Monthly Archives: July 2015

Inertia: Power from the Back of the Bus

force

(This article and the one following will elaborate on my previous 5 Posts)

Most elementary Science teachers will begin their instruction on the study of inertia with the application of its principle along with a frame of reference relative to the Newtonian laws of motion. Simply stated, inertia is the tendency of a body at rest, or in motion, to remain in that state unless acted upon by an external force. The common imagery used by teachers is that of a bus colliding head-on with an immovable object. If the bus is travelling at a speed of 100 MPH, and the object hit is truly immoveable, then the entire contents (unless securely fastened) at the back of the bus will explode forward at the speed of 100 MPH. Newton’s third law of motion helps to enhance the imagery by understanding that, “every action has an opposite and equal reaction”.

The principles governing the aforementioned laws have their applications in various aspects of our National Pastime. A casual observer would be hard pressed to notice the specific application of Physics in correlation to the areas of fielding and running, although we all know they are there. But with regard to batting and throwing, everyone has at least an inkling of an understanding that proper mechanical application of the subtle laws of physics has afforded certain individuals uncommon advantage over their less astute peers.
Raw strength is usually a great advantage one has over a player with noticeably less power. When both are equally adept in mechanical technique, then the stronger will always have the upper-hand. But if the less strong player has better mechanics, he is usually the more proficient batsman, even with regard to hitting for distance. Look at Joe Morgan, Ted Williams and Stan Musial compared to larger, more muscular players.Joe Morgan 2williams.batWeight-training1
There are many facets to consider when establishing the proper mechanics for batting and throwing, but this essay will consider only how the “inertial principle” is applied, relative to the size and strength of individuals throwing and hitting a baseball. The forward movements of the bus and the body are not identical, but their accommodation to the Physics principle is similar enough to be of practical import. To be remembered is the additional fact that if the object struck by the bus is not totally immoveable, the degree to which the impact is defused will determine the actual speed of the objects thrown forward inside the bus ( if not securely fastened).
Newton’s equation, F=ma, is described as, the Force unleashed is equal to the mass (size, weight, and strength) times the speed of acceleration of the moving object. Therefore a bus and a motor-cycle hitting an immoveable object will not have the same force of impact. However, a rider on a motor-cycle and a rider on top of a bus, each travelling at a speed of 100 MPH, and each having a baseball in hand, toss the balls forward at 5 MPH. Both balls would travel at a speed 105 MPH.
So, how does a human-body generate the amount of force that is equal to the body’s mass times acceleration (F=ma) to throw and hit a baseball with maximum power?
In Baseball it is not uncommon to see a “little-guy” throw and hit a baseball as hard as does the “big-guy”. Although the “big-guy” might have more size and weight, he might not generate the same speed of acceleration as the “little-guy”. But in cases where the “big-guy” generates the same, or greater speed, the Force becomes uncontestable, and incomparable (Bo Jackson and Mark McQwire).Ossie Smith 1Bo Jackson 2Albert Pujols 15Cincinnati Reds v Houston Astros
Although the speed of a thrown ball is important at all positions on the field, we will place maximum attention on the pitcher. Except for situations when a runner is on base, the pitcher can take his time and build increasing momentum before coming to the point where his front foot will plant firmly into the ground to form “the immoveable” foundation, from which the entire back-side of his body will be catapulted forward with tremendous force. The extent to which that foot secures the ground while the strength and speed with which the quadriceps muscle of its upper thigh contracts to straighten the entire leg and brace the hip-joint around which the back-side rotates to a frontal position before catapulting forward, determines the initial surge of force from the lower body.NolanRyan 13nolan-ryan 5Tanaka 22Billy_wagner 9Billy W.13
The instant before the front leg is completely straightened, the upper body is arched back and squared to the target while the throwing shoulder and arm are prepared to launch the ball. At that point, the front foot and leg exert their final burst of power, sending the backward arched torso into an explosive forward tumbling action which in turn catapults the outwardly rotated shoulder and corresponding bent arm to deliver the pitched ball with maximum force. If the entire throwing apparatus is precise, and throwing “mechanics” are applied correctly, but the front foot plant is not presented as “immoveable”, but gives way, then the amount of Force to be generated is compromised and cannot attain “maximum” utility.
With regard to Hitting with power, the same principle is involved, the front-foot plant. But the big difference is in the manner in which the second surge of power is administered. During the first stage, the front foot secures the ground (foot pointed 120 degrees to the pitcher-to reduce ankle or knee sprain), with knee slightly bent. The back bent-leg and the front leg work synergistically at this point to induce a rapid turnstile hip-action that concludes with the front leg straightening forcefully as the back bent-knee provides the forward momentum of its backside by the contractual pulling of the groin and “butt” muscles.BarryBonds_bat flatBarry Bonds 42001-10-05-bonds homerun-follow throughC.Davis 6Chris Davis 2
While the front leg is in the process of straightening, the second phase of power has begun with the twisting-torque action of the “Oblique” core-group of muscles as well the entire lower torso. As the shoulders and upper torso are concluding the swing and the bat is ready to contact the ball, the front leg has completely straightened, providing that “immoveable” barrier from which the entire back-side has provided maximum force with which the bat can make contact with the ball.
 The front foot secures the ground with such force from the straightening front leg that the front hip is being forced open as the back hip is driven forward with equipollence by the aid of a forward driving back bent-knee. If performed properly, the vertical axis of spine and upper body remains constant while the hips are rotating along a consistent horizontal plane. The angle formed, by a diagonal front leg and an upper body and head, as the swing is commencing and concluding is usually not less than 180 degrees.
The “turnstile” action of the batter’s swing allows the vertical axis of the body to remain intact, which facilitates the least amount of head movement. The less head movement, the better the batter can detect the nuances of the speeding ball!
Mark McGwire 6Mark McGwire 5
A 450-foot drive, off a well-attuned swing from Mark McGwire, or any good power-hitter, gives reason to applaud a magnificent stroke. But, how is it that they sometimes hit a prodigious “shot” of 500 feet or more? When you really live up to that favorite expression of batters, “I got it all”, your bat made contact with the ball while the body was turning through the swing with the vertical axis intact!  The centripetal force provided by the stable position of the vertical axis produces the powerful centrifugal force, which magnifies the power elicited by the turning hips and shoulders. All of this is predicated on the “front-foot plant” that provides the “immoveable wall” from which all the power is transferred from the “back of the Bus”.
Anecdotal Notes:
1.      The Best, and most consistent, means for applying the “front foot plant” is for the batter to refrain from taking a stride. Simply, but forcefully, apply quick and powerful pressure to the front foot and leg to initiate the swing – Least margin for error.
2.      Those batters who incorrectly assume that they need a stride, or high knee kick to initiate their swings will unwittingly compromise the proficiency of their foot plants when good pitchers easily offset their timing with off-speed pitches – greater  margin for  error.
Coming Soon: Quick Hands did not Sink the Titanic! 

 

 

Part 5: Mike Trout

 

The Best! That They can Be? Mike Trout (smile)

Walk-Off H.R. 7/17/15 Unbelievable!

What would it take for the following Batters to become even better Hitters than they have already presented themselves to Be?

mike-trout-batting-1giancarlo-stanton5Miguel Cabrera 2during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.Bryce Harper 20153

How could there be a greater looking Baseball Player than Mike Trout? Mike T.1

Not only does his face and body “talk-the-talk”, but already his ability and demeanor Mike T. (1)Mike T.7have proven, to even the most “cynical” of critics, that he is quite capable of ‘Walking-the- Walk”.  Mike Trout 5 There isn’t any thing on the baseball field, or any “playing field”B. URLACH1, that he isn’t capable of doing to the highest level of performance. The only aspect of his game that I (personally) wish that he would change is his penchant for sliding “head-first” into bases.Mike T.3 I say this for the “selfish” reason of my being deprived of seeing him play when he is on the “disabled list” with jammed or broken fingers, hands, arms, neck, or some other upper body injury that is sure to occur at some time or other.Mike T.13 I know he can slide feet first Mike T.10, so why not and lessen the Rays vs. Angelsinjury potential.

Since this article is primarily on “Batting Proficiency”, I will henceforth cease from the voluminous rhetorical references to Trout’s superlative abilities in areas of running, fielding, throwing, base-stealing, hustle, team-spirit, universal fan-appeal, and commercial notoriety, etc., etc.

Mike Trout2Mike-Trout3 mike-trout11Mike Trout 4mike-trout7Mike Trout16Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout hits a home run against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif. Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)mike-trout-batting-1

Mike Trout seems to be a good hitter, not only from a phenomenal standpoint (big, strong, and quick reflexes), but also gives the appearance of being a “smart-hitter”(knowing what to look for in the “count”). He doesn’t seem to find himself at a disadvantage by taking the Pitcher’s first-pitch fastball for a strike (at least much of the time). Because he can easily go to the opposite field, most pitchers can’t slip a fastball by him, nor can they “off-speed” him away (normally). Even with his “leg-kick” stride, which usually leaves a batter vulnerable to off-speed pitches, he generally stays with a pitch in the strike-zone, and with his short, quick swing is able make solid contact (a good deal of the time), especially the low strike.

As I have described a “good-hitter” as a “smart-batter” who looks for a pitcher’s mistake, and capitalizes on it, and a “great-hitter” as “one” who can hit a pitcher’s best pitch with regularity, Mike Trout could easily fit into “both” categories. Right now I would describe him as a “good-hitter” normally, and a “great-hitter” when the Pitcher’s best pitch remains in the strike-zone (like Grienke’s perfectly placed outside corner fast-ball in the All-Star Game). He can legitimately take a first-pitch fastball right down the middle because he isn’t afraid of a pitcher’s awesome “breaking-pitch”. He can hit “anything in the strike-zone! But, when the pitch looks like it is coming over the plate, and breaks into the dirt, that is one of the only times he looks to be vulnerable as a batter. The only other time he appears to be vulnerable is on the high, inside fastball, a little above the strike-zone. ( That is because of his high stance and high bat, the position from which all his power is generated in downward direction, and toward the plate. On that high pitch his body drives his bat down under the ball on a majority of swings, or he is jammed. Most of the time he takes the high pitch, which attests to his astute judgment. )

The main reason he is vulnerable to those types of pitches is his “high leg kick”. Although it appears that he has terrific eyesight, any movement of the head and eyes is at least a “slight-margin-for-error” when a ball is thrown at speeds of 80 to 100 MPH while transcending innumerable horizontal planes. Since Trout has a keen eye and an almost flawless discernment of the “strike-zone”, the only reason he swings at hard sliders in the dirt (or away) is because his perception (as well as the “2-strike complex”) wrongly informs him that the pitch is about to be a “low-strike”. Before he realizes, he is swinging at a pitch outside or below the strike-zone. And the only reason for it is that for the moment his visual acuity was skewed.

The only practical reason for this momentary distorted view is the slight dis-lodgment of the mechanism for visual stability, the head and eyes, due to the high leg-kick stride and “glide” toward the plate. Novice fielders who have the occasion to chase fly-balls or pop-ups while running full-speed will verify how the ball sometimes seems to play tricks on them, and make them difficult to catch, because while running the head is usually bobbing and distorting their vision. “Hitting a baseball is the most difficult thing to do in all of sports” (because of all the variables to be put in order). So, would it not be reasonable to presume that any head movement, while batting, is a natural deterrent to the most efficient practice of hitting of a baseball?

Mike Trout (or any “good hitter”), if he would like to become a “Great Hitter”, would have to eliminate as many margins for error as would be possible. Mike’s biggest “margin for error” has to do with his lack of complete “visual acuity” because of two things: 1) his high bat and high-stanceMike Trout2; and 2) his high leg-kick strideMike Trout10mike-trout7. Since even the slightest degree of movement of head and eyes diminishes maximum efficiency to that same degree, the lateral, vertical, and horizontal movements that Trout’s body displays will degrade the accuracy of his swing to that same degree.

It is reasonable to assume that Mike Trout (as well as Miguel Cabrera) could easily be considered a “great-hitter” because he has been known to hit the best of pitchers “best pitch” (Grienke in 2015 All-Star Game) on many occasions. Mike Trout may some day become a “Great-Hitter”, but because of his inconsistency in applying “perfect-mechanics” he is not yet as great as he would like himself to be.

Most (if not all) batters relegate themselves to vulnerability to the greatest “margin-for-error” in the entire batting regimen.  What is the only way to assure oneself of readiness to swing his bat? The front foot must be planted! The only place where “timing” can be disrupted is in the stride. The batter never really knows when to put his foot down. Therefore, never pick up the front foot. Simply generate the needed momentum prior to swing by readying the hips to bring the shoulders, arms, and bat to the ball. By not striding, any batter will see the ball with utmost clarity, and allow for much better contact, no matter how strong he is.” But a player with the power and precision of a Mike Trout would eliminate the greatest deterrent to batting proficiency if he would not stride. If he never raised his front foot, his batting acumen would be closer to flawless!

One thing to always remember, when trying to appreciate the ultimate power of the swing, is that, once the front foot is planted firmly all power is initiated by quick turning of the hips instigated by the driving back bent-knee, the leg of which never straightens. This principle is elaborated upon in an article entitled, “Inertia: Power from the Back of the Bus”, dated 9/13/13, on this website, www.johnpaciorek.com.

If anyone was not convinced that Mike Trout is the Best “all-around” player in Major-League Baseball, then, the 2015 All-Star Game should have made that fact ultra-clear. Not only did he spark his American League team to victory with his “lead-off” Home Run in the first inning off the National League’s “premier-pitcher”, Zack Greinke, but with his subtle brilliance in other areas of play secured an historic honor of being the first Major-League player to win back to back MVP awards in the All-Star Games; and at the tender age of 23 years.

His performance in the All-Star Game is simply a “post-script” to the essay you have just read. His line-drive Home-Run to Right Field against Greinke demonstrated his ability on one “At-bat” to hit the “Best-Pitcher’s” best pitch (“on the ‘black’, out-side corner fast-ball”), while striking out  his next time up on a “best” pitcher’s (Cole) hard, outside slider, completely outside the strike-zone. The “subtle-brilliance”, to which I referred earlier, is when Mike miss-hit a Clayton Kershaw pitch, and beat out what would have been an easy double-play to any one other than himself. He later scored, and helped ignite a rally that proved consequential to the Game’s outcome. The irony to this exceptionally honorific occasion is that it could’ve gone in a diametrically opposite direction if Greinke had thrown that, or  any other, “best” pitch outside the strike-zone. The “gods” certainly do seem to favor Mike Trout, and rightly so – even if does “take a first-pitch fastball strike, right down the middle”.

There is no better Baseball player than MIKE TROUT! But if he would like to be the Game’s “Best Hitter”, he will have to do a little better job at “REDUCING – HIS – MARGINS – for – ERROR”.

*Uhrehara made the mistake of placing his “best-pitch” within the strike-zone, and “low” in the strike- zone, to boot!

 

 

 

 

Part 4: Bryce Harper

The Best! That They can Be? 

What would it take for the following Batters to become even better Hitters than they have already presented themselves to Be?

Bryce Harper 20153mike-trout-batting-1giancarlo-stanton5Miguel Cabrera 2during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.B.Harper R3WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals bats against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on April 9, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) bryce-harper 2015 2Bryce Harper 20153B.Harper R2 Bryce Harper has finally begun looking and acting like the “Big-Leaguer” he seemed destined to become. I was never impressed with all the “hype” that came with the accolades that preceded his arrival into the professional ranks because I knew that all achievements attained in “formative” years could hardly stand the test of replication on the Major-League level. I wanted him to succeed from the beginning because he embodied everything I wanted to be, do, and have when I was 17 years old. (http://www.cbs.com/shows/cbs_this_morning/video/0Gczy9M1_YFSmuahcP_P6xUS_4ndES8v/paciorek-s-perfect-mlb-stats-after-one-day-career/)

But Bryce went beyond any superficial exterior dimension of sensationalism with his apparent arrogance and self-centered demeanor. Although he and I had the inexhaustible energy to do what it took to be the best we could be, he obviously went about pursuing his “Goal” in a much more intelligent way. In this modern era he probably had access to better means of facilitating a “strength-developing” program that would not have endorsed the practice of no-handed “head stands” to create a 19 1/2  inch neck to look like Mickey Mantle. Dumb! Whatever Bryce does, or did, to develop the strength and speed of his swing is a testament to a well conceived plan to maximize power, flexibility, and quickness with which to provide for the proficient use of his body to accentuate his efforts on the Baseball Field.

B.Harper R15B.Harper R13B.Harper R11B.Harper R7B.Harper R8B.Harper R9B.Harper R12B.Harper R5B.harper R10B.Harper R2

Although his first few seasons were marked with fewer successes than he envisioned, and quite a few “growing pains”, his batting potential was evident along with a high quality defensive prowess and a dogged determination to be the best he could be, or at least the equal to Mike Trout. I know that’s how I would have felt, “How can I be better than the ‘Best’?” To his credit, he made each of his setbacks temporary, until he found, what many “experts” concur, an intangible formula that has him blossoming into the Star he expected himself to be.

I say “intangible” because most, if not all, commentators are at a loss for tangible hypotheses as to why he seems to have suddenly found the secret to credible batting success.  “They” recall that the evidence first appeared in last year’s playoffs, where he was the only Nationals player to make a contribution to the ill-fated “post-season”. His short-lived individual triumphs must have whet his appetite for enhanced understanding of refined batting efficiency. The “new season” must have fostered a “new resolve” to temper somewhat the “old-mentality” to rely completely on an obsolete notion that he could dominate all situations with physicality alone. “With all my physical strength, there must be some technical reason why I am off-balance on “off-speed” pitches, and I consistently “slice” many fast-balls to the opposite field instead of making impact-full, solid contact,” he may have contemplated.

Bryce Harper may very well be on his way to achieving a status as one of Baseball’s best hitters with his adaptation to the Principle(s) of applying mechanical correctness  to his batting regimen. At this point in his developmental continuum he has reduced 2 margins for error that had previously limited his long awaited success. He begins his batting approach now with his bat on shoulders with arms and hands relaxed B.Harper R3(like Posey, Goldschmidt, Stanton) while awaiting the pitcher’s commitment to throw, instead of hands and bat above his head B.Harper R13. When the pitcher commences in throwing, Bryce addresses the in-coming pitch with elbow, hands, and bat below the shoulders B.Harper R8 and in a low center of gravity, instead ofB.Harper R11 with elbow above shoulders, taller stance and higher center of gravity.

With elbow, hands, and bat lowered,  in a strong, crouching stance a batter is assured of a low center-of-gravity, which allows for better balance and clearer vision of an incoming pitch, as well as a smaller strike-zone for the pitcher (and umpire) to negotiate. With his current stance and initial approach to the ball, Bryce will experience more success than he did previously, if he can sustain a “timing-mechanism” to differentiate consistently the contrast of speeds that any smart pitcher (Cueto, recently) will devise to off-set his “timing”. Herein lies the main problem Bryce will encounter while sustaining a consistent “Batting Regimen” to establish himself as the “Best” of the “Best-Hitters” in Baseball.

Bryce Harper has a Beautiful swing B.Harper R12B.harper R10B.Harper R9. The Principle he applies at the contact point is flawless, just like all good and great hitters.mike-trout-batting-1giancarlo-stanton5Yas1Chris Davis 2AlbertPujolsLOWER_HALF_DRIVE_HIPSMatt Kemp 13Kemp Front AnkleGood Swing 1BarryBonds_bat flatBarry Bonds HRTedWilliamsShortSwing3 However, even with the “great” swings that all the batters (above) demonstrate, not any of them experience the same consistent “effect” with every pitched ball they swing at. Even the great Ted Williams (above) would have appreciated the pitch to be delivered at the same place, at the same speed, and be able to demonstrate the same stroke all the time. He would have batted at least .500 perennially. He would know exactly when and where to place his front foot, and have perfect timing with every swing. “Hitting a baseball (with authority) is the most difficult thing to do in all of sports”, is a quote made famous by Mr. Williams. It is made even more difficult by those “would be” proficient hitters, with all their physical ability, who do not understand the “margins for error” that most of them impose upon themselves.

Bryce Harper appears to have reduced slightly two definitive “margins for error”, the extremely high-hands and bat, and a high stance. His center-of-gravity is thus lower, so his balance and vision will be better than before. With his physical strength and determined mental attitude, he needs only to diminish or eliminate the most detrimental of the myriad “margins for error” – The Stride – in order to attain his ultimate goal of being the Best of the Best hitters in Baseball. As of today (7/8/15), he has the strongest and fastest body-action for bringing the bat to the ball. But with his stride, he is sometimes at a loss for applying the “front-foot plant” at the correct time to initiate the hip and shoulder action of his powerful swing.

What is the only way to assure oneself of readiness to swing his bat? The front foot must be planted! The only place where “timing” can be disrupted is in the stride. The batter never really knows when to put his foot down. Therefore, never pick up the front foot! Simply generate the needed momentum prior to swing by readying the hips to bring the shoulders, arms, and bat to the ball. By not striding, any batter will see the ball with utmost clarity, and allow for much better contact, no matter how strong he is.” But a player with the power and quickness of a Bryce Harper would eliminate the greatest deterrent to batting proficiency if he would not stride. (See article, “Inertia…” 9/13/13)

* As a footnote to the Bryce Harper “Future-Legacy”, when he perfects his “No-Stride” approach to hitting, it will also have been revealed to him the additional advantage of “chocking-up” on his bat (for maximum bat control), as well as pointing his front foot at a 120 degree angle to the pitcher (like Williams, DiMaggio, Bonds) ted_williams_ bat routejoe-dimaggio-s-legs-in-batting-stance-at-home-plateBarry  Bonds 9. The “120 degree Principle” will eliminate the sensation of twisting, spraining, or dislocating the ankle and knee when the batter’s stance has his front foot pointing toward home-plate when he starts and commences with his swing Kemp Front Ankle (like Matt Kemp and others). When the foot is at 90 degrees to the pitcher, it is impossible for a batter to apply maximum pressure to the front foot. It is simply natural for those who do place the foot at 90 degrees to abruptly twist it into a more comfortable position as the swing is concluding, thus disrupting the natural flow of the swing itself (like Ryan Howard).

Coming Soon: Part 5 – Mike Trout

 

Part 3: Paul Goldschmidt

The Best! That They can Be? 

What would it take for the following Batters to become even better Hitters than they have already presented themselves to Be?

during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.Bryce Harper 20153mike-trout-batting-1giancarlo-stanton5Miguel Cabrera 2

during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 12, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 13:  Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the San Francisco Giants during the game at AT&T Park on Saturday, June 13, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Paul Goldschmidtduring the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

From a purely physical standpoint, Paul Goldschmidt doesn’t seem as imposing as the other 4 “bats-men” above. But as the truer representative of mechanical correctness, he reduces the “margins for error” better than the others, and therefore holds the top stop for “Batting Proficiency”. Although both he and Giancarlo Stanton initiate their addressing of the pitcher with hands and bat held high above the right shoulder, before delivery of the pitch they bring the bat to a more reasonable position below the shoulder by dropping the elbow closer to side, thus creating a lower center-of-gravity. From there they are both ready for the initial stages of the swing.

Where Giancarlo initiates the action of the swing with an obvious stride giancarlo-stanton1 Generated by  IJG JPEG Library Goldschmidt raises his front foot slightly from his starting position and immediately replaces it to the ground before the pitch is made during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.. With his front foot already in place, he needs only for the ball to come into his hitting zone where all he has to do is drive his back bent-knee and back hip forward, braced by the straightening front leg which assists in opening the front hip.  SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 13:  Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the San Francisco Giants during the game at AT&T Park on Saturday, June 13, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Paul Goldschmidt As the hips are turning by the application of force of the muscles of the groin, abdomen, and quads, the torso and shoulders have flattened the bat and together with the arms and hands are bringing it to the contact point with power and precision.

As the hips and back bent-knee drive forward, the front leg automatically straightens to keep the vertical  axis of the body erect and intact as well as assure that the power elicited from the back-side allows the bat-to-ball contact to be with full force.during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (See 9/13/13 article – Inertia: Power from the Back of the Bus.)

Paul Goldschmidt will be a notch above Miguel Cabrera in visual acuity as long as “Miggy” continues to stride (even minimally) and allows head and eye movement to occur. When the pitch is in route and the batter’s foot is in the air, the batter does not know exactly when and where to put the foot down. That little hesitation is a margin-of-error that Goldschmidt has almost (not completely) eliminated, because his foot is already down (at least partially). His only flaw is in the fact that his front foot is not yet planted firmly to the ground. Because the heel is up, his weight is not equally distributed. He sometimes begins the swing with the weight slightly on his back side, preventing the power surge of the back hip from being optimally quick and complete.  The other day on TV, I watch him hit a double into the left-field gap with just that kind swing. IF his foot had been planted completely, the same trajectory would have carried the ball over the fence.

Most good, precision hitters seem to instinctively know that if their hands are holding the bat on or over the bottom knob, the “instrument” for hitting will be slightly heavier during the swing than if a batter “choked-up”. The hitter who insists on holding the bat on the knob or over will find himself “just missing” pitches slightly away, and fouling them straight backBatting1, while the “smart-hitter” who “chokes-up”, at least slightly, will almost always have better “bat-control” and make better contact since the bat and  extended arms will not feel the added weight and go under the pitched ball. TedWilliamsShortSwing3Examples of “Hitters” who “choke-up” are:Ted Williams' grip Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Joe Morgan, Don Mattingly, Paul Goldschmidt, Hank Aaron, Tony Conigliaro. ted_williams_ bat routebarry_bonds_1992_piratesJoe Morgan 2don-mattingly 1during the MLB game at Chase Field on April 12, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.00934860.JPGTonyC1969 Those current hitters whose batting proficiency would improve if they’d reduced this particular “margin for error” are:

RodriguezAlex 1yasiel 2albert-pujols- 13Hanley Ramirez 7batting2 A-Rod, Puig, Pujols, Hanley, Mark Reynolds, and “This-Guy”- Coaching10

With everything that Paul Goldschmidt does correctly, he could be even better if he’d do the following: 1) Start here-during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. – to eliminate any superficial excessive movement. 2) Have his front foot planted at that same point, at an angle of 120 degrees-at which the swing would begin simply by driving the back bent-knee and hip forward. The front knee will straighten automatically to stop the forward momentum of the body, thus keeping the “vertical axis” intact. (Read article: “Inertia… 9/13/13)  3) He already does everything else perfectly.

Coming Soon: Part 4 – Bryce Harper

 

Part 2: Miguel Cabrera

The Best! That They can Be? 

What would it take for the following Batters to become even better Hitters than they have already presented themselves to Be?

Miguel Cabrera 2during the MLB game at Chase Field on June 5, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.Bryce Harper 20153mike-trout-batting-1giancarlo-stanton5

Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout are considered by most “experts” to be the “elite” hitters in Major League Baseball. They are all identified as “Super-Stars” who have the ability to change the course of a game if they are allowed to swing the bat in a crucial situation at a critical time in the contest. Since they are all “good” at their trade, they most likely wait patiently for the pitcher to make a mistake and then capitalize on it . That’s what a good hitter does! But the “Great” hitter is one whose mechanical advantage allows him to see and hit a pitcher’s best pitch, especially under those critical, game-saving circumstances.

Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay RaysMiguel Cabrera 5Miguel C. 4Miguel Cabrera 2

On any given day, it would appear to me that Miguel Cabrera is the most difficult batter for a pitcher to get out. His body is poised and steady. His powerful torso and shoulders are ready to apply the finishing touch to any kind of pitch that the mounds-man’s arsenal can supply. His knees have their slight bend and his arms and hands are fully equipped to navigate his bat with short and precise accuracy to the high-velocity projectile that would subjugate any lesser artisan of bats-man-ship.

Because all of his movements are short, and “to the point”, Miguel is uniquely qualified to make contact with a pitched ball even within the confines of Batting’s most denigrating “margin-of-error”- the “stride”. In a picture as this Miguel C. 4 it is easy to see why he is most proficient at hitting the ball to all fields. To get to that point of contact from

here Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay Rays he appears to lift his front foot while loading his upper body 

to take a short stride into the ball. The pitch was on the outside corner, so the fact that his hips are still the driving force that brings the torso, shoulders and bat to the contact point while the front foot has planted assures a powerful impact of optimal effect. If his hips and back bent-knee had been fully rotated as the ball reached that same spot at the plate, Miguel would either have missed it completely, as the bat would not have reached it, or the contact point would have had diminished power capacity.

In this pictureMiguel Cabrera 5, Miguel’s hips are completing their range of motion, and the torso, with shoulders , have brought the arms, hands and bat “inside” the path of an inside pitch in order to “pull” the ball. I’m assuming that the front foot is fastened to the ground, and the front-leg straightened at “contact, while a back bent-knee is moving forward with the back hip. We can also assume, because of the proper mechanics being applied, and the angle of the bat, and the trajectory of the ball, that the swing was optimally effective.

It is reasonable to assume that Miguel Cabrera could easily be considered a “great-hitter” because he has been known to hit the best of pitchers “best pitch” on many occasions. A few years ago, I was watching a Yankees/Tigers game on TV. In the 9th inning Mariano Rivera game in to “Close” with a one run lead. He was expected to face Miguel and two other batters to secure the victory, as was his unrelenting custom. It was known to all that Miguel was not at his best, suffering from a nagging injury. Rivera got two easy strikes but was unable to put Miguel away, as he kept fouling off pitch after pitch. Everyone watching felt it was just a matter of time before he makes an out, presumably striking out. Mariano threw “masterful” pitch after pitch, until finally Cabrera hit one those pin-point “cutters” over the center-field fence, much to the amazement of the commentators and all other on-lookers. Truly the mark of a “Great-Hitter”, at that moment of time.

I would like to consider Miguel as a “Great-Hitter”, but because of his inconsistency in applying “perfect-mechanics” I reluctantly consider him as a “great-hitter”. Of all the batters on my “list of 5”, Cabrera appears to have the best chance of becoming the “perfect – hitter”. My biggest hope in his advancement rests in the fact that he has in the past said the following: “When I get into slumps, I go to the batting cage and do Tee-work and Live batting while “not striding”. Then, in games, I try to follow that regimen, and my slump is gone.” My question to him would be, “then, why don’t you just practice that regimen all the time”?

“Most (if not all) batters relegate themselves to vulnerability to the greatest “margin-for-error” in the entire batting regimen.  What is the only way to assure oneself of readiness to swing his bat? The front foot must be planted! The only place where “timing” can be disrupted is in the stride. The batter never really knows when to put his foot down. Therefore, never pick up the front foot. Simply generate the needed momentum prior to swing by readying the hips to bring the shoulders, arms, and bat to the ball. By not striding, any batter will see the ball with utmost clarity, and allow for much better contact, no matter how strong he is.” But a player with the power and precision of a Miguel Cabrera would eliminate the greatest deterrent to batting proficiency if he would not stride.

The only times I ever see Miguel falter, even when he sometimes gets a “cheap” hit, is when his front foot isn’t planted early enough to twist his hips powerfully. But because he is so powerful in his shoulders, he is able to allow his arms and hands to bring the bat to the ball and send a mediocre soft line-drive to the opposite field while his weight is still on his back leg. When his front foot plants too early from his soft “leg-kick” stride, on any occasion, he still manages to rely on his shoulders to “flick” a ball over the infield or in the gap. If he never raised his front foot, his batting acumen would be close to flawless!

One thing to always remember when trying to appreciate the ultimate power of the swing is that, once the front foot is planted firmly all power is initiated by quick turning of the hips instigated by the driving back bent-knee, the leg of which never straightens. This principle is elaborated upon in an article entitled, “Inertia: Power from the Back of the Bus”, dated 9/13/13, on this website.

Coming Soon: Paul Goldschmidt