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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.

#1 Youth Baseball Swing Fix To Deflating Bat Speed

 

 

Awhile back I posted the following youth baseball post to my Hitting Performance Lab Facebook fan-page (CLICK HERE if you haven't “Liked” my fan-page yet…new content daily):

[fb_embed_post href=”https://www.facebook.com/HittingPerformanceLab/posts/565739680222497/” width=”400″/]

This video blog post will target one of the worst youth baseball swing offenders to deflating bat speed…bat drag.  In this article, we're going over:

  • What is Bat Drag?
  • The science of Bat Drag (to hitting an unknown moving pitch), and
  • One way to fix Bat Drag.

 

What is Baseball Youth Bat Drag?

#1 Youth Baseball Swing Fix To Deflating Bat Speed

Notice the difference in Charles's barrel angle.

This is when the front arm “bars out” before the Final Turn.  Also known as “Casting.”  And it's an oftentimes frustrating youth baseball hitting fix.

I received an email awhile back from James Brown (NOT the singer), that said:

…”I watched a video that perry husband had at the hitting hot stove at the abca in Dallas that showed analysis of the Homerun derby, and the furthest home runs by each individual competitor happened when their lead arm was extended early.  I think swing mass and leverage has a lot to power to the ball…  Think about having your hand slammed in a door.  Would you want a door with a short distance from hinge to knob, or a long distance?  Short would close faster, but do less damage.  Long will impart more force at a slower speed.”

James Brown's email response was after I produced this youth baseball Shin-Soo Choo: Can Front Arm KILL Bat Speed? video post.

Here's how I responded…

 

The Science of Bat Drag (to hitting an unknown moving pitch)

…”I see what you're saying and agree…to hit the ball the farthest, a straight front arm would be ideal. Look at golfers for instance. But here's the problem…a hitter in a game doesn't know with 100% certainty: pitch location, speed, and pitch type.

So a hitter needs to turn quicker for the first half of the Final Turn, to get the barrel on the plane of the pitch as soon as possible.  Then extend on the pitch plane, depending on pitch location and speed.”

In the home run derby, hitters know the pitch speed, type – and for the most part – location.

I agree with Perry Husband in that hitters should make it a goal to get to impact with a long front arm.

However, I don't agree in getting a hitter to bar that front arm out early on, pre-turn.

It's a simple Conservation of Angular Momentum issue.  CLICK HERE for a short 2-minute Circus Physics video from PBS on this movement Principle.

An ice skater speeds up by tucking her arms in towards her rotating middle.  She slows down by extending her arms away from her rotating middle.

What's going on here?

Rotating speed goes up when the rotation is tighter (bending the arms), but inertial mass decreases.  Inversely related, when the arms go out, her inertial mass increases, but her rotating speed decreases.  This is how Angular Momentum is conserved.

So, unless like Perry teaches, Pitch Recognition and Strategic hitting game plans against specific pitchers is supplemented, I don't see the logic in teaching hitters to early arm bar, pre-turn.

Why?

Because barring the front arm out early will slow rotation down (think arm extended ice skater), and on higher perceived velocities to the hitter, high or inside the strike-zone, why would we want our hitters to turn slower at the beginning of the turn?

The bottom line? Youth baseball (or softball) swing game mechanics are slightly different than in batting practice.  “Five-o-clock” hitters typically aren't very effective in games.  And let me tell you, all my pitching friends LOVE pitching to early arm bar hitters because they have a weakness to exploit.  Just like hitters that swing down on the ball and extreme upper cutters do.

One Way to Fix Bat Drag

Youth Baseball ALERT: Stop Arm Barring

See Cutch pulling his top hand, while bottom hand restrains that pull forward (look at muscles in left forearm and triceps). Photo courtesy: MLB.com

Typically, I have my youth baseball hitters practice the Catapult Loading System when we have an arm barring issue.  The finer points before a hitter lands in the Fight Position are:

  • Showing pitcher your numbers,
  • Hiding hands from pitcher, and
  • Slight downhill shoulder angle.

Another piece I've just added to the puzzle comes from Homer Kelly in his book The Golfing Machine.  The following quote may shed additional light on “educating the hands” to combat arm barring…

“Power Accumulator #1 (for right handed golfer) – is the bent right arm. Even though the right biceps is active, the backstroke is always made with the right arm striving to remain straight. But the straight left arm restrains this continuous extensor action of the right triceps with an effortless checkerin action. Consequently , during release, the right arm can straighten only as the left arm moves away from the right shoulder.”

You see, the problem with bat drag at the youth baseball level isn't the move itself, but how the compensation is triggered.  What's happening before the front arm bars out?  Is the hitter properly activating the springy fascia within the torso?

If you “Click here to ‘Get Instant Access'” button below, you can get a free video that explains:

  • Why the following advice: “Power is all in the hips”, “Load and explode the hips”, and “The hips lead the way” won’t produce the repeatable power you’re looking for…

  • Where power really comes from – the answers to how the body actually loads are validated by science…

  • The 3 Do’s & Don’ts that will help you execute this simple strategy without any hitches in swing quality…