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