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March 14, 2014

Going Yard

The Many Swings of Chris Davis

by Ryan Parker


Chris Davis came into the major leagues in 2008 as a highly touted slugger from East Texas who was expected to hit monster home runs in bunches. He hit 17 home runs in a little less than half a season, but the next three seasons were the most frustrating three years of his baseball career. That began a stretch during which his swing was under heavy scrutiny and suffered numerous ill-advised changes. Davis was chosen for this article because the swing changes he made or was encouraged to make are some of the “go-to” changes hitting coaches will push upon their players.

Let’s look at bright-eyed Chris Davis as he hits a home run in his first year in the show. Here he has an upright stance coupled with some moving parts. He loads his hands down and tight to his body as his front leg moves. Not the simplest move, and Davis seemed to be in organization that considered simpler better. There is obvious intent to hurt the baseball in his swing, but that intent wouldn't translate into production until three years later, when he was traded away from the Rangers.

Take a moment to get familiar with the identity of Chris Davis. He holds his hands very deep, with his back elbow at a 90-degree angle. During the gather phase of his swing he uses a decent-sized leg lift combined with a slight lowering of his hands. His natural approach is incredible for a power hitter. Watch his hips. The front of his hips angles up while he inwardly rotates his back hip just a bit. He then lines his whole swing up with his hip to give an upward trajectory to the ball. He torques his hips back early then aggressively begins to open them, all while holding his shoulders square. This is great hip flexibility. The one drawback is his back knee. It ends up in a great place but is a tad late getting there. Watch how Davis’ back knee rotates back toward the catcher before driving forward and down. If 2008 Chris Davis wanted to get everything into the ball he had to commit extremely early.

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Related Content:  Texas Rangers,  Baltimore Orioles,  Scouting

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Eddie Bajek

This is great.

Mar 14, 2014 05:00 AM
rating: 9
 
nriguardi

Do you think Ike Davis can revive his career?

Mar 14, 2014 07:16 AM
rating: 0
 
MHaywood1025

I'm really enjoying this column so far, I can't wait to read more!

Mar 14, 2014 10:58 AM
rating: 0
 
pobothecat

Oh yeah, likin' this stuff a lot.

Mar 14, 2014 11:57 AM
rating: 0
 
pobothecat

This reminds me of Butch Harmon. The vast majority of teachers teach what they know. Harmon works on what you need. It's the rare instructor whose frame of reference isn't himself.

Mar 14, 2014 12:04 PM
rating: 2
 
sportspopery

The thing that strikes me is that many of the same changes could've worked wonders on another hitter. It just didn't work on Davis. Texas has always had a pretty solid reputation for coaching, so I'm hesitant to say this or that was 'wrong'--it's just so happened that it didn't work in this instance and the changed the Orioles' coaches applied work. It's science, and it's art, and may they forever remain united.

Mar 14, 2014 17:45 PM
rating: 1
 
casejud

I think that is diplomatic of you, and partly correct. I also think that if you mess around with a monster talent like Davis and LOSE HIM, and give away all of that value, that is just too big of an error to take.

I think essentially, some people just mentally.... cannot handle... strikeouts. They take them as a sign of a lack of something within a young player, instead of just a byproduct of a powerful swing.

If they would have done nothing, let him play, and adjust on his own. I believe that the Rangers would have had themselves a superstar now. I think the Ranger's handling of Davis is like "bad parenting".

Mar 15, 2014 12:50 PM
rating: 1
 
casejud

I love it, Ryan. Great stuff1 A man after my own, baseball, heart - one who appreciates POWER in a swing, and doesn't freak out over strikeouts.

Have you had a chance to watch Joey Gallo swing the bat?

Mar 15, 2014 12:52 PM
rating: 0
 
balticwolf

Great stuff. So happy for Chris. As an Oriole fan, not so happy to know he might be gone in two years since Scott Boras is his agent.

Showalter is a great asset to the Orioles organization because of the numerous contacts he's made in baseball. In 2011, what started as a simple trade for Tommy Hunter morphed into Chris Davis being added in the deal. And that happened because Buck's contacts in the Rangers minor leagues--Buck had a hand in Texas drafting Davis--assured him that Davis just needed a change of scenery.

Mar 16, 2014 17:37 PM
rating: 0
 
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Premium Article Minor League Update: S... (03/14)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Going Yard: The Scienc... (03/12)
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Going Yard: The Power ... (03/17)
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