The One True Swing
The other day I got an interesting and important question
Why would McGwire teach a power, Home run swing to
Brendan Ryan? Or anybody really? McGwire was a rare hitter and took a
different approach at the plate then I’d want most Cardinals to
take. I don’t want him teaching any one swing. Different strokes
for different folks. Ryan needs to be taking a different
approach then say, Colby. And Colby needs to be taking a
different approach then say, Holliday.
While this sounds good at first blush, the fact is that there one mechanically correct high level swing.
That swing is dictated by both the laws of physics and the
realities of the game; this like the need to hit both a 95mph fastball and off-speed
pitching. It doesn’t matter if you look at Mark McGwire, David Eckstein,
Albert Pujols, or
Andres Torres; you will see the same basic swing and hitting
Mark McGwire's Swing
David Eckstein's Swing
Albert Pujols' Swing
Andres Torres' Swing
Points in common include the slight to significant uppercut
with the barrel falling below the hands (not a
the Power L in the back arm at the
POC (not Extension),
and how the rotation of the hips pulls the hitter up onto the
point of their back toe at the Point Of Contact (not
Squishing the Bug).
Is There Such a Thing as
a Home Run Swing?
In order to hit a 95MPH fastball, and not be vulnerable to
quality off-speed pitching, your swing has to be 9 to 10 frames
from start to finish (at 60FPS).
As Pedro Feliz demonstrates, the longer your swing is
the more frames from the start of the swing to the point of
contact -- the sooner you have to start your swing, the less time
you have to read the pitch, and the more vulnerable you are to
As a result,
swinging easy isn’t a viable option; every major
league swing is a hard, quick swing.
The biggest difference between a power swing and a singles swing
comes down to one less frame (thus 5 to 10 percent higher
batspeed), the swing plane and whether you are trying to hit
line drives or pound the ball into the ground, the proportion of
fast twitch muscle, and the size of the bat. Power hitters tend to be
bigger guys because bigger guys can execute The Swing while swinging a
bigger bat. That makes the ball go farther because, due to
F=MA, the greater the Mass, the greater the Force. Andres Torres can hit the ball harder than
David Eckstein because he
swings a bigger bat, swings a bit harder (greater batspeed, and
likely has a greater proportion of fast twitch muscle.
Style vs. Substance
One thing that is confusing, and that tends to distract
people from the commonalities of the swing, is that you see all
kinds of stuff when it comes to stances and ways of holding the
Who could forget Craig Counsell's
However, when it really
matters -- between the moment that the front heel plants and the
point of contact -- good swings are remarkably consistent.
That's the point of the pictures above; to show how similar
those different hitters' swings are at the point of contact.
People tend to confuse style and substance because it's much
easier to see style with the naked eye. The substance happens
too fast for people to be able to see it well. However, that is
changing some with the advent of high speed video cameras.