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Albert Pujols SwingAlbert Pujols is one of the greatest hitters to have ever played the game. Or, at least, he was. Why was he so great? And why did he decline so quickly after leaving the Cardinals? We can learn a lot about hitting, and the High-Level Swing, by digging into those questions.

I say that not merely academically, but based on my experience with Andres Torres.

I know about training, but hitting was difficult. And then in ’08... There’s a guy called Chris O’Leary (a St. Louis fan who kept online flipbooks breaking down Pujols’ swing). He’s online. He talks about Rotation. He's got video examples of Pujols, and I watched those.
- Andres Torres 2012

With my help, and leveraging my intensive study of Albert Pujols swing, was able to rebuild his approach and swing and helped the Giants win the 2010 World Series.

After the 2007 season, Torres remained stuck in AAA, and he knew something had to change. With the help of Chris O'Leary, a private hitting coach, he began looking at all the video he could find on hitters he admired, starting with Albert Pujols. He saw the way they generated power by rotating through the pitch.
- A Band of Misfits

Over the years, I have produced a number of flipbooks and other analyses of Albert Pujols' swing and, as I come out with new ones, I tend to make the old ones available for FREE.

Albert Pujols Swing Analysis

Let me explain what a good swing actually looks like using a clip of Albert Pujols hitting a home run to left center field.

Before I do, let me give you some context.

The pitch was an 85 MPH fastball, right down the middle, thrown by Livan Hernandez in the fifth inning on April 23, 2009. The prior two pitches were 78 and 79 MPH sliders just outside.

Albert Pujols Home Run Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
Home Run Swing

The ball landed about rows up in the Left Field bleachers, just a few seats in from the aisle and the grassy knoll in Center Field.

Short

The first thing to notice about Albert Pujols' swing is how short it is.

Because he is so short to the ball, Albert Pujols has more time than the average player to read the pitch. That gives Pujols more distance and time to get a sense of what the pitch is and what it's going to do.

That increases the likelihood that he will be able to hit the ball squarely and, as I will discuss in a moment, that is the key to Albert Pujols' ability to hit for both average and power.

Albert Pujols Home Run Swing

Albert Pujols
Home Run Swing

Of course, given the Hitch in his swing, Albert Pujols' swing is a perfect illustration of how a short swing is short from the standpoint of TIME, but not necessarily DISTANCE.

Stride

While it is true that Albert Pujols doesn't stride as much as many players do — his STRIDE is actually more of a STEP — if you watch what his front foot does, you will see that he does or, as I discuss in my piece on Albert Pujols' stride, at least did, take a stride of nine inches or so.

Albert Pujols Swing

Albert Pujols
Home Run Swing

More importantly, if you watch the movement of his back hip, you will see that Albert Pujols still achieves a sufficient weight shift and Rotation. Without his short but powerful weight shift, Albert Pujols wouldn't be able to hit the ball as hard as he does.

Hips First

Albert Pujols' swing is consistent with Ted Williams' principle that the hips lead the hands. Notice in Frame 8 that Albert Pujols' hips start to open up while his hands stay up and back.

Albert Pujols' Swing

Albert Pujols
Frame 8

Once Pujols' hips have opened for a frame or two, his hands then start to come around.

Uppercut

One thing that you will hear constantly at any youth baseball field is parents and coaches telling kids to, "Swing level."

Albert Pujols' Swing

Albert Pujols
Frame 10

However, if you look at Frame 10 of the clip above, you will see that Albert Pujols doesn't swing level to the ground.

No Bugs Were Squashed

You can also see in Frame 10 above that, rather than squishing the bug, Albert Pujols' back toe is completely off the ground at the POC. His back toe gets pulled off the ground by the extension of his front knee and the resulting rapid rotation of his hips.

Albert Pujols' Swing

Albert Pujols
Frame 15

Pujols does eventually get to a position that looks like squishing the bug, but he reaches that position in Frame 15, which is well after the POC.

Extension: When, Why, Why Not

Many baseball announcers and commentators are absolutely fixated on the concept of extension at the Point Of Contact (POC), but if you look at the clip below you will see that Albert Pujols doesn't reach full extension until Frame 13, which is well after the POC.

Albert Pujols swing

Albert Pujols
Frame 13

At the POC, Albert Pujols' back elbow is in a position that is different than the Power V position that many of Charley Lau Sr.'s devotees preach and that I was taught when I was learning to hit.[1]

Albert Pujols' Swing

Albert Pujols
Frame 11

Pujols' bat and hands are then pulled out into extension by the tremendous centrifugal force that he generates during his swing.

Albert Pujols and Steroids

What I see in Albert Pujols swing is a mechanically perfect swing.

Albert Pujols Swing and Hitting Mechanics

Albert Pujols

And a swing that is highly repeatable.

Albert Pujols Home Run Swing

Albert Pujols

Even in his "bad" swings, meaning swings that result in outs, he often misses the ball by as little as 1/8 of an inch.[2]

Albert Pujols' Swing

Albert Pujols

As a result, I absolutely believe Albert Pujols when he says he doesn't use any illegal, performance-enhancing substances. I think the best explanation for Albert Pujols' numbers is once-in-a-generation talent, rather than steroids.

Why Albert Pujols Isn't Himself
in Home Run Derbies

Based on a conversation with a professional client, and his comments about the value of this section with respect to Level of Effort, I have decided to move this section to my client site. To view the contents of this piece, you need to become a client.

About the Author

My highest-level client is Andres Torres of the San Francisco Giants. Using the concepts that I discuss on my Rotational Hitting 101 DVD and on my client-only web site, we worked together to revamp his swing and get him to the point where he could be successful at the major league level.

Andres isn't the only professional baseball player that I have worked with. At last count, I have two other clients in the major leagues, three clients at AAA, one client at AA, several more clients in the lower levels of the affiliated minor leagues, and three clients playing for independent minor league teams and trying to get back on the road to the major leagues. I have also worked with a number of D-1 college baseball and fast pitch softball players.

I don't give out the names of these players because I don't want to get them in trouble with their coaches. While they, and I, believe in what I teach, most of the time it contradicts what their coaches are saying, so they have to keep it to themselves and we have to work on the down low.

If you are a minor leaguer and are looking for help, e-mail me and we can talk about how you can get access to my client-only web site.

Notes

[1] If you read Charley Lau Sr.'s book "The Art of Hitting .300" or view the related video, he never once talks about the concept of extension or making the Power V at the Point Of Contact. However, the book is full of pictures of George Brett doing just that...

George Brett Demonstrating the Power V at the Point Of Contact

George Brett Demonstrating the Power V at the POC

...so it's not surprising that that is generally how the book is interpreted. Of course, if you go through George Brett's best swings frame by frame, you will see that they look nothing like the swing he demonstrates in Charley Lau Sr.'s book.

[2] The frame below is of a fly out to the right field warning track (third pitch of first at bat on 7/31/2009). Albert Pujols is in a mechanically perfect position in this frame. The result of the swing was only an out, rather than a home run to right field, because Albert chased a high pitch and got under the ball by maybe 1/8 of an inch (note the position of the ball on the bat). To the credit of the pitcher (Brian Moehler), he went up the ladder on Albert and got him to chase a pitch just out of the top of the strike zone.

But talk about dodging a bullet.

Albert Pujols Not Squishing The Bug

Albert Pujols Not Squishing The Bug

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