>>> While I agree that the hands do not move straight to the ball independent of the rest of the body. I do agree that there is not a straight push or pull forward and snap at the end.
IMO the hands are not cast into a CHP. The hands take a direct path to get the barrel in the contact zone. The hands stay in the rear armpit and are moved as the rear shoulder comes down and moves forward. Once the hands are moving forward they are realeased to the ball. The top hand is in charge and is working around the bottom hand continuing to take the barrel to the ball.
The bat is working around the hands and not the shoulders. IMO, MLB hitters are actually fighting the CHP and trying to take there hands directly to the ball. Yes the hand path will be rounded off because of the action of the body, but they are not trying to make it circular.
The hands move down and forward in a tight arc with the rear shoulder and then they are directed to the ball. IMO this may degrade some bat speed as compared to a completely CHP but what is gained is swing quickness.
MLB hitters have to have a balance of both, Swing quickness and bat speed. They are willing to trade some bat speed for the ability to have a quick, compact swing that will give them the greatest ability to square bat to ball and greatest amount of adjustability.
Here is a clip of Manny.
I have studied the hand-path of over 120 MLB hitters from a direct overhead view. I can assure you that an overhead view of Manny's swing would exhibit the same hand-path as the in the clips below. I will let the readers decide for themselves if the hands take the "direct path" you claim.
Overhead - CHP & Plate Coverage
Keys to CHP