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March 12, 2014

Going Yard

The Science of Swinging

by Ryan Parker


Let’s cut through the noise. My name is Ryan Parker, and I love the violence and beauty of a baseball swing.

I’m passionate about hitting and about making sure the next generation of hitters gets the right advice. In this article, I'll tackle some modern hitting “truths” that I've seen too often throughout my career as a player, scout, coach, and instructor. These are the phrases that get repeated endlessly and threaten to harm players' swings:

  • Get the front foot down early
  • Rotational vs. linear hitting
  • Take the hands to the ball
  • Keep the front shoulder down
  • Let the ball travel and hit it deep in the zone

I will use Jose Bautista as an example throughout this article, not because his swing is ideal but because his movements are so pronounced and easy to see that they make for great teaching moments. I'll also include shots of two of the best swings in the game, those of Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey.

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Related Content:  Scouting

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

BP Comment Quick Links

bobbygrace

I'm really excited for this series.

One mantra that didn't come up is "Keep your weight back." What role does weight transfer play in the process, if any? In the gather/load phase, you mention not getting too much weight "stuck on the backside." I'd be interested to hear more about that.

Mar 12, 2014 03:24 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ryan Parker
BP staff

Weight transfer is a huge but I tend use phrases involving momentum. Generate momentum early and allow it to transfer into the ball. Think of throwing a punch. You do transfer weight forward but its not a lunge. It's a controlled burst of momentum meant to do maximum damage.

Mar 12, 2014 06:24 AM
 
ChicagoOriole

I think this is wonderful.

If you could pick a struggling hitter to follow at some point this season, to look at the adjustments he tries, that would be nice to see. What does a hitter who is "off" do to get "on"?

Mar 12, 2014 04:34 AM
rating: 4
 
oskinner

Way cool step forward by BP, guys.....

Mar 12, 2014 06:07 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Jason Collette
BP staff

Do you have GIF's of these swings that you could share with us? It would be fun to take gifscrubber of gfycat to them and play with the views. Thanks

Mar 12, 2014 06:22 AM
 
suchit13

Thank you, this is awesome and will be fun to follow going forward.

Any thoughts on including a Doug Thorburn, Raising Aces-type of mechanics report card with the analysis of the hitters?

Might also be nice to see Jose Bautista evaluated at different points in his career to see the mechanical changes broken down.

Mar 12, 2014 06:33 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Ryan Parker
BP staff

I'm working a Thornburn style report card but its still a rough cut. Bautista is fun to look because his movements are so big and when he makes changes he goes for broke.

Mar 12, 2014 06:48 AM
 
BP staff member Ryan Parker
BP staff

Can't really do what Doug does for pitchers for hitters. I will have my hitter reports and breakdowns where I analyze different components of their swing but I will leave the putting a 20-80 aspect a Doug Thorburn trademark.

Mar 12, 2014 07:03 AM
 
Plucky

I'd love to see analyses of current & past 'quirky' (or at least quirky-looking) swings of past & present to see what makes them work. Jeff Bagwell's comes to mind

Mar 12, 2014 07:31 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Ryan Parker
BP staff

Great idea! It's cool to see how guys with crazy stances end up lining up their swings just like guys with more typical set ups. Could have some fun with this topic.

Mar 12, 2014 07:41 AM
 
comish4lif

Talking crazy baseball stances? No one had a crazier stance than Tony Batista's completely open set up.

Mar 12, 2014 09:17 AM
rating: 1
 
jnossal

Mark Quinn.

Mar 13, 2014 14:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Gotribe31

Bagwell was one of the first people I thought of when I saw this article.

Mar 12, 2014 15:03 PM
rating: 0
 
suttonri

Thanks, that's a great summary of swing sequence. Could you cover the timing of reaching the slot position some more? The hitter has loaded somewhere between the pitcher's leg lift and hand separation, but about when should toe tap be reached? When the ball is 1/2 way to the plate? Does it depend on pitch speed?

Mar 12, 2014 09:09 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ryan Parker
BP staff

Depends more on the hitter, their batspeed, and how they track the ball. Hitters with batspeed afford themselves a bit more time to get their toe down. Some hitters track the ball with their front foot still in the air. Think of Jose Bautista, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman, etc.. Others prefer to land on the toe earlier and track the ball with their toe on the ground. Think of David Wright, Ian Kinsler, etc... Different strokes for different folks.

Hope that clears things up. Love the question.

Mar 12, 2014 09:25 AM
 
bleaklewis

This is awesome stuff looking forward to this series! I'd love to see some analysis of bad ball hitters and how they cover such a large area. Some insight into how batting coaches instruct all of these different movements you described would we be great too.

Mar 12, 2014 09:37 AM
rating: 0
 
tonyfranco

An aspect of Bagwell's swing that always stood out to me was that his feet were wider at setup than at impact. He actually strode backwards.

Mar 12, 2014 10:22 AM
rating: 0
 
Andy5Schwall

After seeing some of the Bagwell comments, this was exactly what I was thinking. I wonder how that affected his momentum. Probably helped that he was beastly strong.

Mar 12, 2014 17:53 PM
rating: 0
 
jemw06

Ryan, this was awesome to read, lots of good information on the baseball swing, looking forward to the Crush Davis look, thanks!

Mar 12, 2014 14:24 PM
rating: 0
 
therealn0d

I can't remember the year, But I seem to recall a Sports Illustrated doing an analysis of the similarities between the golf swing and the baseball swing, specifically at impact...specifically spine angle, shoulder rotation, upper body torsion, etc. I've seen lots of baseball players with pretty bad golf swings, but they were all appreciably better than Charles Barkley's.

Mar 12, 2014 15:28 PM
rating: -1
 
Andy5Schwall

Excellent article, Ryan! Really looking forward to the series. Also, it made me feel pretty good as a high school hitting coach since these are the things I teach. I even use the video you got the Bautista shots from!

Mar 12, 2014 17:51 PM
rating: 0
 
Arm Side Run

I'd love to see some more in depth explanations and examples about each element of the swing, and more on the "truths" we hear about so often. Where ever this goes next though, I'm excited. Definitely looking forward to more in this series!

Mar 12, 2014 18:01 PM
rating: 0
 
MPC203

Great stuff. I'd really like to read something on Giancarlo Stanton. The swing seems so simple and violent and he seems to generate a ton of backspin. Other than a faux toe tap, there doesn't seem to be much to it.

However, he's in the bottom 2% in miss percentage the last three seasons and bunched with guys like Carlos Pena, Adam Dunn and Mark Reynolds. Is this just the way it has to be for guys who hit moon shots? Anything obvious a guy like that needs to change?

Mar 12, 2014 18:24 PM
rating: 0
 
kcheaden

This is awesome. As a hitting junkie I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. A few guys I'd love to see an analysis on: Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Eric Hosmer (specifically the changes he made last season with George Brett to stop locking up his swing), Frank Thomas (a guy that almost always lifted his back foot off the ground).

Mar 12, 2014 19:49 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ryan Parker
BP staff

I have a ton of notes on Hosmer and those changes already down. Don't know if they will end up being in a Homser-centric article or part of another piece about general swing changes.

Mar 12, 2014 20:38 PM
 
BelongstotheReds

Would LOVE to see Eric Davis' swing broken down here. He went from looking like he was about to fall asleep to just exploding through the zone in a way you had to see to believe.

Mar 12, 2014 20:10 PM
rating: 1
 
kcheaden

Good one. Darryl Strawberry and Jay Buhner would be interesting as well.

And from what I just saw of Javier Baez destroying a baseball he's definitely going to be a fun one to follow.

Mar 12, 2014 20:27 PM
rating: 0
 
JCelona34

Loved the article!!! Really looking forward to this series Would be interesting to see a breakdown of Kevin Youkilis or Julio Franco at some point

Mar 13, 2014 10:46 AM
rating: 0
 
nyyfaninlaaland

Perhaps as a last live chance and despite him likely getting a lot of attention, a look at Jeter snd opposite field hitting.

Mar 13, 2014 22:12 PM
rating: 0
 
BayCityM

As a hitting instructor I rejoined BP just for these articles. The one question I have is about "letting the ball get deep". How does this pertain to hitting outside pitches. If you try to contact that ball at the same point that you would contact an inside pitch you would be out on your front foot.

Thanks for taking the question.

Apr 25, 2014 09:06 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ryan Parker
BP staff

You will hit the outside pitch a bit further back on the plate than you would an inside pitch. Inside pitches you hit the furthest out front, middle a bit closer to the plate, and outside pitches behind that.

For outside pitches I teach my guys to flatten the barrel a bit sooner and think of extending through the ball. Too many guys simply reach for the ball and extend "to" the ball if that makes sense.

Where do you do your instruction? I always love talking with other hitting coaches. Feel free to shoot me an email at any time.

Apr 30, 2014 19:02 PM
 
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Premium Article Minor League Update: S... (03/12)
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Premium Article Going Yard: The Many S... (03/14)
Next Article >>
The Art and Science of... (03/12)

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