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April 15, 2014

Going Yard

How Carlos Gomez Got His Groove

by Ryan Parker


Most hitting changes are subtle and small. Even to the trained eye it can take time to notice a change a hitter may have made months ago. The emergence of Carlos Gomez, All-Star, goes hand-in-hand with a swing change he made at some point between July 6 and 23, 2012.

Before looking at those dates, let’s get familiar with Gomez as a player. He came into the league in 2007 with the Mets before being traded to the Twins in the Johan Santana deal. As a prospect, Gomez was a fascinating case study. I found reports going back to 2006 praising his raw natural power, but it simply never showed up in games. (E.g. “Power is not there now, but potential is there once he adds bulk to his long, lanky frame.”—Kevin Goldstein.) Where his power would take time his speed was immediate and his ticket into a big-league lineup. He never broke double digits in home runs in the minors but he stole over 100 bases combined his first two years on the farm. This was a guy seemingly built to lead off.

Except he wasn’t. Gomez has some superficial qualities of a leadoff hitter. His bat is quick and his speed should never slump. While the bat speed and the foot speed speak to hitting first in the lineup, his actual swing says otherwise. Here is the prototypical leadoff hitter in Jose Reyes taking some swings:

Watch how his hips and hands work. His hips are rotating as he makes contact. His hands move on a very flat plane before reaching out to contact. His lead arm is away from his body at the point of contact. After contact he finishes with his hands below his shoulders.

Also watch how his back arm works. At the deepest point in his gather phase his back elbow is below his shoulder. Usually hitters have their elbows around shoulder height at this point. The next movement would be to turn the barrel using both the hands and back elbow. The hands turn while the back elbow drives forward and down. It's a tough movement to explain so we’ll yield the podium to Professor Cabrera.

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Related Content:  Scouting,  Mechanics,  Carlos Gomez,  Hitting

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (04/15)
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