ChrisOLeary.com > BUY > Hitting > Swing Length
In 2016 and 2017, I worked with the hitters at Harris-Stowe State University, a small Historically Black College in St. Louis.
At the facility where we did our off-season workouts, we had access to a HitTrax system.
And we never used it.
Because hitting is a Drag Race.
And, in a Drag Race, Acceleration is paramount. And HitTrax doesn't measure acceleration.
Despite — or, I'd argue, BECAUSE of — my lack of faith in HitTrax, HSSU was one of the top offenses in all of NAIA, especially in 2017.
That wasn't a coincidence.
Because of a concept called Swing Length that is critically important when it comes to the highest levels of baseball and fast-pitch softball, but is very rarely discussed.
Much as, "Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics," newbie hitting coaches talk Bat Speed/Exit Velocity but veterans talk Swing Length.
For more information, also see...
Swing Length: An Overview
He has a Long Swing.
You hear that all the time.
But what does it mean?
Too many (actual) definitions of "Swing Length" and "Long Swing" are circular.
How do you know a hitter has a long swing?
Because he can't hit the fastball.
And why can't he hit the fastball?
Because he has a long swing.
In contrast my definition of Swing Length, when it comes to baseball and fast pitch hitters, involves measuring the TIME it takes the hitter to get to the Point Of Contact after the Launch of their swing.
I measure TIME, and not just (EXIT) VELOCITY, because ACCELERATION is critical to hitting at the highest levels of baseball and fast pitch softball.
I was widely ridiculed for saying the Ronald Acuna had an "objectively long swing." And then accused of waffling when he started hitting.
However, and as I explain in my analysis of Ronald Acuna's swing, my views of Acuna were based on his Swing Length, and his Swing Length changed around the time of the 2018 All-Star Game.
When a hitter's swing changes — and, especially, when their Swing Length changes — so does my opinion of their swing.
One common definition of Swing Length and a Short Swing is one that includes the concept of being Direct to the Ball, as you see in the widely-taught A to C Swing.
Albert Pujols Swing
But is Albert Pujols direct to the ball?
The problem with HitTrax, the reason I never used it when working with the hitters at HSSU, and the reason they benefitted from that decision has to do with what HitTrax focuses on and measures.
While Exit Velocity is certainly important, focusing on it, and ignoring Swing Length, will almost certainly lead to the development of a (truly) long swing.
That's because one way to increase a hitter's Exit Velocity is by lengthening their swing.
I saw this first-hand with Tommy Pham when he went to a different instructor — Jon Peabody of Peabody Baseball — between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. While Pham's new swing likely looked very good in the batting cage, and yielded Cage Bombs galore, it simply didn't work in games.
Tommy Pham's early 2017 swing was so (truly) long that he had to start swinging earlier and, as a result, he didn't have enugh time to read the pitch and lay off off-speed pitches.
One of the chief reasons why hitters have a long swing is because of a flaw known as...
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