Re: outside pitches
>>> I just can't seem to hit em. How do get the outside pitch without losing any bat speed and where do you hit it in comparison with the position of your body? <<<
Below is a post I made some time ago on the mechanics of hitting the outside pitch. A couple of years back only a few hitters like Big Mac used those mechanics for hitting balls on the outer portion of the plate. Most of the better hitters rotated with the lead arm staying close to the chest and applying bottom-hand-torque to bring the bat to contact. But lately, I have noted a growing number of hitters who start with higher hands (like A-Rod) and pull the top-hand back in a wider arc (11 o'clock) as mentioned below. They are using this mechanic for hitting a wider range of pitch locations. Therefore I see more hitters who have their lead arm casting away from the body much earlier in the swing. --- The video explains this better than I can write.
The bat speed of a great hitter requires both torque and the transfer of the body's rotational energy via the circular-hand-path. Torque supplies about 50% of the bat speed and comes from a combination of top-hand-torque to start the swing and bottom-hand-torque to bring the bat to contact. Most average hitters have only a fair CHP and also lack both THT and BHT.
I think one of the main reason the better rotational transfer hitters (torque plus a CHP) are leading the performance stats is because they do not need to change their basic swing mechanics due to pitch placement. They are able to use the same mechanics regardless of where the pitcher throws to them and still hit the ball hard. The only adjustment they need to make is a slight change in how they initiate the swing. Once that change is made - their mechanics for the balance of the swing is on autopilot regardless of where the pitch is.
The change in the batter's initiation that programs the swing is controlled mainly by the direction of pull of the top hand. In other words, the direction of pull of the top forearm and hand at initiation sets up trajectories (of the bat, limbs and body) that control the balance of the swing.
As an example - say the pitchers mound is at 6 o'clock and the plate is at 12 o'clock - On an inside pitch the direction of pull of the top hand is in tight, say at 1 o'clock, the back elbow will come almost straight down to the batters side before little rotation of the shoulders can occur. The pulling back of the back-hand keeps the lead-arm across the chest and generates a tight hand-path and thus a low-load resistance to shoulder rotation. The back elbow coming fairly straight down with little body rotation means less top-hand-torque was developed and the batters finishes the swing with a lot lead shoulder pull and bottom-hand-torque.
On a pitch more in the middle 2/3's of the plate, the pull of the top hand is more straight-away - or at 12 o'clock. With a more straight-away pull, the shoulders rotate a few degrees as the back elbow lowers to the batter's side allowing a greater amount of top-hand-torque to be applied. This direction of pull also causes the lead arm to cast slightly away from the chest and generates a somewhat wider hand-path. A wider hand-path generates greater bat speed and a higher load resistance to rotation. Less shoulder rotation means less bottom-hand-torque. So on the pitch in the mid-part of the plate, what we wind up with is greater bat speed from a wider hand-path and more balance between bottom and top-hand-torque being applied.
On recognizing an outside pitch, the batters pull of the top hand is more away from center - or at 11 o'clock. This direction of pull causes the back elbow to sweep some distance before full body rotation begins and the elbow lowers. This allows top-hand-torque to be applied over a much greater portion of the swing. This direction of pull also causes the lead arm to cast out farther and develops a wide hand-path and thus a heavy resistant load to rotation. The greater load limits shoulder rotation which equates to less bottom-hand-torque being applied. So, on the outside pitch the swing produces a wide hand-path with a lot of top-hand-torque and little bottom-hand-torque. - With less shoulder rotation on outside pitches, the lead leg may not be fully extended while the back-arm becomes more extended.
>> The front knee seemed to bent on that swing, and a tape my mother made of the home run McGwire hit--which I saw personally at Shea--showed McGwire making contact with a firm, but bent front leg rotating in a circular pattern (my mother taped it while I was away).
> Any thoughts on this Jack? Now that I have given example how a person can hit the ball a long way with a firm, bent, rotating front leg at impact, are you still going to argue that the front leg must be locked at contact? <<<
Good observation and Question --- I do not think of the front leg as being "locked" at contact. I think it would be more accurate to think of the leg as being fully rotated and extended. A fully extended lead leg indicates a full rotation of the hips and shoulders were required for the swing. This is usually true for pitches from the-middle-in where a tight hand-path is needed to get the meat of the bat on the ball and much of the bat speed is generated from bottom hand torque. To apply maximum bottom hand torque, the lead shoulder needs to be pulling back toward the catcher at contact. This requires the full rotation and extension of the front leg. In this case the hips rotate about 90 degrees and the shoulders about 120 degrees.
On outside pitches the hands must take a wider path to get the meat of the bat on the ball. This means the lead shoulder can not rotate as far. On pitches on the outside part of the plate, the shoulders rotate about 70 or 90 degrees and the hips around 60 degrees or so. Therefore, full extension of the lead leg would not be required to rotate the hips to that point."
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