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May 1, 2014

Going Yard

How Hunter Pence's Freak-Show Swing Works

by Ryan Parker


When I’m not watching baseball I spend my days teaching everyone from 8-year-olds to All-Americans how to improve their swings. A batting cage at East Coast Baseball Academy is my laboratory. Between the mechanical tweaks and endless batting practice there comes a time for young hitters to look at video of major leaguers and learn how the best at the game move their bodies. My favorite swings to use as examples are smooth and athletic. We look at Pujols, Cabera, Posey, etc. We don’t look at Hunter Pence. Maybe we should.

Pence is a career .280 hitter who hits 25 bombs a year. If his job was to have a pretty swing then he would be out of luck. Fortunately for him, his job is to hit baseballs and he has found a way to be extremely successful at his job. It’s time to put Pence under microscope and examine what mechanical features have allowed him to be such a productive ball player.

The strangeness in his swing starts in his stance. He is a big man but hits from a wide, crouched position. His front toe lines up with his back heel, giving him an open stance. Even with the foot being open his hips are straight and line up to the pitcher. His shoulders are closed off just a bit. His front shoulder points somewhere between the pitcher and first baseman. These positions aren’t unusual. The fact that Pence starts in this position is.

Most hitters who use an open stance will use the gather and approach phases of their swing to reach the position Pence starts at. Here’s Chipper Jones showing a more traditional open stance and striding pattern. Pay attention to how Jones loads his hips and shoulders during his first tap step. So while its not typical, Pence just skips a step. There is nothing inherently wrong with that idea.

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Related Content:  Scouting,  San Francisco Giants

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (05/01)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Going Yard: How Carlos... (04/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Going Yard: The Swing ... (05/20)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Skewed Left: Staying A... (05/01)

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