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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.

Hanley Ramirez Hitting a Curveball Do's & Don'ts

 

Hanley Ramirez: How-To Crush A Curveball

Hanley Ramirez Fight Position: photo courtesy: MLB.com

This post will clarify why the “Snapping Towel” concept is far superior than a hitter who “Sits Back.”  An efficient swing uses the Un-Weighting Principal, or Forward Momentum.  Basically, it's a hitter getting a “head start”, and making an aggressive move towards the pitcher.

CLICK HERE to watch the Troy Tulowitzki Experiment and see how un-weighting can boost bat speed.

Most coaches, instructors, and even decent Major League hitters HATE what I'm about to tell you.  They say, early head movement speeds up the pitch.  They say, you can't commit your body-weight to the front leg because you'll be out in front of off-speed and breaking stuff.

This video blog post will REVEAL, they're dead wrong:

  • WHY the Snapping Towel?
  • Importance of “getting shorter” in Fight Position, and
  • How-to train crushing a curveball.

 

WHY the Snapping Towel?

Hanley Ramirez at contact on a home-run

Hanley Ramirez low pitch contact photo courtesy: MLB.com

Would you rather have head movement before or after front foot landing?  The question isn't IF the head is going to move during the swing, it's when.  Thanks to proprioception.

Imagine how you snap a towel…here's the “Snapping Towel” effect applied to Hanley Ramirez's 2013 homer to left field off a Cliff Lee cutter going 85 mph:

  • Head moves forward and slightly down before landing,
  • Floats (slight pause) right before his Free-Fall forward,
  • Commits body-weight to front leg during Fight Position (landing), and then
  • Effectively snaps back into a spine angle up and over the catcher (notice head DOES NOT move here).

Can Hanley Ramirez's Fight Position get better?  Sure!  He's not using Gravitational Forces like he can by flexing his front knee a little more at landing.  I call this “getting shorter”.  Which brings us to the next point…

 

Importance of “Getting Shorter” in Fight Position (landing)

Josh Donaldson "Getting Shorter"

Josh Donaldson “getting shorter” photo courtesy: MLB.com

Because Hanley Ramirez DOES NOT “get shorter” into the Fight Position, he compensates by reaching for the Cliff Lee cutter.  Landing taller forfeits setting the pitch plane early.  And a compensating shoulder angle on a low pitch (more parallel to ground) limits force production.  It's like letting the air out of a balloon.

But most importantly, in respect to hitting the curveball…

Getting shorter into the Fight Position also creates a defense mechanism to breaking and off-speed stuff.  Jaime Cevallos calls it, in his book Positional Hitting, a “cushion” or “double cushion”.  JK Whited of Baseball Rebellion calls it “pushing the pause button”.

 

 

How-To Train Crushing a Curveball

Mike Trout tilted shoulders on low pitch homer

Mike Trout tilted shoulder angle on low pitch homer (he's the BEST at this) photo courtesy: MLB.com

Here are my top ways to train a hitter to crush the curveball, like Hanley Ramirez.  First of all, utilize the Break-It-Apart Drill to get hitters comfortable operating from a “paused” Fight Position.  Use the Rule of Variance in one or a mix of these THREE ways:

  1. Timing – move pitcher's L-screen up or back 10-20 feet from hitter after a round of five swings.  OR keep L-screen where it's at, and have two home-plates for hitter to move to between rounds,
  2. Plate Discipline – carve the plate up into inner or outer 2/3's (green light to swing), and other 1/3 of the plate is where the hitter takes (red light).  This is for a zero or one-strike approach.
  3. Mixed pitches – pitcher doesn't tell hitter what's coming.  No pitch is off limits.  Hitters, please wear helmets 😉
  4. Pitch RecognitionDr. Peter Fadde's interview post on this is HUGE, along with Perry Husband's interview post on Effective Velocity.

#1 focuses on making adjustments to a change in speed (or reaction time).  #2's objective is looking for a specific pitch in a specific location (not recommended strategy in games until High School Varsity).  #3 is the name of the game.