics Video: #1 Simple Tip to Overcome Bad Hitting Technique

  • “How to make your everyday stance your fight stance, and your fight stance your everyday stance” – Musashi, a famous Japanese Samurai swordsman
  • The Snapping Towel Effect: getting the body moving,
  • The Snapping Towel Effect: the snap back, and
  • How Zack can improve…

CLICK HERE for an MLB case study YouTube video I did on David Ortiz looking into how Big Papi used the same Snapping Towel Metaphor in the 2013 Playoffs.

I’ll be doing a lot of baseball hitting mechanics video case studies of my own hitting students.  Some where I do before and afters of their own swing.  And other times, comparing their swing to a small-bopper I think is relevant to them.  I think these case studies help coaches and instructors eliminate the excuse of how young hitters can’t develop high level mechanics.

The main objective of the Hitting Performance Lab is to show we’re not arguing about linear versus rotational mechanics.  It’s that we’re discussing human movement.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female.  Young or mature.  Baseball or softball.  We’re talking about how the human body is designed to efficiently move.

In This Baseball Hitting Video Trick For Longer Drives,

 

Baseball Hitting Video Trick For Longer Drives…I analyze one of my young hitters Jarred, comparing his most recent swing to another about six months prior:

  • We analyze how consistent he’s being with his Float, Fall, and Fight Position (Landing),
  • How his spinal alignment got better, and
  • What baseball hitting drill he needs to be working on to clean up his Fight Position.

In the beginning, Jarred was one of those hitters who came in turning and burning on every pitch.  Head flying out.  Shoulders doing the same.  Very inconsistent with his power.  Once I got him to realize the swing isn’t all about muscle activation, but about using the forces of gravity to give him a “head-start”, he started seeing the ball rocket off his barrel.

You see, it’s all about technique.  Not athleticism.  Sure the latter helps.  But it doesn’t mean a small hitter can’t out-slug a bigger one…just look at how Andrew McCutchen (5’10”, 190lbs*) beat out Paul Goldschmidt (6’3″, 245lbs*) for the 2013 NL MVP.

(*Baseball-Reference.com)

For more baseball hitting video trick information, CLICK HERE to watch a four-minute video where Dr. Kelly Starrett reveals a simple Spine Integrity Test you can do with your players right away.

Also, I’d be forever grateful if you SHARE THIS POST to Facebook or Twitter.  The more people we can help educate the BETTER!  You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Subscribe to my YouTube Channel HitPerformLab above.  And of course, if you have any questions or comments on this post, please direct them below…thanks for watching!