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Rise in MLB Batting Stats


Posted by: Jack Mankin (MrBatspeed@aol.com) on Sun Jan 13 10:26:52 2008


Hi All

I received an e-mail regarding an article I wrote on the rise in batting stats starting in the mid 1990s. In the article I stated that a good portion of the rise in offence, the number of home runs in particular, was due to the availability of VCRs with frame-by-frame capabilities. This allowed average MLB batters to study and emulate the swing mechanics of the most productive hitters.

I think the question the e-mail asks and my reply may be a good topic for discussion. I would be interested in your thoughts.

Jack Mankin
##

>>> Jack,

comments: In the section labeled "Increase in Batting Stats - Research"
you stated:

“ In 1993, I predicted (on videotape) that the number of homeruns would sharply rise and the 60 home run level would be challenged by a number of players.”

Based on the recent findings in Major League Baseball do you still feel that this artical is accurate if so why if not what would you say differently.
Thanks for your time <<<

Hi XXX

As you pointed out, I wrote that article in 1993. Since then, the availability of motion analysis software has reinforced that finding.

I assume by “recent findings in Major League Baseball,” you are referring to the use of steroids in baseball to enhance batting performance. I agree that when a greater force is applied to a mechanic, greater results can be achieved. However, the amount of gain depends on the efficiency of the batter’s mechanics to convert the added energy into bat speed. Little is achieved by adding greater force to an inefficient mechanic.

This is true whether the added force comes from a batter’s hard work in the weight-room or attained through steroids. A hitter with average mechanics will not become a great hitter however he attains great strength. Hitters, like Bonds, exhibited very efficient swing mechanics long before they started taking steroids. Steroid alone cannot account for their achievements.

On the other hand, there have been a number of average MLB hitters who become great hitters by acquiring more efficient mechanics. Let us use the rise of Terry Pendleton as just one example I found during my study. – For the six years Terry was with the Cardinals, he had the average mechanics I saw exhibited by hitters that produces his 260, 6 HR range of performance.

A year later, Terry showed up in Atlanta with a very different swing. He now exhibited mechanics that closely resembled the swing of Barry Bonds. With those mechanics, he hit in the 330, 30 HR range and was named MLB’s MVP. – My point is, even had he taken steroids, they could not have made him a super star had he retained his old mechanics.

Since 1993, I have witnessed a growing number of batters, like Terry, who for years put up average numbers and then suddenly jumped to the top of the charts. In almost every case, video analysis of their swings showed there was a substantial improvement in their swing mechanics.

As I stated in the article: “Hitters having the ability to study (frame-by-frame) the efficient mechanics of the games most productive hitters has allowed them to emulate those principles in their swings.”

Jack Mankin
##


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