Posts

How Do You Strikeout 208 Times in 2015 Like Chris Davis? (Is Baseball Swing Path the Issue Here?)…

Baseball Swing Plane: Chris Davis

Notice the Chris Davis baseball swing plane is up, up, UP. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

(By the way, this post is VERY applicable to fastpitch softball as well)…

Is Chris Davis taking more of an extreme uppercut on the baseball swing plane?

Is he not cutting down on his swing with 2-strikes?

Is he using an excessive barrel tilt, before he launches into the turn, much like Josh Donaldson did between the 2013 and 2014 seasons?  CLICK HERE for this Athletics Nation post titled, “Josh Donaldson: Changes in Approach & Mechanics”.

Is he more susceptible to swinging at pitches out of the strike zone than say a Joey Votto?  CLICK HERE for this great “Joey Votto on Hitting” FanGraphs.com article about the changes he made to his baseball swing path in 2013.

Or, is his baseball swing plane so stubborn as to not adjust to higher Effective Velocities (EV), according to this fantastic analysis by Perry Husband:

 

Also, CLICK HERE for a Joey Votto video analysis I recently did.  He is the ultimate Pitch-Plane Dominator!

Here’s another perspective, from a guy I admire because he will readily admit he was wrong – on national television!!

Check out this short 3-min, 47-sec baseball swing path video of Harold Reynolds offering an explanation to the increase in MLB hitter strikeouts:

This video was done in July of 2012.  Basically, Harold Reynolds traces the high strikeout totals back to how coaches push their hitters to ‘let the ball get deep’.

Look, hitter’s are dealing with hitting a pitch that, beforehand, they DO NOT know what:

  • Pitch it is,
  • Speed it is, and
  • Location it is.

Sure, there are probabilities, but they’re almost NEVER 100% sure (stealing signs and/or a pitcher’s ‘tells’ aside).

Baseball Swing Path: Ted Williams The Science Of Hitting

Illustration from Ted Williams’s The Science Of Hitting book on matching the plane of the pitch. The bottom image can even serve as the extreme uppercut if flipped upwards.

Hitters have to build a large margin for error into their swings, if they want to succeed.

Then it got me thinking…

Sometimes we can learn more from what not to do, than what to do.

Coaches & instructors, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Please ‘Leave a REPLY’ in the comments section below to the following question…

What are the 2 biggest baseball swing path mistakes you think hitters make that lead to higher strikeouts?

I Need Your HELP!

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane

Ryan Braun early on pitch-plane. Photo courtesy: JTA.org

I often get caught up in my own ways of doing things that I sometimes lose sight of better hitting tips others are using for the same outcomes.  I’m not perfect.  And I’ll readily admit that I don’t know all the answers.  This my wife will surely echo 😉

But I do take pride in submitting and standing on the shoulders of giants.  This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson changed my life:

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Think of methods as “the drills.”  This post is for you hitting instructors or coaches who’re applying human movement principles, and successfully selecting your own methods.  I want to pick your brain, and hear your thoughts below.

But first, here’s the gist of the hitting tips assignment…

 

Hitting Tips from the Collective Few…

Ryan Braun Hitting Tips: staying long on the plane of the pitch

Ryan Braun staying long on the plane of the pitch. Photo courtesy: SportsWorldNews.com

I want to focus on efficiently increasing barrel time on the plane of the pitch using the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  By the way, it doesn’t matter if you come from baseball or softball.  So drawing from your teaching experience, what are your thoughts on the following (PLEASE leave your pearls of wisdom in the hitting tips comment section below):

  • Your go-to hitting drill for boosting barrel time on the pitch plane (pics or vids are welcome),
  • The best sticky coaching cue (or cues) that you use with young hitters, and/or
  • Any kind of underground (i.e. DIY) hitting aids that help with boosting barrel time on the pitch plane.

Keep in mind, inefficiencies such as arm barring, bat drag (racing back elbow), rolling over, and staying “attached” through the finish are issues you can address.   After a week, I’m going to have my readers vote on the best approach, and we’ll announce a winner.  Please share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…

Baseball Training Aids Review: The Speed Hitter

 

Baseball Training Aids Review: The Speed Hitter

Derek Shelton – Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach – spokesperson in Speed Hitter video

It’s featured advertising on MLBNetwork.  Derek Shelton, the Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach, is the spokesperson in the video ad (CLICK HERE to see video).

Go to the SpeedHitter website, and you’ll see endorsements from:

  • CC Sabathia (son uses),
  • Aaron Boone (son uses),
  • Kerry Wood (son uses), and
  • David Segui.

I’ve also seen the Speed Hitter being used – this past summer – in Little League All-Stars game on-deck circles.  Does it work?  In this baseball training aids video blog post, we’ll talk about:

  • Speed Hitter baseball training aids review,
  • Barrel path science, and
  • A better alternative

 

Speed Hitter Baseball Training Aids Review

Two main objectives of Speed Hitter baseball training aids (softball included) allegedly address a hitter’s contact point and barrel path.  A hitter is suppose to swing it and hear the “pop” of the ball where contact is made.  The Speed Hitter is priced between $59.99-79.99 + shipping.  Baseball training aids that are highly endorsed and visible often raise red flags for me.  THREE reasons WHY:

  • Endorsements – A majority of Pro-level athletes simply CANNOT teach what they do (or did)*,
  • Expertise – MLB hitting coaches carry A LOT of high “lose-your-job” risk instructing big money ballplayers, and
  • Marketing – Big money ads, in the proper places, can lend massive credibility to a defective concept that as a result, users tend to overlook.

*This actually has to do with what Neuro Linguistic Programming calls Unconscious Competence.  Players simply perform on ‘auto-pilot’.  On the other hand, Conscious Competence is being able to instruct someone else to exactly model what you’re doing.

Barrel Path Science

Baseball Swing Path

Image from Ted Williams’s The Science Of Hitting. We want the hitter’s barrel path to match the plane of the pitch, not chop down OR put an extreme uppercut on it.

Speed Hitter baseball training aids are flawed for FOUR-reasons:

  1. Point of contact and barrel path -for the most part – are two different things,
  2. Point of contact – ranges from slightly out front of the hitters front foot (inside pitch) to slightly behind it (outside pitch).  CLICK HERE to watch Harold Reynolds change his point of view on where contact actually is made on video,
  3. Barrel path – should be as long as possible starting in front of the catcher’s glove, extending about 6-12 inches passed contact (Power-V), and
  4. Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach and Speed Hitter spokesperson Derek Shelton doesn’t have an efficient swing himself (wraps the bat in the ad).

Addressing #2 above – The main objective of the Speed Hitter is to use the hands to be “short to the ball”.  The problem is an efficient swing isn’t focused on accelerating the barrel at the point of contact.  It’s before that, if we look at the inverse relationship between turning speed and moment of inertia in Conserving Angular Momentum.  CLICK HERE for the latest video I did on fixing bat drag and the science of turning faster.

Addressing #3 above – Being “short to the ball” cuts off a hitter’s ability to get on the plane of the pitch early.  Having a barrel on pitch plane early is key, just in case the hitter is late on a pitch.  CLICK HERE for a Chris “Crush” Davis post I did revealing “5 Problems with being ‘Short to the Ball'”.

 

A Better Alternative…The Swing Blaster

Baseball Training Aids: Swing Blaster Review

Keenan Wolf, one of my H.S. Frosh hitters, after one 45-minute session using a Swing Blaster demo this past summer. Swings are synced.

FIVE benefits of using Swing Blaster baseball training aids (good for softball as well) are:

  1. Early Barrel Acceleration – focuses on getting the barrel on pitch plane ASAP.  It’s not about being quick to the ball, it’s about being quick to pitch plane.
  2. Lengthens Hitter’s Pitch Plane – Gives hitter the ability to hit pitches harder – and keep them fair – that they may be late on otherwise.
  3. EIGHT levels of difficulty – there are eight little ‘washers’ that increase or decrease the level of difficulty to hear the audible “click”.
  4. Take soft toss – You can use the Swing Blaster to take short range soft toss.  A hitter CANNOT do this with Speed Hitter baseball training aids.  DO NOT hit LIVE batting practice with it unless the hitter has good bat control.
  5. MADE IN USA

How does it work?

The Swing Blaster gives a hitter audible feedback in the form of a “click” when max barrel speed has been reached.  It’s simple…

If the hitter hears the “click” AND contact at the same time, then they’re doing it WRONG.  If they hear a “click” FOLLOWED by contact, then they’re doing it RIGHT.  Whereas Speed Hitter baseball training aids have it backwards.  They want the hitter to hear the “pop” at contact.  To be effective, this isn’t when a hitter should be accelerating the barrel.  The barrel should already be accelerated at impact.  Impact is when a hitter’s arms are lengthening out or adjusting in to increase turning speed or inertial force.

The price?  Get yours today for only $34.99 + shipping on Amazon…I’m not sure if Swing Blaster will be raising the price soon, but for now you’ll be SAVING at least $25 than buying a Speed Hitter.  CLICK the following link to

buy-button2

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)