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Jaime Cevallos Part-2 Interview: What are the 3 most Important Things to Consistent Power?

 

 

In case you missed any of the 3-part series…

Here's what we're going to discuss in Part-2 of the Jaime Cevallos interview:

  • What are the BIG-3 for consistent power?
  • How do you wind up the body to deliver more force?
  • What is the Main Thing that Separates the Great Hitters from Average?
  • What are the 3 most Important Things to Consistent Power?

The following is the transcription of the above video.  You can find Jaime Cevallos at the following places:

Enjoy!

 

What are the BIG-3 for Consistent Power?How To Wind Up The Body To Deliver More Force

Joey Myers  00:06

…the application of it basically. And in the beginning, there was the big three is what I call it. So that was showing the numbers, so hitters showing their numbers to the pitcher, there was the downhill shoulder angle. So that's the side bend side of it. And then there was the hiding of the hands.

 

Joey Myers  00:20

And I know you came to kind of a conclusion about that front arm shape being barred out or even slight bend, but pretty close to being barred out. So, the hands don't necessarily they used to teach walk away from the hands, right? So that to me is translated as the hands going back towards the catcher, but it's actually should go back at an angle back where we say hiding the hands from the pitcher. So, the hands should end up at landing somewhere above or behind the back heel.

 

Joey Myers  00:49

So if the pitcher is watching this hitter, and again, go look at Mike Trout, go look at JD Martinez. Go look at Mookie Betts. Look at all these guys and you'll see them number one, showing their numbers. Number two, not all of them have a downward shoulder angle but many of them do; Miggy Cabrera, Ted Williams if you want to go back in the day, a lot of hitters in the Stan Musial, they used to say that it looked like he was a little kid peeking around the corner. Right.

 

Joey Myers  01:16

And it was that the showing numbers part of it. And you see them all hiding their hands. So, from the minute they start to at landing, you see their hands disappear. So those are the big three and what's happening fascia wise is we're taking the front shoulder, we're taking the front shoulder and we're bringing it down and in towards the back hip.

 

Joey Myers  01:37

So that gives you that slight down angle and it gets you… we've evolved showing numbers to more creating neck pressure. Because every hitter is different, you and me being a little bit older, although we do a lot of movement work on our own body so we probably move better than people our age. But a lot of hitters are different in how far they can get their head here because one of the biggest…. one of the biggest things that people hated was showing the numbers was that, well, it pulls the hitters eyes off the ball.

 

Joey Myers  02:04

And yeah, if you do it too much, but the head's got to anchor down in a position, so if I go sideways, so the head's got an anchor in a tracking position, not necessarily square off to the pitcher, but intercept where the balls coming in.  All Dr. Peter Fadde's stuff and head anchors and then we just pull that shoulder underneath as far as you can. And that's going to create some tension in the neck.

 

Joey Myers  02:28

So it's like a wringing towel, like we're wringing a towel out. So, where your head is on top, the top hand and that your shoulders are the bottom hand, and we're just wringing as far as we can. We're taking that spine, that section of the spine, and we're just bringing it as hard as we can until landing and then we just let it go.

 

Joey Myers  02:44

So it's kind of like, I call it more of a spring than some people call it rubber bands like get the rubber bands really tight and then let them go like a rubber band system. Kind of but it's more it's more spring, springy. So those are the big three if you connect the dots between what fascia is what the spinal engine is, it's easy way to think about it is a wringing towel, like you're wringing the towel, it's loading that system up and then letting it go.

 

Joey Myers  03:10

And like I said, I ran quite a few swing experiments that proved that showing numbers versus not showing numbers, you add between four to six miles an hour bat speed, and I can't remember if I did a ball exit speed one, but bat speed and ball exit speed are very similar. They're like first or second cousins. So it's very translatable. The down shoulders added four miles an hour of speed. And the showing numbers I think was three miles an hour, or one to two wasn't quite as much. The big one was showing the numbers or creating that neck pressure.

 

Jaime Cevallos  03:41

So what this does is it winds up the body so that you can then deliver more force…

 

How do you Wind up the Body to Deliver more Force?

Joey Myers  03:48

Yes, yeah, it takes the slack out of the system. So slack being a little different than what how the human body because we talked about it's more compression tension forces that's taking slack out, but it's almost like If you think about a car that goes into a ravine and then you have a Jeep with a winch on the front that you can take the cable, hook it up to the bumper of the car that's been dropped in the ravine and to pull that car out, right, so you turn the winch on…

 

Joey Myers  04:15

And if you have slack in the cable that's connected to the bumper, and you turn that winch on right away, because there's slack in the cable, it's going to just pull the bumper off, it's not going to pull the car out of the ravine.

 

Joey Myers  04:25

So what you have to do first is after you hook it, hook the bumper, is you got to slowly take that slack out of the cable of the winch line and then turn it on and it'll pull the whole car out. So that's slack versus no slack. Some people out there have been on a what a toboggan on the lake, and you've been on a boat pulling you along, and you're holding on to the ski line or whatever you hold on to the ski bar, right and they're pulling you along.

 

Joey Myers  04:52

And we had a buddy who did this with us. And at the time, I was super strong. I was lifting a lot and he goes I'm going to do it as hard as I can to you, alright do it, bring it, bring it, man. So, he got it to where he's pulling me at first. So, there was no slack in the line; line was nice and tight. And then he got me to where I started coming up to the side of the boat. So, he kind of slowed it down a little bit. And then I started kind of floating up and started putting slack in the line and then he floored it! And boom, and that I held on and there was one time I think I ended let go, but that amount of force all at once. It was a slack in the line.

 

Joey Myers  05:30

Oh my gosh. So what happens is…

 

Jaime Cevallos  05:34

You're lucky you didn't hurt yourself.

 

Joey Myers  05:36

Right? Yeah, dude, we were like 25 years old, right? ever get hurt. But that's the thing. So when youth hitters, a lot of times what I see is these coaches say, keep your shoulders square. Don't show your numbers to the pitcher for all these different reasons we can go into some other time, but they want the shoulders square. They don't want you tilting them. They don't want you turning them in. They want them square and then they want the hips to do everything.

 

Joey Myers  06:04

And so what's happening is it's putting slack in the system. Because to take slack out we just talked about is like that wringing towel, we have to wring the towel and then let it go. And that's where you get a nice powerful move, consistently powerful move, and it's safe on the spine versus the opposite where the coach wants this shoulder square doesn't want any turn it in or down or anything like that. And they want the swing powered by the pelvis or the hips, they say explode the hips, load and explode the hips.

 

Joey Myers  06:34

And what happens there is you're taking the equipment of the lower back, the set of five vertebrae is in the lower lower back, who actually are not made to rotate. They're not made to, they're not built to rotate the bones. Okay. All they can do is flex and extend. The rotation that you see is about seven to 12 degrees and this is via Tom Myers, and a pretty prominent, I can't remember his name right now, physical therapists been around forever in the strength conditioning world [Charlie Weingroff, DPT, CSCS, a physical therapist, a trainer in New York City, and is pretty high up on the human performance food chain], seven to 12 degrees of rotation is all it's allowed because of the muscles surrounding those bones.

 

Joey Myers  07:13

So that's the rotation you see is that set that seven to 12 degrees rotation, you see, is because of the muscles surrounding the bones.  The thoracic spine, so shoulders and then the rest of it that attaches up to the top of the lumbar, the lower back is made to rotate is actually made to rotate 40 degrees, four-zero in both directions.

 

Joey Myers  07:34

So I should be able to do a good moving human body can move 40 degrees to the left and rotate 40 degrees to the right. So when you employ a part of the body that isn't allowed to rotate, to rotate and to not only rotate but explode, like absolutely explode. Now what happens is we start wearing holes in the lower back, we see back spasms. We see herniated discs. 

 

Joey Myers  07:35

We see all kinds of stuff in the swings we were referring to earlier about the barrel moves the body, not the body moves barrel. So those ones that are teaching barrel moving the body, what I see in those swings is I see these hitters on Twitter where their back is arching their arching and you can almost draw for righties, you can draw a reverse C shape. And for lefties, you can draw a C shape like from their head, down their back and out their leg because they're arching so much you can see this kind of C shape going on.

 

Joey Myers  08:32

And the problem with that is extension is okay, so if you arch your back in just a normal, a normal sagittal plane like a front to back plane, like you do a lunge or squat in a normal extension is fine. An arching of the back is fine. You see a gymnast when they swing the bar when they're swinging under the bar, right? You'll see them go into a globally flexed position where their spine kind of looks like this and then as they swing through, they go into a globally arched and global just means the whole body is arch. There's not one little point that's arched, say like in my head if I went and I just dropped my head back and I went into an extended position with my neck and not using my body as well, that's that would be a local extension.

 

Joey Myers  09:17

Those aren't usually good when they're coupled with their rotation. So, when the hitter is going into an arched position, that by itself isn't troublesome. But the minute you add a rotation in with that, now, when you arch you're pushing the vertebrae together in your back when you arch. Okay, now that again isn't a big deal, but the minute you start rotating, now you're grinding and that is a problem and that's what I see when you teach hitters the barrel moves the body and to snap the barrel back way back here.

 

Joey Myers  09:51

When I see those swings, I see those hitters arching their back and turning and it just makes me want to throw up because these coaches either, they're, it's like a cat, right? Cats are either really, really smart or they're really, really stupid. And to me, it looks like those coaches don't know any better. And they're getting their information from some guy who doesn't know any better, who knows better, but he's not teaching the right thing and it's just it's horrible to see these young hitters doing that.

 

Jaime Cevallos  10:25

So, what you would say is the main thing that separates the great hitters from the average or the just the good has to do with this sort of building tension not creating slack in the torso area and the upper legs basically, of the body.

 

What is the Main Thing that Separates the Great Hitters from Average?

Joey Myers  10:51

Right, exactly. So if you go back and Ted Williams you look at Stan Musial, you look at even Babe Ruth, and not all of them have them have every single principle like they could have and they could have done better. You could even look at Tony Gwynn, right? There was an article I do that every time I put it up on social media, I said something in the article or in the headline to the effect of, could Gwynn have had more power?

 

Joey Myers  11:16

And I just did an analysis and took a look at his swing and pointed out areas where he could have maximized or optimized power. A lot of people don't like that. You know, Tony, how could you be? You know, how many hits? Did you get the big leagues in? How could you take on Tony, when you don't know what you're talking about?

 

Joey Myers  11:31

I was like, no, it's dude. It's a thought experiment. I'm not going after the guy, right. He didn't want to hit for power. Although, when he had his talk with Ted Williams, his power numbers sure went up a little bit because Teddy told him, Hey, you might want to pull the ball and own your pull field a little bit more. And that year after he had that talk with him, I think he went from like 11 home-runs a season I think he hit maybe 20 or 18 or something like that.

 

Joey Myers  11:54

But this idea that Ted Williams is probably one of the best one of the best at it, you see the showing numbers, or his in his case “the number” nine, you see his down shoulder angle. You see him hiding the hands. You see this locked out front lead arm when he started his swing.  Like he's got it all, all of it.

 

Joey Myers  12:14

The only thing I don't agree with that it's not a bad thing per se. Extra motion, is the idea where he turned his hips in slightly. So, he kind of turned the hips in like he was turning towards the catcher. And I did this read a book you know that in high school and college and stuff like that because that's where I thought power was in the pelvis.

 

Joey Myers  12:37

But if you think about, when I turn my hips in and I'm creating my neck pressure showing my numbers and I'm pulling the shoulder in well if my hips going away from my back hip, which I'm supposed to be taking my front hip and bringing or my front shoulder and bringing it to my back hip, with my back hip is going away and my front shoulder is chasing what you're continually chasing. So, you never get to that point. Right?

 

Joey Myers  13:00

So if we just keep the pelvis in neutral, so belt buckle, pointing at home plate we don't inward turn or anything, and just let the shoulders do what they do. Creating neck pressure showing numbers going into that position there. Then now we're compressing where we need to and what happens is when you inward the pelvis and we're seeing data on this, ZenoLink.com – Chris Welch.

 

Joey Myers  13:26

So he does a lot of experimentation. He's kind of physical therapist guy, and very, very knowledgeable and he's got a lot of data. He's got force plates he's got all this different stuff. And so, I had one of my online hitters went to him, Chris's on the East Coast, went to him to go through all his testing evaluation stuff.

 

Joey Myers  13:45

And Chris was saying that this particular hitter's barrel speed was super maximized behind him, which is again, the same people that teach barrel swings the body right so the barrel speed was increased or was maximized behind him, but by the time he got to impact it was slowing down. So answer that, how are we teaching something that's actually slowing down your barrel by the time you get to impact…

 

Joey Myers  14:15

And there's a couple different factors in that we can go into if you want, but that was the whole thing he was in inwardly rotating his pelvis and he was a lefty. So he was taken in rotating his pelvis in towards the catcher and then get to landing and then he would he would rotate, he would rotate back, you know the pelvis back and explode into the ball, but that was causing him to have a premature maximizing of bat speed. It wasn't helping him it wasn't maximizing his ball exit speed.

 

Jaime Cevallos  14:46

Now, so the most important thing, you mentioned three things, say those, again…

 

What are the 3 most Important Things to Consistent Power?

Joey Myers  14:54

The spine, of the spine?

 

Jaime Cevallos  14:57

Well, just that I think there were just three things that were…

 

Joey Myers  14:59

You're talking about?

 

Joey Myers  15:02

Oh, oh, oh…the three things the big three, okay, so showing numbers or create neck pressure.  If I'm here, I'm here. So, my head anchors in a tracking position, shoulder comes pulling underneath as far as I can just like you're wringing a towel out right, my head and my shoulders. I'm bringing that towel out, creating pressure in the neck. So that's number one that's showing numbers neck pressure.

 

Joey Myers  15:27

Number two is downward shoulder angle. From this view, is more of a slight down shoulder. So, it's like you're doing a side bend. So, the shoulders the back shoulder goes up, the front shoulder goes down. And with that, you don't want it to be too much. The sweet spot there is like six to 10 degrees down so it's not a lot, but what helps a lot of times is controlling where that elbow goes.

 

Joey Myers  15:54

I back this up a little bit, give you guys a little bit more room. If I can use my elbow to pull the elbow or pull the, or bring the shoulders down, steer the shoulders down. That's a way to do it. But you can also focus on taking this front shoulder down and then towards that back hip that'll help to create this down shoulder. Right.

 

Joey Myers  16:14

And what's interesting in the swing, if we want our body to accelerate and decelerate properly, is we want the shoulders to start down. And then as we swing, then they're going to tilt. This front shoulder starts down, left shoulder, and then as I swing, it's going to go up. And then in my finish, think about the Ted Williams pictures and Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth and all these guys, how did they finish they end up finishing in this position.

 

Joey Myers  16:45

So what we should see is we should see… left shoulder starts down, pops up, and then it should end down. So down, up, and then down on the finish. You know those Ted Williams pictures where he's like, position right. It's this one, it's his left shoulder as a lefty starts, or he starts here. His left shoulder here starts up, and then it goes down. And then it finishes up. Right. So that's a proper accelerating decelerating into the spine. So that's the second thing that's the down shoulder.

 

Joey Myers  17:23

And then the last one is the hiding hands from the pitcher. One more time again. We got so if I start my swing, this way, you can see my hands and the minute I get to landing, I'm creating what you see this back elbow peeking out behind me. So that's they call it a SCAP row, or SCAP load, SCAP pinch wherever you want to call it. So that's the move there. Where now you can't see my hands.

 

Joey Myers  17:49

And now what I'm doing is this front shoulder for those those Kines geeks out there. The front shoulder is a Scap protraction so the scalp is coming in the scapula is coming this way coming across. And then my back SCAP is retracting. They're doing the opposite of each other protraction retraction, right?

 

Joey Myers  18:10

So if you watch any gymnastics, or Olympian doing a spin, ice skater, if they do a spin, that's what you're going to see. And a lot of people out there will say, Well, I like to scap pinch, but I don't want this front shoulder coming in. And like you're not, that's not how the human body works, dude, you're not getting 100% optimization out of the rotation.

 

Jaime Cevallos  18:35

So the showing numbers has been something that people didn't want to do?  I was not aware of that…

 

Joey Myers  18:41

It was and still, yeah, it's crazy.

 

Jaime Cevallos  18:45

Why did they say you didn't want to show numbers?

 

Joey Myers  18:47

Good question. The irony by the way, these same people that don't like it, swear by video, swear by video analysis. They say well we're going to look and see what the best hitters do and that's what we're going to do.  And you see them do it. You can again look at Miggy look at Ted Williams look at Trout look at just look at the top 10 power hitters right now and even in the in the day, and you see all of them do it.

 

Joey Myers  19:13

So I don't understand why they're all about video analysis, but they choose to see what they want to see. Right. So what they say is the problem they say with it is that it takes the hitters eyes off the ball, but I just talked about, we create neck pressure. The head is the important part. That's the piece that's the anchor. It's like a boat and I ask my hitters, what does an anchor do on a boat, it either stops the boat or it slows it down, right?

 

Joey Myers  19:37

So the head is the control piece. Wherever the head goes, the body follows. So the head takes a tracking position and anchors down and then it's the shoulder that comes in as far as it can while we're wringing the towel out. And that's what's going to get you to the show numbers.

 

Joey Myers  19:53

Now lefties if you watch lefties because the camera angle at Major League ballparks is slightly off center towards left field right… (To be continued in Part-3…)

I’ve Lied To You For 5-Years Now About The Best Hitters Baseball Bat Path…

Breaking down Khris Davis

Khris Davis is 5'10" with a ton of power. How does he generate it?Sean Casey shows how his back elbow and bat path help him get it done.

Posted by Diamond Demos on Tuesday, September 18, 2018

 

…And I'm sorry.  But I will say this, most are being misled on the best hitters baseball bat path.  The principle you'll discover shortly also apply to fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball.

In this best hitters baseball barrel path post, we'll look at:

  • How the best hitters are using the Catapult Loading System,
  • WHY current one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel path approaches are losing, and
  • Hitting different “catcher's glove” examples of inner, middle, and outer third of the plate pitches…

 

How the Best Hitters are Using the Catapult Loading System

…according to Diamond Demo video above: “Breaking down Khris Davis”.

We published last week's Khris Davis swing analysis post because of the Diamond Demo “Breaking down Khris Davis” video.  The overwhelming response I received from readers sharing this video with me truly validates the Catapult Loading System seen in the best hitters.  Don't think so?  Take a look at the following split screen snapshots from the above video (recognize ANY of the hitters??)

Best Hitters Baseball Swings: JD Martinez, Aaron Judge, & Jose Altuve

Observe stride landing positions of JD Martinez, Aaron Judge, & Jose Altuve – ‘showing numbers', ‘downhill shoulders', & ‘hiding hands'. Photo courtesy: Diamond Demo video “Breaking down Khris Davis”

And,

Check out stride landing positions of Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, & Mike Trout – ‘showing numbers', ‘downhill shoulders', & ‘hiding hands'. Photo courtesy: Diamond Demo video “Breaking down Khris Davis”

We won't spend a lot of time rehashing last week's post, BUT I do want to bring up an important point that was talked about in the above Diamond Demo segment.  And it has to do with best hitters baseball barrel path…

Starting at about the 2-min, 15-second video mark, and continuing to the end, they talk about this idea of Khris Davis getting his barrel in the zone early, and keeping barrel in the zone late.  And this is where I've lied to you for the last 5-years!  I used to teach my hitters this same one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel path.  But what I found was this IS NOT true of the best hitters baseball bat paths…

 

WHY Current One-Size-Fits-All SUPER Deep Barrel Path Approaches are Losing

Let me tell you a story of how I stumbled onto this principle…

In January of 2018, I was working with one of my hitters, who has been working with me since he was 7 years old.  He's 15 years old now, in the 8th grade, and consistently hits with a low to mid 80's Ball Exit Speed off the Backspin Tee, using a wood bat.

His mechanics are pretty clean compared to my other hitters.  At the time, I was teaching my hitters the same one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel acceleration path, as many of you are now.  One day, we were working on hunting pitch zones, inner third pitches specifically, and he responded,

“Coach, I don't feel like I can get to that inside pitch effectively.  Am I showing my numbers too much?”

This got me thinking, so I jumped on Twitter to look at the best hitters baseball bat paths.  Specifically, I was looking for hitters, like the ones on the split screen images above, crushing 94-mph+ on the inner third of the plate, and guess what I saw??

The ones who demonstrated the Catapult Loading System principles well (namely ‘showing numbers'), still did so at stride landing on inside heat! Did you catch that?!  ‘Showing numbers' was irrelevant to crushing the inside pitch.  CLICK HERE for a post I did debunking that.  So what were they doing different on the inner third?

It had to do with what we call hitting a different “catcher's glove”.  I won't go into the details of that here because I already did at the following post titled: “Accelerate Barrel Rearward Like Mike Trout”.  The best hitters baseball barrel path isn't about a one-size-fits-all approach to all pitches and timing.

Here's the DANGER for hitters using a one-size-fits-all SUPER deep barrel acceleration approach…

Signs that pitcher's are smartening up to countering this seemingly effective low in the zone barrel approach?  Pitchers are now using this, which Perry Husband calls Effective Velocity (EV), to exploit hitters with longer barrel paths.

In short, 2018 homers are down, in addition to having a few months in the season where overall offensive strikeouts outweigh hits in the Big Leagues.  This is troubling.  To give a clue, check out Perry's video explaining why Chris Davis (Orioles) is having issues with this one-size-fits-all barrel path…

 

If hitting coaches don't smarten up to this soon, then they'll be rendered obsolete, irrelevant to the hitting community, and ultimately out of a job.  That's not an exaggeration, and is where the puck is going, believe me.  Now, let's look at the behavior of different “catcher's glove” approaches on inner, middle, and outer third of the plate pitches…

Hitting Different “Catcher's Glove” Examples of Inner, Middle, & Outer Third of the Plate Pitches

Inner 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Belly Button” Catcher's Glove)

Mike Trout Homer #38 – 88.1-mph Front View

Chest View

Mitch Haniger Homer #26 – 95.9-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Trevor Story Homer #34 – 93-mph in Front View

Chest View

Middle 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Back Foot” Catcher's Glove)

Matt Carpenter Homers #36 – 84.9-mph Change-up Front View

Chest View

Javier Baez Homer #33 – 87.4-mph SL Front View

Chest View

Khris Davis Homer #42 – 93.9-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Outer 1/3 Pitch Barrel Path (“Real” Catcher's Glove)

Mookie Betts Homer #31 Front View

Chest View

Christian Yelich Homer #32 – 88.7-mph Slider Front View

Chest View

Michael Conforto Homer #27 – 94.4-mph FF Front View

Chest View

Now, how do we train this?  I'm going to give you two complimentary drills we use to sync the optimal “catcher's glove” with the proper direction of force (See – aren't you glad you read my post to the bitter end!?):

  1. “Shorten Swing” Like An Elite Hitter (Not What You Think), and
  2. How To Optimize Directional Force Using The “Pounding Nail” Drill.

Ground-ball Hitting Approaches May Be Causing You To Lose Out On Producing MASSIVE Runs

Joey Votto: Plane of the Pitch

Joey Votto is one of the best at keeping his barrel on the plane of the pitch for a long time. Photo courtesy: RantSports.com

Now, before getting your panties in a bunch, let me start off by saying, the ONLY time ground-balls are okay, is for situational hitting scenarios. Other than that, ground-balls should be banned.

My friend and retired Major Leaguer Homer Bush, in his book Hitting Low In The Zone: A New Baseball Paradigm, uses Sabermetrics to show how hitters can hit .300 with consistent power, IF they can do two things consistently well:

  1. Elevate the low pitch, and
  2. Hit to ALL fields.

CLICK HERE for an interview I did with him here.

If you're a Ground-ball Hitting Coach, then I address A LOT of your objections in this Ground-ball Rant post, which amassed over 5,400 LIKES on Facebook.

However, the biggest head scratcher for me is the fact that a large majority of pitching coaches around the nation teach their pitchers to keep the ball down in the zone.  WHY?  Because they want hitters striking the top half of the ball, which drives the ball into the ground.  Pitchers want hitters hitting ground-balls!  Then why are hitting coaches teaching hitters to hit the ball into the ground and/or swinging down on the ball?  By the way, the latter produces MORE “worm-burners”, NOT less.

I know, I know, these coaches point to terrible defenses at the lower levels or that there are no “bad hops” in the air, but where those arguments lose traction is:

  • What happens when you face a team with a better defense?  FACT: teams – at any level – that tend to end up in Championship games can play catch better than others.  And,
  • If you're a coach pinning your “hopes” and “dreams” on the other team making an error or booting a ground-ball, then you're teaching your players to control the uncontrollable.  No elite athlete or coach in their right mind – in any sport – focuses on uncontrollables.  This means you're teaching an inferior model.

In this post, I wanted to share the growing MOUNTAIN of evidence being produced by Sabermetric sites, such as Beyond The Box Score, that are churning out, with increased frequency, Major League case study after case study showing that ground-ball hitting approaches are non-conducive to scoring MASSIVE amounts of runs, and non-productive for hitters at ALL levels and genders.

Onward and “upward”…

What Addison Russell's swing adjustment means for 2016

Addison Russell made a change to his swing during the 2015 season, which could alter his offensive impact significantly in 2016.

By: Randy Holt

“The declining ground-ball rate will likely be a bit more significant in the long-term, as those changes continue to go into effect, given that Russell's changed stance means he isn't swinging down at the ball so much. So it's only natural, and perhaps beneficial, that that number comes down. His line-drive rate didn't change significantly, but the uptick in his fly-ball percentage was nice. Especially if you're of the belief that as Russell continues to grow and develop, his strength will increase, leading to a nice uptick from his 11.4% homer to fly-ball ratio.”

Swinging down DOES NOT get the ball consistently AND productively in the air, getting the barrel on an upward plane with the downward traveling pitch does.  Ted Williams said this in his book The Science of Hitting.

 

Scooter Gennett and ground balls

Scooter Gennett's offense has declined every year since he broke into Major League Baseball, are ground balls the reason?

By: 

It’s obvious that an increased amount of grounders is diminishing Gennett’s ability to tap in to his power, and is behind the drop in his offense over the last couple seasons. It’s easier said than done to put the ball in the air than on the ground, but without overwhelming speed it is tough for hitters to last by putting the ball on the ground. It is one of the main reasons we have seen his BABIP deflate from the .380 total he posted in his rookie season. To think that he could return to that total and sustain it is ridiculous, but the he also has gone from well above average to essentially average.”

I included this BTBS post in my book on Amazon titled, “The UGLY Truth About Hitting Ground-Balls”.  Piggy-backing on this, here's a more recent follow up about Gennett's dramatic turnaround…

 

Scooter Gennett: power hitter

Home runs are up all around the league, and Scooter Gennett has joined the power party.

By: 

“In the interest of keeping up with the fads, the first thing I checked was his launch angle difference between 2016 and 2017. He went from 11.7 degrees to 15.0 degrees, which is certainly a change worth noting. It is not, however, in the range of launch angle darlings Yonder Alonso and Ryan Schimpf, who jumpted to 22.1 degrees and 30.2 degrees respectively. Despite not reaching the astronomical levels we’ve seen from some players this season, Gennett appears to have settled in a reasonable range that yields line drives, doubles, and a fair share of home runs as well.

His move towards better contact based on the change in launch angle can be seen through a 5.8 percentage point decrease in ground balls in tandem with a 1.3 percentage point increased in line drives and 4.4 percentage point increase in fly balls. Even with a 21.6 percent HR/FB that’s bound to regress, the underlying improvement of putting balls in the air should allow his increased level of power to continue. That may manifest itself in more doubles than home runs, but that’s still a productive profile.

The Reds got Gennett for nothing. He was in the midst of a multi-year slump in which he provided nearly zero additional value to the Brewers. Then Gennett, like so many others this season, added some lift on the ball and power to his game. The addition of power has helped him become a well above average hitter that should be able to provide 2-3 fWAR by the end of the season. That’s a huge win for the Reds, who simply claimed Gennett off waivers.”

This is pretty damning evidence for those coaches promoting a primarily ground-ball offensive approach.  COACHES QUIT SABOTAGING YOUR HITTERS!!!

 

Has Hanley Ramirez lost his power forever?

Hanley Ramirez is having the worst offensive season of his career. Can he rediscover his power stroke, or are the underlying signs of decline too strong to counteract?

By: 

“Since it is usually advantageous to pull for power, it is no surprise that Hanley's decreasing pull rate has coincided with his rapidly falling ISO and home run totals. Over the past three seasons, Ramirez has seen a simultaneous increase in ground ball rate and decrease in pull rate. These factors, along with increasing age, are probably the main causes of his diminishing power.

So will the power come back? Probably a little bit. As his HR/FB ratio returns to normal levels, some of Hanley's fly balls will likely turn into home runs. And since his hard hit rate has remained consistent, it is reasonable to expect a higher ISO going forward. However, if Ramirez's launch angle remains as low as it has been thus far, a steady stream of ground balls can be expected, which will put major limitations on his power.

Please re-read that last sentence.  On second thought, memorize and burn it into your brain.

 

Bryce Harper is pounding the ball into the ground to no avail

He’s gotta figure out how to elevate more despite pitchers giving him few pitches to elevate.

By: Kevin Ruprecht, Jul 28, 2016

“The batted ball distribution clearly reflects the launch angle, though perhaps the trend up in ground-ball rate started earlier than 75 games into the season.

Harper is walking a ton and striking out less than last year, but his overall production has gone the way of his launch angles – down. His 116 wRC+ this year is a far cry from his 197 wRC+ last year. Pitchers are throwing more outside and lower than last year out of fear of his power, so Harper just isn’t getting many good pitches to hit. Harper will have to adjust to reverse this slump.”

There are beautiful radar charts illuminating the differences in his launch angles in this post (just click the article “title” link above to see them).

Evan Gattis fixed his ground ball problem

With a move back to catcher and a more patient approach Evan Gattis seems to have cured what ailed him early in 2016.

By: Chris Anders, Sep 26, 2016

“Early in the season it looked like Evan Gattis might have been finished as a productive hitter. A player who is limited to DH and doesn’t hit the ball in the air enough to maximize his power is simply not an appealing roster option for most teams. Thankfully for both Gattis and the Astros the early season struggles seem to be merely a blip on the radar. As it turns out, a move back behind the plate and an increase in launch angle was all that was needed to re-energize his career.”

Here's a more recent Beyond The Box Score piece on Gattis about the difference in the two halves of his 2016 season…

 

Evan Gattis’s power surge: Is it real?

The Astros DH/catcher smacked a lot of extra-base hits in the second half of the year. Is this the new normal, or did he run into a few?

By: Evan J. Davis, Jan 8, 2017

“Where the swing might come into play is his batted ball types. Grounders fell nearly 13 percentage points between halves (47.1 percent in the first, 34.4 percent in the second), while fly balls jumped accordingly. Statcast confirms this: Gattis’s average launch angle jumped from 10.8 degrees in the first half to 13.1 degrees in the second. The sizable decrease in his pop-ups (from 5.3 percent to 3.9 percent), in tandem with the softly-hit and ground ball percentage drops, also suggests that Statcast wasn’t missing too many of his batted balls.

Gattis was finding more optimal launch angles to hit the ball. He was getting more loft, and keeping the barrel through the zone.

There's a formula coaches, on how to consistently barrel the ball more often.  Sabermetrics have given hitting coaches the answers to the test!!!

 

Franklin Gutierrez is wasting his hard contact

It helps a player’s cause to hit the ball hard, but that alone won’t make him great. Just ask Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.

By: Ryan Romano, Sep 30, 2016

“In 2015, Gutierrez put 46 balls in play in the lower part of the strike zone, according to Baseball Savant. 25 of those, or 54.4 percent, went on the ground, which ranked him in the 42nd percentile. In 2016, his ground ball rate on low pitches has leapt to 74.2 percent, moving him up to the 98th percentile. When given a higher offering, Gutierrez will still put it in the air, but that can’t compensate for the spike in grounders down below.

If Gutierrez remains at this level of offense, he’ll be a solid player. Most teams will find a spot for a capable (in theory) defender who can hold his own at the plate. He won’t go back to being elite, however, unless he cuts down on the ground balls. Making hard contact is half the battle; the other part is making sure that contact goes where you want it to go.”

The next piece for those of you Ground-ball hitting coaches addressing the objection that hitting for higher Ball Exit Speeds and Launch Angles contribute to more strikeouts (HINT: causation DOES NOT necessarily equal correlation here)

 

Whit Merrifield is here to elevate and celebrate

The Royals’ breakout infielder is the latest to embrace the launch angle revolution and is making sure he gets a chance to put the ball in play.

By: Anthony Rescan, Aug 5, 2017

“Arguably the most impactful change is what happens when Merrifield makes contact. Currently, his average, observed launch angle is up from 16.89° to 20.51° and he’s seeing a spike in exit velocity from around 84 mph to north of 87 mph.

This has caused a massive shift in how his batted balls enter the field of play. Both line drives and ground balls have been siphoned off to fuel his fly ball spike.

In addition to that, Merrifield has been much more successful at turning those fly balls into long balls. The effect of this change is seen across the board with Merrifield — a near-80-point spike in ISO [Raw Power – Slug% w/out singles factored into the equation] certainly isn’t anything to scoff at.

Merrifield has also become more efficient at the plate. Though he’s experienced a slight dip in walk rate, he’s drastically cut his strikeouts. His previous mark of 21.7 percent has been struck all the way down to 13.1 percent. When looking at his plate discipline statistics from Pitch Info, we can spot the changes. His O-Swing rate has dropped two percentage points, but resulted in a 6.7 percentage point increase in O-Contact rate. He also is swinging at more pitches in the zone by a 3.8 percentage point margin, but his contact rate there dropped from 92.1 percent to 90.9 percent. Overall, his contact rate has jumped to 84.4 percent from 82.6 percent. So, he’s offering at less pitches out of the zone, but doing more with them and also swinging at better pitches.”

Look coaches, the longer the hitter can match the plane of the pitch with the barrel, the more opportunity to drive the ball.  Increasing power doesn't have to sacrifice swing quality.  Plate discipline and pitch recognition MUST also play a MAJOR role in the hitter's development.

Francisco Lindor is enjoying a big power surge

It’s almost as if hitting the ball in the air is better than hitting it on the ground!

By: Luis Torres, May 15, 2017

“What really jumps out at you is the change in his ground-ball and fly-ball rates. He went from hitting way more ground-balls than fly-balls, to being a fly-ball hitter. His fly-ball rate went from 28 percent to 45 percent. That is a huge change.

It used to be that coaches at all levels would encourage their hitters to swing down and keep the ball on the ground. In recent years, hitters are learning how ineffective that really is. Ground-balls will go for base hits more often than fly-balls will, but will go for extra bases less often. It is really hard to score by stringing together a bunch of singles.”

At this point in the post, if you still find yourself a Ground-ball hitting coach, you may be thinking, “So should I teach my hitters to hit fly-balls?!”  Check out this FanGraphs.com article…

 

Which is Better? A Ground Ball Pitcher or a Fly Ball Pitcher

“Let’s take a look at a little bit of data to get started. Here are the results on each type of ball in play from 2014:

Type AVG ISO wOBA
GB .239 .020 .220
LD .685 .190 .684
FB .207 .378 .335

You can see that line drives are bad news for pitchers any way you slice them. They lead to more hits and huge run values compared to the other types of balls in play. But there’s a trade off in the ground ball-fly ball department. Ground balls go for hits more often than fly balls but fly balls go for extra bases much more often when they do drop in for hits.

In other words, if you’re a fly ball pitcher, you can usually sustain a below average BABIP, but you might get tagged for a few extra doubles, triples, and homers as a result. Ground ball artists, on the other hand, don’t often allow homers and extra base hits, but they allow singles to squeak through more often.”

Let me clarify the above graph…ISO refers to Isolated Slugging% (aka Raw Power), which is like Slugging% but with singles factored OUT of the equation.  Weighted On-Base Average (or wOBA) measures a player's overall offensive contributions per plate appearance.

I think every hitting coach can agree on Line Drives being the ultimate hitting objective, but picking between the two “evils” of either a GB or FB is where hitting camps diverge.

And according to the graph above, even though Fly-balls lose 32-points in Batting Average compared to ground-balls, I'll take a boost of 358-points in Raw Power (ISO), and a jump of 115-points in a player's offensive contribution per plate appearance (wOBA) ANY DAY OF THE WEEK.

I want to end with this beast of an article by The Hardball Times, authored one of my favorite authors Dan Farnsworth…

 

Ground Balls: A Hitter’s Best Friend?

“Alan Nathan [retired Physicist] has a great research article posted on his website detailing the math behind hitting a home run based on experimental measured ball flight. In it, he summarizes the results pertinent to this common teaching axiom:

‘For a typical fastball, the batter should undercut the ball by 2.65 cm and swing upward at an angle 0.1594 rad.'

That value in radians converts to a 9.13° uppercut swing, representing the maximized swing path for energy transfer and backspin using a typical major league hitter’s bat speed.

I do not believe this is common practice or knowledge in major league baseball, which is unfortunate. I have heard a lot of second-hand horror stories about the philosophies of many organizations in the game. Especially at the big league level, there is little evidence that a true ground-ball swing will lead to success. Line drives are the key to hitting, regardless of hitter attributes. Speed appears to have less of an impact on a hitter than what popular belief says. While speed may help boost a player’s batting average on balls in play, fast hitters do not have an automatic incentive to hit the ball on the ground, based on these results. They can turn doubles into triples rather than just outs into singles.

The bottom line: leave swinging down to bad hitters at the amateur level, who have no chance at playing at the highest levels of the game. Otherwise, hit the damn ball in the air.”

There is A LOT of great stuff in this Farnsworth article, so I advise you read the whole thing.

And if you think teaching speedy hitters to hit the ball on the ground is a good thing, then let me share this fact from Rob Arthur from FiveThirtyEight:

Let me repeat,

The effect of speed starts to fade only when launch angles exceed 10-degrees, as exit velocity begins to take over as the biggest determinant of a batted ball's fate.”

My friend and retired Big Leaguer Aaron Miles once told me that even the Dee Gordon's of the hitting world have to learn how to drive the ball at the Big League level because the infielders' arms are well above average.

Ground-ball hitting coaches, are you starting to run out of excuses yet?

Let me leave you with some quotes from some “pretty good” hitters, talking about the importance of Launch Angles and Ball Exit Speeds

Now look,

If you still aren't convinced that higher Ball Exit Speeds and Launch Angles are the way to go, then I chalk it up to willful ignorance.  You don't know what you don't know, right?  Hopefully this post moved you to more of a conscious incompetence.  In other words, you now know what you don't know.

Don't worry, I understand, you may not be familiar with how to teach your hitters how to elevate the ball with authority.  The good news is, there are resources.  Get educated because your hitters are DEPENDING ON YOU.

There are quite a few individuals on Twitter teaching this approach (this is by no means an exhaustive list, if you know of others, then please post in the comments section):

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't share my online video course titled Pitch-Plane Domination.  Sorry, shameless plug 😛

Mark my words, this hitting approach will be the norm in the next few years.  Just remember that I told you so 😉

Also, if you're on the Twitters, then use the hashtags #GBsSuck, #GroundballsSuck, or #PitchPlaneDomination to spread the “elevate to celebrate” gospel.

Boost “Top Out” Bat Speed By “Hiding The Hands”, Like JD Martinez…

 

Proper Baseball Hitting Mechanics Zepp Experiment: Hiding Your Hands Like JD Martinez

JD Martinez hiding his hands from the pitcher. Photo courtesy: MLB.com

 

Question: Does Hiding the Hands Increase Bat Speed versus NOT Hiding Them?

Using the Zepp (Labs) Baseball app, I wanted to use the Scientific Method to analyze if hiding the hands from the pitcher prior to stride landing boosts bat speed, over not hiding them.  Some may call this the “Scap Row”.

And we'll see what proper baseball hitting mechanics look like with MLB Player of the Week (July 6th) JD Martinez of the Detroit Tigers.

My intern for the summer, red-shirt college freshman Tyler Doerner did the experiment.

Background Research

Most hitting instructors may call this the Scapula Row, or Scap Row for short.  “Hiding the hands” is essentially the same thing, but is a much more sticky coaching cue.

“Hiding the Hands” has to do with loading the springy fascial material in the body.  Without this springy fascia your bones and muscles would drop to the ground.  It's what gives muscles their shape, and what the bones and muscles ‘float' in, according to Thomas Myers in his book Anatomy Trains.

“Hiding the Hands” also allows a hitter to be in proper baseball hitting mechanics to achieve high angular velocity early in the turn.  This has to do with the Conservation of Angular Momentum.  Achieving high angular velocity, early in the turn, is critical to Time To Impact and covering more plane of the pitch with the barrel.

On the contrary though, arm barring (or high moment of inertia) early in the turn would cause a challenge for hitters getting to pitches high in the strike zone and inside, according to Perry Husbands work on Effective Velocity.  Here's a quote from the preceding SBNation.com link about Effective Velocity:

“His [Perry Husband's] interest lies not in how fast a given pitch travels, but how fast it appears to a hitter.”

Hypothesis

Based on the above research, I think proper baseball hitting mechanics, a la “Hiding the Hands”, from the pitcher (pre-turn) will have a big impact on bat speed versus not hiding them.  I think results will be similar to what the “Showing the Numbers” Experiment revealed, where we saw an average bat speed increase of 6-mph over 200 swings.

 

Proper Baseball Hitting Mechanics: JD Martinez “Hiding Hands” Experiment

SwingAway Pro XXL Model

Tyler uses a SoloHitter in the Experiment. The SwingAway Bryce Harper is swinging on is similar.

Equipment Used:

  • Zepp Baseball app,
  • Solohitter (like the SwingAway which I like better),
  • Camera Phone, Coaches Eye app, and Tripod, and
  • 33 inch, 30 ounce wood bat.

Setup:

  • Forward momentum was eliminated in this experiment, and hitting from a 1-2 second pause at landing
  • First 100 baseballs were hit “NOT Hiding the Hands”
  • Second 100 baseballs were hit “Hiding the Hands”
  • There was no break between tests because Tyler was trying to beat the rains coming

 

Data Collected (Zepp Baseball App):

Proper Baseball Hitting Mechanics Zepp Experiment Results: Hiding the Hands

In this proper baseball hitting mechanics “Hiding the Hands” Zepp Experiment, see how “Hiding the Hands” slightly won out in Bat & Hand Speed, and Time to Impact rather than “Not Hiding the Hands”…

 

Data Analysis & Conclusion

  • As you can see, “Hiding the Hands” beat almost every category…
  • On average, 1-mph change in Bat Speed,
  • On average, 1-mph change in Hand Speed, and
  • On average, .005 change in Time To Impact.

“Hiding the Hands” didn't have a significant jump in bat and hand speed, or Time To Impact than “NOT Hiding the Hands.”  But there was a difference in top-out bat speeds:

  • Top-4 “Hiding the Hands” bat speeds (in mph): 85, 84, 84, and 82.
  • Top-4 “Not Hiding the Hands” bat speeds (in mph): 82, 81, and the rest were less than 79.

So, top out bat speed increased by 3-mph, and there were consistent higher bat speeds with “Hiding the Hands”.

Notes

  • The results of the proper baseball hitting mechanics “Hiding the Hands” Zepp Experiment may have been skewed because Tyler didn't take a break between tests.
  • The following experiments will be using what one of my readers and motor learning and performance researcher Brad McKay suggests, which is counterbalancing the experiment.  Essentially it's breaking experiment swings into 25 swing blocks, and ordering them a certain way.  For example, “Hiding the Hands” would be block “A”, and “Not Hiding the Hands” would be block “B”.  The 200 swings would be broken into 8 blocks and ordered accordingly: ABBA BAAB.  As Brad McKay says, “The issue with not counterbalancing is that you don't actually know the effect of time because it is confounded with condition. In other words, you might always do better on the second block of 100 because of a warm-up decrement or a practice effect.”  Thank you Brad for the experiment tip!  We'll do better next time 😀
  • About JD Martinez…this FanGraphs.com link titled, “JD Martinez on His Many Adjustments” is a great example of players today opening their eyes to how the body really moves, and not what some talking head thinks.  Basically, JD Martinez subscribed to swinging “down on the ball” until he got injured in 2014, I believe.  Then he started analyzing teammates' and opponents' swings that were crushing the ball, and found out they weren't swinging down at all.
  • A week or two after the 2015 All Star break, according to FanGraphs.com, JD Martinez had 27 homers.  His season high before that? 23, in 2014.  To me, JD Martinez is a big slugger at 6'3″, 220-pounds.  But when big sluggers do small slugger things (like being more effective with mechanics), even bigger things can happen.  JD Martinez does a great job of “Showing his Numbers” and “Hiding the Hands”.  This compresses the springy fascia material in the body.

The Bottom Line?

In this proper baseball hitting mechanics “Hiding the Hands” Zepp Swing Experiment, “Hiding the Hands” doesn't seem to give a hitter a significant jump in Bat and Hand Speed, or Time to Impact.  But definitely an increase nonetheless.  But what using proper baseball hitting mechanics, like “Hiding the Hands”, does appear to do, is boost top-out bat speeds.  AND, make those top-out bat speeds repeatable.