Posts

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting Mentioning 1 Shocking Swing Mistake He Didn't Make…

 

 

Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting

Check out the iconic Gary Sheffield barrel tilt-waggle – almost parallel to the ground! Photo courtesy: MLB Network

In this Gary Sheffield Talks Hitting video, 500 Home Run Club member Gary Sheffield talks about his hitting style, plate approach and adjustments to different ballparks with Mark DeRosa, Bill Ripken and Robert Flores on MLB Central.  Some of what you'll find in the video:

  • 1 shocking swing mistake Sheffield didn't make,
  • Pitch recognition that Gary Sheffield is talking about,
  • Change your stance depending on the field?
  • What does focus on staying to the right of your left side mean? And,
  • Making swing adjustments because of injury to compete…

For your convenience below, I've time stamped my notes, so you can jump to wherever the conversation interests you…

  • At about the 3-minute, 20-second mark, Sheffield talks about how after hitting 40+ homers between his AA and AAA season, he was brought up to MLB club and the powers at be tried to “flatten his bat” (for him a mistake he didn't make).  Because they wanted a leadoff speed guy who hits the ball to right field.  When he got to San Diego, they wanted him to pick up the ball at 3rd base, they didn't expect him to hit.  This was disrespectful to Sheffield.  He went from a guy not just trying to get on base, but to do damage.
  • At about the 4-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about his famous bat tilt-waggle, and how it's all in the fingers. To get a nice relaxed crisp move with the fingers.  Like dancing.
  • At about the 5-minute mark, Sheffield talks about picking pitcher up at release to differentiate what he's throwing.  Pitch recognition.  He doesn't care what the pitcher does before that moment.  He said he looked for the heater and nothing changed on that approach throughout his career.  He wants the pitcher to fool him.  He doesn't want to miss on the fastball.  All he wants to know is what is the pitcher's out pitch – the one he goes to the most when he needs it. Doesn't swing at fork balls.  He groups the fastball and slider together – as one pitch.
  • At about the 7-minute mark, Gary Sheffield talks about how he adjusts his stance depending on the park he's playing in.  Examples…in San Diego the dimensions are fair, so he uses all fields.  At “fair” parks he didn't feel like hitting the ball oppo made him lose something.   In Florida with the Marlins, he got closer to the plate and became strictly a pull hitter because of short fence in left field. Homers came by way of left and left center, rarely to center.  Goal of double digit homers to opposite field, so he was almost guaranteed 30 to 40 homers per year.  Billy Ripken made the comment that he's never heard of anyone else who did this, except maybe when hitting at Fenway.  Dodger stadium was “fair” to him.  Mentioned at night it got dewey there, ball didn't fly as far.  His strength was center field in LA.
  • At about 9-minute mark, Sheffield talks about his right elbow position to be ready to “punch”.  Athletic position.  Legs up under him.  When hitting he just thinks about his left side.  Tells his kids to cut the left side out.  Focus on being to the right of your left side.  Walking in the batter's box sideways, so he knows he's in the same spot every time.  He wants to work sideways, so he can stay behind his left side.
  • At about 11-minute mark, Sheffield his swing is dominant front arm.  Front arm goes straight to the ball.  Billy Ripken talks about “squashing a bug“.  They all comment on Gary Sheffield's bat waggle and how parallel the barrel got to the ground at one point in the swing.  Sheffield talked about an injury he had to his right foot, plantar fasciitis, that required him to skip/hop his back foot.  Had to unlearn later.  Interesting confession on making an adjustment to compete.
Tee Drills With Adam Eaton

Tee Drills: Adam Eaton Speaks High Inside Pitch Approach Truth

 

 

Tee Drills With Adam Eaton

Adam Eaton photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this tee drills with Adam Eaton video, some main points Adam Eaton covers:

  • Ball flight tells you everything,
  • Demonstrates how REAL high level barrel path is on high inside pitches,
  • How most get the cue ‘stay inside the ball' wrong, and how to use it properly, and
  • Tee drills tip for putting the high tee on steroids!

 

Make sure you watch the brief 5-minute 30-Clubs in 30-Days Adam Eaton interview before diving into my notes below.  I time stamped the above video for quick and easy reference…

  • At the 0:45 mark, Adam Eaton talks about how tee drills are the most important part of the day.  According to the tee drills naysayers out there, man oh man, how many Big Leaguers are doing it “wrong”.  Haha!
  • At the 1:30 mark, while working tee drills, DeRo asks if Adam Eaton is worried about his hands, bat path, what?  And Adam responds by saying, ball flight tells you everything.  If ball flight is clean, he knows his body is in the right position.
  • At the 2:30 mark, Adam talks about letting ball get to belt buckle on pitches away.  He clarifies you aren't actually going to hit it there in the game.  Feel cue, pure and simple.  Interesting he mentions getting on plane quickly here in reference to outside pitch.  This is when deep barrel dump is okay.  Adam mentions his powerful impact position checkpoints: palm up palm down, hardly any bend in the front arm (he actually works on this!!), and nice bend in back arm (90-degrees).
  •  At the 2:55 mark, Adam Eaton talks about high inside tee drills. Uncomfortable drill because it feels like you're crowding yourself.  But it teaches body control and to control the shoulders.  “Blackout moment” defined as an experience when body takes over without thinking because you've practiced it so many times.  And just before the 4-minute mark watch him demonstrate how he gets to that high inside pitch — he keeps the barrel up, above his hands, until last possible second.  Much different barrel path he'd take to a pitch away.  I talk to my hitters about the difference between hitting a catcher's glove perpendicular to the hitter's “belly button” (inner third part of plate), versus knocking off the real catcher's glove (outer third part of plate).
  • On these tee drills, Adam Eaton talks a lot about ‘keeping hands inside the ball'.  The cue is great for hitters that do the opposite – hook the ball a lot.  And ‘get barrel around the ball' works brilliantly for hitters with racing back elbow or who tend to push the ball opposite a lot.  Over the years I've learned that every hitting feel cue has their place.  We used to laugh, cajole, and mock Major Leaguers when we'd hear them say things like ‘get on top', ‘swing down on the ball', or like in Adam Eaton's case ‘stay inside the ball'.  These cues do work, but mostly to the hitters who do the opposite of what these cues suggest.  It's called Paradoxical Intention.
  • Also note on Adam Eaton's slow motion game swings how virtually straight his front arm is at stride landing.  He's not a big guy, 5-foot, 8-inches, and only 176-pounds.  He can lever up that front arm because of a shorter wingspan for sure.  I've seen him do this on outside pitches as well as inside.  Although, here's the catch on the inner half of the plate, you have to take the barrel path approach he demonstrated on the high tee drill.  In addition to training my hitters to use a longer front arm on the high pitch, I also make them do it with an end loaded heavy bat.  Makes the drill even more uncomfortable – as Adam Eaton put it – BUT if they can accomplish it at that pitch location, everywhere else is gravy.
Matt Chapman Swing Analysis

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis: Metrics, Shifting Foot Pressure, OK Head Movement, & When Barrel Enters Zone Matters…

 

 

Hey, what's going on it's Joey Myers from the Hitting Performance Lab.  In this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post, we're going to go over a few different things…

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis

Matt Chapman swing analysis photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • We're going to look at Matt Chapman in FanGraphs – put a little context to him,
  • Talk about shifting foot pressure,
  • Forward momentum and whether head movement is OK,
  • Getting shorter and staying shorter,
  • And then we are going to end with Barrel Path – being on time versus out in front.

Let's get started…

Part of this Matt Chapman swing analysis is looking at the context of his numbers and metrics.He's about six-foot two hundred and twenty pounds. In 2019, he had 36 homers, 36 doubles, hit about .249 the year before. Hit .278 with 24 homers and 42 doubles.

A little moderate on the strikeout versus his walk ratio. It looks a little bit more like a three to one type ratio. And if we look at his batted ball totals, 15.5 percent line drive rate in 2019, the league average is 20 percent. So that's a little bit below average.

His ground ball percentage, 41.5, League average is about 43 percent. So he's right about league average there.

But you can see here in his fly ball percentage 43.1 Percent, he's well above average there, average is 37 percent. So definitely something there, to get the ball out of the air a little bit and more on the line drive level.

His home run to fly ball ratio is 19 percent. So it's actually pretty good. Well above average at 9.5 percent as the league average.

 

Matt Chapman Swing Analysis: Shifting Foot Pressure

All right. Let's take a look at shifting foot pressure in this Matt Chapman swing analysis, but before we get there…

I want to give context to a couple of the pitches. We're going to look at three different at bats on three different nights. And with this pitch here from Bartolo Colon, you're going to see it's a way out or third. And the pitch speed is about 89-mph, possibly some sort of slider, maybe, that he keeps on the outside corner.

The plate over here, we can see that it's still outer third, maybe a little bit closer to the middle than the pitch before. 84-mph, probably some sort of change up or slider.

Let's take a look at the swing here on the left first. We're looking for shifting foot pressure. And what we want to see up until stride landing, is we want to see foot pressure on the outside of the front one, we want inside of the front one.

And then what we're going to see is, we're going to see that switch and over here on this swing, you can see that that toe almost picks up a little bit as he's transitioning from the outside to the inside. Here you can see the switch happening, swing and transfer.

Now we're going to switch to inside of the back foot, outside of the front foot. And you can see on the back big toe on that big toe knuckle back here that he is staying on that back big toe knuckle to keep that foot pressure.

And then you see the front foot on the outside portion of the foot. Now, this swing over here, you're going to see a similar thing happen where he's going to be more foot pressure on the outside, inside of the front foot as that front foot approaches the ground. You're going to see this shift happen where you might see the bottom of the foot, slightly. Where it kind of peels off where the pressure transfers from inside to outside.

This time, instead of the back big toe knuckle, you're seeing it more to the inside of the back, big toe. The third swing in this Matt Chapman swing analysis was located down and in 85-mph. Maybe a cutter or slider down and in.

And you're seeing the same type of foot pressure where it starts outside the back foot, inside the front foot, till about right here. And then we start to see it shift over and the sides reverse. So, we go inside the back foot, outside the front foot.

A little too much focus is being put with coaches, nowadays, on this back knee, and trying to keep it inside the back foot, where I think an easier solution would be to work foot pressure with hitters.

And this is something that they can just do in the room. They don't have to hit off of a tee. But I've seen hitters that over rotate their lower half, young ones, almost miraculously start looking like Matt Chapman with his shifting foot pressure … when they start doing the shifting foot pressure.

 

Forward Momentum – Is Head Movement Okay?

Now let's talk about forward momentum and head movement. A lot of coaches out there don't like to see head movement at all. In this Matt Chapman swing analysis, you're going to see that him, much like many others, have head movement.  Head goes forward and down. Some just go forward.

What we should see is this forward and down or just forward. Let's take a look here on the left. You're going to see the head move from the top back circle to the bottom forward circle.

And then the other important note here is that at landing, the head stops moving, and should stay within that circle there. A lot of times with younger hitters, we see their head move outside of this circle. It keeps moving as they start their turn. We do not want head movement during that turn itself. But all the way from the start of the swing to stride landing, head movement is OK.

Over here in the same, different swing, you're going to see the same head just shift and stay within that bottom ring. But we see the head move from up and back to down and forward. And then just stay within that circle through the turn itself.

Here's the other swing on the right. You're going to see again head starts in the up back circle, and it's going to end up in the forward down circle. And then from there during the turn, you're going to stay in the middle of that circle.

Head movement is OK until stride foot landing, and then the head must stay between that circle.

 

Getting Shorter, Staying Shorter

Let's talk about getting shorter and staying shorter. A lot of coaches out there will teach their hitters to stay tall or to get tall. The problem is, is we don't see that in elite hitters. We see them getting shorter, staying shorter.

You take the top 50 hitters in the big leagues, the top 100, they're all going to get shorter and stay shorter. They're going to create space between their feet. This helps them to control their verticals or their launch angles or attack angles, however you want to think about it. They're just numbers, they're just metrics, that we can measure and compare hitters.

But you can see on the left, you can see in this Matt Chapman swing analysis, him drop below that second line and he's going to stay below that second line.

Getting shorter and then staying shorter over here on the right, you can see the same thing, different swing on a different day. But it's still the same swing, get shorter and staying shorter.

And the third swing here on the right. You're going to see him start tall. He will get shorter and then he will stay shorter.

And you saw the difference in those pitches – the first two I showed. Now, these aren't as synched up as that. But when we first showed, the first two pitches were more away. The last pitch was more down and in.

Barrel Path – Being On-Time versus Being Out-In-Front

OK. In this Matt Chapman swing analysis let's talk about barrel path, on time vs. being out in front.

Now, typically, if a hitter is on time, we use the different catcher's gloves. You can see over here is a better example. You can see where the real catcher's glove is over here. So, we say, imagine you got the real catcher's glove. You have to imagine a catcher's glove off the back foot, still where the catchers at, but in line at the back foot.

And then we get a catcher's glove that's in line with the hitter’s belly button. Now an on-time hitter…

Outer third part of the plate wants to knock or is what we see…we want to knock this real catcher's glove off and hit the ball deeper than the stride foot.

If the ball's middle third, we want to knock off the back-foot catcher's glove, if there is a catcher's glove in line with the hitter's back foot. In line with the straight foot as the impact point.

And if the ball is inner third, we want to knock off the belly button catcher's glove – to hit the ball more out in front of the front foot. When the barrel enters the zone matters. And the best do this. They aren't perfect. They tend to stay between. They usually never will go across.

For instance, if the ball is inner third part of the plate, they're not going to knock this deep catcher's glove off or do a deep barrel dump, and still be able to hit this pitch out in front of their front foot as an inside pitch.

The same is true in reverse. You're not going to see them knock the bellybutton catcher's glove off and hit a ball deeper because a barrel is not in the zone very long. So, can either be barrel in the zone too long, which is a fact, or not long enough.

We generally see them stay between the two. If the ball is middle third of the plate right down central…. sometimes we see them knock the real catcher's glove off, but they end up hitting it more inside the sweet spot and still can hit it pretty well. I've seen home runs it that way.

Or in reverse…it could be, to where maybe they are a little short. Maybe it's middle of the plate and they're a little shorter here because they're trying to catch up. They're thinking maybe fastball and they end up being a little bit more on front.

So that being said, that is on time. That is optimized. Now, this view over here is a little bit angled than this one. This one's straighter on, but he's out in front of all these, for the most part, you can tell just from the swing itself. You can see where he makes contact…

This first one was away, was outer third was the probably the farthest away. And he's making contact quite a bit out in front. Again, this camera angle's a little bit skewed, but you can see just by his body how he's a little bit more out in front of this.

Look at his barrel path. Look where the catcher's glove is. Again, if we were more side angle, chest view, this catcher's glove might be more in line at the back foot. I don't think the catch will be dumb enough to be that close. I think it's just the angle is causing that to look that way.

But you can see Alex Rodriguez, Pujols, Mike Trout, all of them would be super proud with this “swinging down” type of demonstration. This is actually happening in a game. You can see that the barrel staying above the hands a lot longer … till about right here, it levels off or slightly dips and then you get here because he's catching this ball a little bit out in front. And he's cutting the corner with his barrel path.

He's not starting it back here, and then getting it to here to have a really long barrel path, like some coaches teach, he's actually cutting the corner in order to get to this ball more effectively. This is OK.

Over here, this was the last swing if you can remember, and this was the one that was down and in. You're going to see a similar path again … down, middle down, middle away. You want to have a deeper barrel path. But he's a little bit out in front. He's going to cut the corner. You can see the barrel appear blurred.

About here, you still see the white of his batting gloves and you can see everything kind of blurring up this way. Barrel above his hands here and then he's letting it go. A little bit more out in front, but both of these swings are almost more of hitting the belly button catcher's glove like we just talked about, even though, this one over here was away.

This one is down, which is the middle away versus middle down. We're going to take similar barrel paths, but we're going to be deeper. When they're out in front, you'll see them cut the corner.

This swing was a little bit more over the middle of the plate, but still middle away. You can see where the catcher's gloves at. It's well behind him. You're going to see this is a little longer swing. He's going to cast it back, almost hitting the back-foot catcher's glove. A little bit more optimized on this swing, hitting it a little bit deeper, as you can see. You can see the blur of the ball and the blur the bat kind of meeting at one.

He's hit this one about where he should be hitting it. Optimizing. Again, he probably could have been a little bit deeper and maybe he hit this one, I think, to straightaway center instead of right center field.

He could have been a little bit more optimized by going back here, but this is imperfect, timing is imperfect. And as long as our hitters are between two close catchers’ gloves there was the real one in the back foot or the back foot in the front, the belly button one, as long as they're between there somewhere.

We we say there's three different barrel paths optimizing three different parts of the plate, but we cut it up into two. We say middle in and middle away … middle up, middle down. And then we just allow our hitters to … if it's middle down, middle away, then we want to be between these two catcher's gloves back here.

If it's middle in or middle up, then we want to be between the back foot and belly button catcher's gloves.

Remember, in this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post, we went over a few things…

  • We looked at Matt Chapman in FanGraphs,
  • Talked about shifting foot pressure,
  • Forward momentum and whether head movement is OK,
  • Getting shorter and staying shorter,
  • And then we finished with Barrel Path – being on time versus out in front.

I hope you like this Matt Chapman swing analysis video post. Make sure that you're swinging smarter by moving better, like our YouTube channel, like this video, share on Facebook, Twitter.

And before I let you go, I got something for you…

Line Drive Hacking With Josh Bell Swing Breakdown

 

Josh Bell Swing Breakdown

Josh Bell Swing Breakdown photo courtesy: MLB.com

In this Josh Bell swing breakdown, we cover:

  • Size,
  • Interesting metrics
  • DeRo analysis
  • 2018 RCF Homer: 5/31 83-mph breaking ball/SL, down/away VERSUS 2019 LCF Homer: 7/3 96-mph FB, mid/up
  • Some interesting things in swing analysis: Float, Fall, Barrel Path – CB down/away v. FB mid/up (and late), how well he matches plane of pitch (tube)

CLICK HERE to view the size and metrics data on FanGraphs.

Here's the Josh Bell swing breakdown Mark DeRosa video referenced above… (watch at about the 2:38 minute spot)

And before I let you go…

Analysis of A-Rod Hitting Analysis: Perry Husband & Joey Myers

Analysis of Alex Rodriguez Hitting Analysis: Real Versus Feel, How To Be An Effective Hitter, & Sabermetrics v. Experience…

Before you watch the above video interview with Perry Husband, please watch the following 7-min video of Alex Rodriguez sticking-it-to-the-hitting-man lol (I promise you, it's rather entertaining)

Wow!  The Social hitting community had a blast with this video.  Coaches talking how:

  • Cool his blue pool (which turned purple periodically throughout the video), and green lush backyard were…
    Analysis of A-Rod Hitting Analysis: Perry Husband & Joey Myers

    Alex Rodriguez YouTube channel titled, “HOW TO HIT HOME RUNS | TIPS FOR THE BEST APPROACH AT THE PLATE”

  • He added some sweet after effects into his video…
  • He may have had a couple bottles of wine (not glasses) pre-shoot, probably at the cautioning of his gal-pal J-Lo…
  • And the elephant in the room, how he seemed disconnected describing the elite swing…

There was A LOT to unpack in A-Rod's video…here's what he covered in only 7-mins:

  1. Real v. Feel – How to get the ball up…Swing down to get the ball up…swing down for “line to line”
  2. How to be effective as a hitter (Launch Angles, Line to Line) – forget “Launch Angle”, “Line to line” (beat the shift)…Legs underneath you with leverage, knee down to the ground…Think with “Ferris Wheel” launch angle…Ferris Wheel & “blind spot”…can't catch up to fastball up?
  3. Sabermetrics v. Experience – Top 4 of last 5 winning teams, #1 in contact, least in K's…Sabermetrics v. Experience…”an out is an out”, “K's are overrated”…”Made to measure” approach, contact is king.

So now back to the video analysis Perry Husband and I did (tippy-top video) of A-Rod's video analysis.  Here are some bullet points of what we cover:

  • Does hitting 100-mph ball exit speed mean you're maxing out?  How do you know what your max is?
  • How applying tested human movement principles validated by REAL Science results in almost instant changes to key metrics,
  • Why hasn't analytics given more value to Perry's Effective Velocity?
  • Are there instances that “swinging down” is okay to teach hitters?
  • Why fastballs down, hit on the ground, reveal some of the highest ball exit speeds & why curveballs are some of the farthest hit balls…

As always, the following are quick reference points you can use to jump around in the supplemental analysis:

  • At about the 0:00 minute mark, talking about Alex Rodriguez explaining feel and “swinging down”, “squishing bugs”, and knee going to the ground, A-Rod said only way to lift is to “go down”
  • At about the 5-min, 30-sec mark, three major issues A-Rod brings up in the video: 1 ) Real v. Feel, 2) How to be effective as a hitter, & 3) Sabermetrics v. Experience, coaches go to one side or the other, A-Rod is right and wrong at the same time, lets get player (ahem, A-Rod) on tee and measure ball exit speed and launch angle – test it!  Let's quantify and prove it or disprove it, early barrel dump works if pitchers aren't elevating fastballs, very little on internet is testable, guys not liking ball exit speed and heavy ball tee swings for evaluation – Why not wanting a baseline?  Just because you're hitting 100-mph exit velocity, is that your maximum?  How do you know without a baseline?
  • At about 14-min 30-sec mark, 3-dimensional hitting – verticals, horizontals, and timing or pitch velocity, where does power come from (according to A-Rod)? what do certain mechanics contribute to verticals, horizontals, power, or timing? Testing a hitter off the tee with regular ball, then heavy ball, then test it LIVE with ball, can see where hitter is deficient, out of 7-8 new kids (current hitters Perry is working with) have increased avg. 7 to 8-mph ball exit speed almost instantaneously, cleaning up mechanics aren't like getting stronger and more coordinated, which takes more time,
  • At about 22-min 30 secs mark, Launch Angles are numbers without brains and coaches treat it like a character in a movie! Has Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton ever hit a ball at their max in a game?  “Ferris wheel” swing and the “blind spot”, what happens when the low fastball disappears, from TM's perspective what is the “Ferris wheel” swing or is he using the WORST metaphor ever?! “Merry-Go-Round” versus “Ferris Wheel” swing, having a little bit of both depending on pitch height, depth, and timing, 150 locations within the strike zone – can you take same swing to each of those?
  • At about 30-min mark, Perry talks about his swing was in low-80's in Ball Exit Speed when 100% purely rotational swing, but in the high 80's low-90's when releasing backside, there are consequences to mechanics you choose, are you afraid to test it? Perry is starting a club doing a bunch of different tests and demos on the mechanical side and effective velocity (show hitters what they're missing), 18 of 19 Reds losses came on an EV inefficient pitch,
  • At about 35-min, 30-sec mark, what's your hitting operating system? Best hitters in the world miss 80% of the time and hit it on the screws 20% of the time, is your hitting OS to reduce strikeouts above everything else? What are you giving up because of your primary hitting OS?  Looking away and adjusting in works IF pitchers keep throwing fastballs outside and/or down, and leaving off speed stuff up, what happens when Trout doesn't see one fastball down?  Or one off speed or breaking pitch up?  Why hasn't analytics given more value to Effective Velocity?  Because they don't acknowledge measurement of timing,
  • At about 43-min mark, how can a pitcher be effective with Trout, he chooses to adjust to pitches not sit on them, he gives up a longer front arm on pitches up and in to get extended on down and away, how do you move away from the “adjustable” swing, 2015 Trout hit 6 bombs in the up/in box – made adjustment to pitchers changing, Trout almost has a recession-proof swing,
  • At about 50-min mark, if did study May of 2019 – fastball use top of strike zone would be up, couldn't do 100% ferris wheel or 100% rotational, A-Rod is right and wrong at the same time, “swinging down” is okay for uppercut hitters, the brain is one step behind the brain, however in REAL swinging down on the ball DOES NOT make it go up consistently – center to center contact does (or slightly below center), gotta get hitters better at verticals, horizontals, and timing, can't be 100% metrics OR 100% experience, “econ” hitting coaches? Linking Sabermetrics to the Scientific Process – asking question, form hypothesis, research subject, gather and compare data, then come to conclusion,
  • At about 57-min mark, Perry discusses how overrated backspin is and the importance A-Rod gave to it, why fastballs at bottom of zone have high exit velocities on the ground – from hitter's perspective fastballs have backspin, struck grounders don't change direction of pitcher's spin…same with curveballs, Dr. Robert Adair in The Physics of Baseball said CB's are hit the furthest – think about it, from hitter's perspective CB's have topspin, and when a hitter puts “backspin” on it, this doesn't change direction of pitcher's CB spin, so a pitcher should reverse that, locate fastballs up and curveballs down,
  • At the 1-hour, 2-min mark, Perry's starting paid membership club at 65% OFF* (for limited time only) to get people started, daily Monday through Friday, demos, study of hitter or pitcher, at bat that stood out from EV standpoint, 15-20 min video that shows in personal locker, do for baseball and softball,
  • At HittingPerformanceLab.com FREE book just pay $8.95 S/H, TheStartingLineupStore.com use coupon code: GET10OFF at checkout
  • At about 1-hour, 6-min mark, I talk specifically how to lock the front arm out – direction-wise – to get ‘showing numbers' and ‘hiding hands' as well, killing three birds with one stone

*The regular price on that will be $299 for the year, but the first 100 will get 2/3 off or $99 for the year.  They get their own personal online locker where the videos will be delivered Mon through Friday.  15-20 minute videos that will feature pitching strategy on sequencing, pitch design, hitter profiles, pitcher profiles and breakdowns, at bat of the day with data and Ev breakdown.  In other words, the truth about what’s really going on within the game, timing breakdown. 

How Barrel Enters Zone At “Right” Time & Optimizing Impact Points Rock-On-A-String Demonstration

 

In this video, we'll chat about the difference between two opposing forces described in Physics as Centripetal (center “seeking”) versus Centrifugal (center “fleeing”), and how they apply to the swing.Centripetal v. Centrifugal Forces Rock-on-a-String Demonstration

I borrowed this ‘rock-on-a-string' concept from Jim Lefebvre's book The Making of a Hitter.  I understood it as a hungry 11yo hitter looking for an edge, and I think it's still applicable now to help hitters understand their intention with barrel path.

Yes obviously, barrel path is in an arc, circle, oval, elipse, etc whatever helps get the point across.  However, to get an optimal impact point, hitters must think in terms of center seeking versus center fleeing forces.

It's easy to understand optimal impact points and how they relate to Centrifugal Forces (center fleeing) when looking at what the left and right “flappers” must do to hit a pinball effectively…

Superman Pinball Machine

Superman Pinball Machine photo courtesy: www.supermanhomepage.com

…think of the flappers as hitter swinging a bat.  There are optimal depths of impact – from MORE out-in-front (inner 1/3 of the plate), to out-in-front (middle 1/3), and to slightly DEEPER than out-in-front (outer 1/3).  This demonstrates the Centrifugal Forces (center fleeing) part of the barrel arc.

Centripetal Forces (center seeking) of WHEN the barrel enters hitting zone depends on pitch depth – how long the barrel stays near the rear shoulder.  And here's the critical mass, the barrels of elite hitters DO NOT enter the zone at the same time, regardless of pitch depth.  CLICK HERE for a post clearing this up.

How Your Central Hitting “Operating System” May Be Causing You To Lose Out On Scoring More Runs

How To Maximize A Hitter's Contribution To Run Scoring Process  

Photo courtesy: MopUpDuty.com

Recently, I had a conversation with a coach on Facebook who thought the following quote from Josh Donaldson was “horrible advice”:

“If you're 10-years-old and your coach tells you to get on top of the ball…tell him NO.”

I'm not getting into the positive or negative of Donaldson's statement, but the coach's responses that followed his “horrible advice” comment got me thinking.  Come to find out, the loud and clear message was this coach despises when hitters strikeout. Often referring to this offensive outcome as “disgusting”.  What was interesting was this one principle was central to how and what he teaches his hitters.

So I wanted to do a hitting “operating system” thought experiment.  In reading what follows, please keep in mind what the main objective to offense is, according to FanGraphs.com

“In baseball [or softball], we care about run scoring (and prevention) and so when looking at offensive statistics, we want to find statistics that tell you something about how much a player contributes to the run scoring process…again, we care about a player’s contribution to run scoring and if you treat everything equally you’re not getting a very accurate measure of those contributions.” 

In this thought experiment, we'll discuss…as a hitting instructor, what would happen if:

  • The Time To Impact Metric was Central to the “Operating System”?
  • Minimizing a Hitter's Strikeouts were Central to the “Operating System”?
  • Maximizing Batting Average were Central to the “Operating System”? And,
  • Maximizing OPS were Central to the “Operating System”?

Now, that being said…as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

The Time To Impact Metric was Central to the “Operating System”? 

If you're new to this term, here's the definition of Time To Impact according to Zepp:

“TIME TO IMPACT is the amount of time (in seconds) from the start of the downswing until impact of the bat with the ball. The closer to ZERO your swing is, the quicker your bat is to the ball. The faster the time to impact, the longer the hitter can wait to start the swing. Time to Impact also measures how short a player’s swing is. Time to Impact measures their coordination of both their hand and the bat barrel to maximize swing efficiency to the ball.”

CLICK HERE for amateur, High School, and Pro ranges for both baseball and softball.  What would be the top 2-3 priority hitting concepts guided by this principle?

  1. Point-A to B barrel path (shortest distance between two points). Default hitting strategy would be “Knob to the ball”.  “Swing down”. “Barrel above the hands”.
  2. Most likely using more linear elements in the swing for both upper and lower half (i.e. ‘showing numbers' will be a no-no).  Maybe similar to a Charlie Lau style of hitting.
  3. Minimalist view of the swing…wide feet, no stride, minimal hand and head movement, etc.  May not believe a hitter can train timing, so the view is that it's all about bettering the hitter's reaction time.

Look, there's a healthy range for Time To Impact, not taking too long, and not being so quick the barrel is not in the impact zone long enough.  You can see that range in the previous Zepp link.  Remember, we want to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player's contribution to the run scoring process 

Moving on,

As a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

Minimizing a Hitter's Strikeouts were Central to the “Operating System”? 

What if you despised hitters striking out so much, you often referred to this outcome as “disgusting”, like our coaching friend above.  What would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • Protecting hitters from swing and misses at all cost.  Very defensive just make contact swings, especially with 2-strikes.  May subscribe to barrel on plane of pitch early and stay on plane longer.  Less margin for error.
  • Believes in hitting ball hard and on a line.  However, low liners and ground-balls are preferred, especially with 2-strikes.  Don't care as much about extra base hits, doubles maybe, but not homers.  They aren't worth the risk.  Swings taught at the advent of astro turf fit this type of hitting perfectly.  Hard and on the ground.
  • Mechanics may look like: wide no-stride feet, bug squishing, minimal head movement from start of swing to finish, choking up (especially with two strikes).  Very defensive type of swing.  On board with boosting Ball Exit Speeds, but will not agree with optimizing Launch Angles.  Besides hitter strikeouts, this coach absolutely hates getting the ball in the air (too much of an out risk for them), unless it's a low level line drive.  High batting average and low strikeouts are very important to this coach.

Listen, if this is you, I'd highly advise checking out this VERY popular post titled, “The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground Balls”.  I'm not going into every argument here, but the math and geometry don't lie in demonstrating ground-balls are gross.  The main reasons are:

  1. Ask any pitcher, and most (if not all) will tell you they're taught to keep the ball down in the zone, to get the ground-ball.  So, if the default strategy – or safety net to the line-drive – is to hit ground-balls, then you're teaching hitters to do what pitchers want them to do.
  2. Because of reason #1, there are 5 fielders on the infield (yes, the pitcher is considered a fielder) with less space to cover.  There are only 3 outfielders with A LOT of space to cover.  And lastly,
  3. Most double plays are turned on the infield (probably THE WORST hitting outcome in the sport), and if you're pinning hopes and dreams on an infielder making an error or ball taking a weird bounce, then you're focusing on things you can't control.  High level coaches and players don't think that way.  WHY? Because it's silly.

Again, we want to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player's contribution to the run scoring process.  A defensive swing doesn't do this. 

Next, as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…

 

Maximizing Batting Average were Central to the “Operating System”?

In Golf, precision is key.  The least strokes possible.  Being able to control the club head has a lot of value because one small deviation at impact is exponentially compounded hundreds of yards from the tee box.  The last hitter to hit .400 was Ted Williams in 1941.  Tony Gwynn came close in the strike shortened year of 1994, hitting .394, and hitting around .370 in three separate full seasons.  And Gwynn had a mere fraction of the power Williams did.

Before I get to what a hitting coach would focus on here, I wanted to address the elephant in the room.  In the day and age of Sabermetrics, Batting Average isn't a useful statistic in deciding a player's value.  In a FanGraphs post titled, “Stats to Avoid: Batting Average”, they put forth two reasons to avoid looking at BA as a useful metric:

  1. “Batting average ignores a segment of offensive actions just because they aren’t “hits,” and 100 years ago, someone decided a hit and a walk were fundamentally different.”  And,
  2. “The second major flaw is that batting average treats every hit equally even though certain hits are more valuable than others. Batting average treats a single and a double like the same thing, even though a hitter who only hit doubles would help his team score a lot more runs than a hitter who only hit singles.” 

That being said, maybe a better stat would be Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). Not the best, but better than BA.  FanGraphs.com defines BABIP as:

“Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit. A ball is “in play” when the plate appearance ends in something other than a strikeout, walk, hit batter, catcher’s interference, sacrifice bunt, or home run.”

Okay, so what would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • Getting on the plane of the pitch early with the barrel, and maximizing that time.
  • Place a high emphasis on barrel control, both horizontally (across the field) and vertically (optimizing Launch Angles).  The best hitters in the world can put the ball where they want, when they want, during batting practice.
  • This Joey Votto interview post describes this approach, it's titled, “Joey Votto: Why Coaches SHOULD NOT Be Obsessed With Launch Angles”

I LOVE this approach, and I feel coaches have done a poor job of training their hitters in it in the past (including me).  Teaching hitters to hit the ball where they want, when they want.  Why can't we have hitters in High School batting .600 to .800?  Or Little Leaguers hitting .880?  I know it can be done because I did it when I was 12yo, in addition to hitting 30+ homers.  Using Batting Average (BA), or better yet Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), is a great start to encourage how to maximize a player's contribution to the run scoring process.

The challenge I have with it though, neither of the BA or BABIP metrics take walks and/or homers into account.  Remember “contribute to run scoring process”.  Which leads me to, as a hitting instructor, what would happen if…  

 

Maximizing OPS were Central to the “Operating System”?

Have you read the book MoneyBall by Michael Lewis, or watched the movie with Brad Pitt?  If you haven't…THEN WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU!!!!  lol, kidding.  OPS stands for On-Base Percentage PLUS Slugging Percentage.  There are better metrics, but this is a good one to start with if this is new to you.  FanGraphs.com defines it as:

“On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) is exactly what it sounds like: the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. Many sabermetricians don’t like OPS because it treats OBP as equal in value with SLG, while OBP is roughly twice as important as SLG in terms of its effect on run scoring (x1.8 to be exact). However, OPS has value as a metric because it is accepted and used more widely than other, more accurate statistics while also being a relatively accurate representations of offense.”

It's one of the best metrics to formulate hitting principles that encourage how to maximize a player's contribution to the run scoring process.  On-Base Percentage (OBP) measures how often a player gets on base.  And Slugging Percentage (Slug%) measures how many extra base hits a hitter hits.  ISO, or Isolated Slugging (aka “raw power”, takes singles out of the equation), is better than Slug%, but I don't want to complicate matters. Remember, the object of this game is to get runners on, and knock'em in.

 Okay, so what would be the top 2-3 priority concepts guided by this principle?

  • High frequency of hitting the ball hard.  Increase Ball Exit Speed, or how fast the ball comes off the bat.  However high Ball Exit Speeds with low Launch Angles are no good.  A few years ago Giancarlo Stanton hit a ball 123.8-mph…on the ground, one-hopper to the second baseman…double play. Ouch.
  • Optimize launch angle range between 15 to 25 degrees.  This is the ideal line drive range, and optimizes batted ball distance.  Some hate talking about Launch Angles, but every batted ball has a launch angle, even bunts.
  • Mechanics that optimize both of these are key.  How do we optimize Ball Exit Speeds?  (Hint: that's what Power Hitter 2.0: Engineering The Alpha does).  What mechanics optimize Launch Angles and hitting more line drives?  (Hint: that's what The Pitch-Plane Dominator does).  And importantly, my hitters don't sacrifice swing quality for power.  We get both!  My hitters lower their strikeouts, mis-hits, fly-balls, and gross ground-balls with these online video courses.

I think there's success on whatever part of the spectrum coaches find themselves on.  However, what if you lived on a planet that used forks and knives to eat soup?  What would happen if an alien came down and surprised them with a spoon?  Teaching hitting is the same.  There may be thousands of ways to teach hitters, but one way is most effective.  What is that way?  Applying human movement principles validated by REAL science, NOT “because-I-said-so ‘bro-science'”, to hitting a ball.   Have a higher standard for your hitters.

We as coaches have to reverse engineer the our swing strategy based on what the game values, which are runs!  The more runs your team can score (and prevent), the more WINS you get.  Don't lose sight of that coaches.

The Anatomy Of A Game Winning Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

To be honest with you…

I MISSED watching the Justin Turner walk off homerun LIVE!!

My excuse…?

Justin Turner Walk Off Homerun

Justin Turner walk off homerun photo courtesy: DodgerBlue.com

For those of you who can remember when your kids were 2-5 years old, you might recall the Disney channel being on almost constantly in your household.

When I turn on baseball, I get “Why are we watching this…?” from my 5yo.  And not after 30-mins of it being on…no…RIGHT AWAY!

He could be drawing, watching a kid's show on his Kindle, or playing with his NERF gun, and he knows when the channel is changed.  It's like he knows it's going to happen before it does.  That's another talk for another day.

But I digress…

I did get to see the replay of the game winning dinger via Twitter…

And, I DO know this, Justin Turner's walk off homerun was a thing of beauty.

As many of you know, I get a lot of Fixed Mindset knuckleheads claiming this system doesn't work at the higher level on the socials…in baseball and softball circles.

I blame the lenses they look at hitting through, which – let me tell you – are far less effective than picking up a bar fly with “beer goggles”.

Seriously though, here's some context to put the dinger in perspective, before getting to the info in the video above…

In this Justin Turn walk off homerun swing analysis, we'll go over…

 

What's he IS NOT Doing

I know, shocker for a select few out there.  I do define some of the above terms in the video, so make sure you watch that before commenting.  I know some of the cues can be used with the right framing of it.

So let's see…

 

What he IS Doing

  • Catapult Loading System principles: globally flexed spine, hiding hands, showing numbers, and
  • Pitch Plane Domination: knee action, back foot skip, early barrel on pitch plane, barrel stays on plane for long time, great spine angle at impact.

 

The Catapult Loading System Kindle eBook Giveaway

Just FYI, on this Friday, October 20th, I'm giving away free Kindle versions of my new book The Catapult Loading System: How To Teach 100-Pound Hitters To Consistently Drive The Ball 300-Feet…but here's the catch, this giveaway is for 5-days ONLY!  Last time I did this, over 1,300 coaches and parents downloaded the ebook.  And you don't have to have a Kindle to read the book, just download the Kindle app on your mobile device.  If you've already downloaded it, then I'd appreciate it if you could let a friend know.  Literally hundreds of coaches across the States are getting the same results – if not better – with their hitters (literally THOUSANDS of them!!) using this system, than I am with mine.  I'll make the announcement over email and Facebook, so please look out for that in a couple days…

Answered: Your Most Burning Questions About Getting A “Nike Swoosh” Barrel Path

 

Liam Case Study: Ropebat

There are 10-days between these two videos.

(If you have a legit “down swinger”, then this post will benefit them!)

Here's what I have for you…

I was recently working on smoothing out the barrel path of one of my 15 year old local hitters Liam…

He had what I've heard called a Verizon check mark barrel path BEFORE.  We worked on smoothing out the check mark into more of a curved Nike Swoosh barrel path.

What's amazing about Liam's transformation was that:

  • It only took ten days,
  • It took two total 30-minute sessions (beginning of session three was when the AFTER video was taken), and
  • Liam only had access to the Ropebat during our sessions. After session number-three, his mom went ahead and purchased one for home use.*

*Results aren't typical. Liam has a primary “feel” learning style, so the Ropebat worked well for him – and not to mention quickly with minimal use.

In the above video, we'll go over:

  • Question a High School coach had for me at 2017 ABCA conference about changing barrel path,
  • The Verizon check mark versus Nike Swoosh barrel path, and
  • The RopeBat cues I use in conjunction with the “feel” of the Ropebat.

CLICK HERE for the original full Ropebat post I did awhile back that shows the swing drill we used.

I use the Ropebat quite often for my hitters that need to fix the same issue Liam had.  It works.  You can order the RopeBat at my store TheStartingLineupStore.com by CLICKING HERE, or on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

 

Adrian Beltre VIDEO: Can Driving the Ball Be This Simple?

Adrian Beltre staying low on pitch-plane to a fault. Photo courtesy: OnlineAthens.com

This weekend I worked with a professional hitter Zack Esquerra, from the San Diego area, who was recently released after a couple years in the Diamondbacks organization on this very topic.

In this post,

We'll go over how easy it can be to drive the ball by simply changing the position of the back leg during the Final Turn.  We'll use Adrian Beltre's swing as a model and go over:

  • Adrian Beltre: pitch-plane mastery,
  • Role of back leg during the Final Turn, and
  • #1 drill to fixing a faulty back leg angle…

 

Adrian Beltre: Pitch-Plane Mastery

Adrian Beltre is a great example of a smaller hitter (5'11”, 220-pounds) having to do it right to compete with bigger ones.  Here's what he does so well:

  • Gets low,
  • Back leg angle (stays low),
  • Barrel is short to plane of the pitch, and
  • Barrel stays on pitch-plane…

Interesting to note, Adrian Beltre is below average with his ground-ball and strikeout percentages, and above average with his home-run to fly-ball ratio.  Most of the hitters I first see – Zack  included – have this reversed!  Here are a few of Adrian Beltre's key offensive Metrics:

Adrian Beltre Key Pitch Plane Metrics

Check out this slow motion clip of Adrian Beltre (different clip from the main video above)…look how he almost “snipes” the catcher's glove!

 

Role of Back Leg During Final Turn

Homer Kelly says this in his book The Golfing Machine:

“The slant is up in the direction of a straightened Knee. The slant of the Hips affects the degree of the Hip Turn.  Actually, the primary function of Knee Action – as with Waist Bend – is to maintain a motionless Head during the Stroke.”

Homer Kelly's statement has as much to do with hitting as it does with the golf swing!  During the Final Turn, Adrian Beltre uses his flexed back knee (and straightened front one) to slant his body up towards the downward traveling pitch.  This was an immediate challenge with Zack's swing, but once we quickly corrected it, we saw ball flight go from knee level line drives and in the ground, to head level line drives and driving the ball in the gap.

 

#1 Drill to Fixing a Faulty Back Leg Angle

CLICK HERE to view this post to learn more about the Art of Variance.  Here's how to do the Back Foot Variance Drill:

ONE FINAL NOTE: Adrian Beltre stays on the plane of the pitch so well during the Final Turn, I think he does it to a fault.  You've seen the pictures of him sometimes finishing with his back knee on the ground (pictured above)?  This can be caused by trying to stay low on the pitch-plane with too wide a base.  In other words, his back foot doesn't follow his front much after the stride, resulting in his feet being too far apart.  He would be more efficient if he “skipped” the back foot forward a little bit during the Final Turn and maintained more of a bend (90-100 degrees) in the back leg.