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Posted by: Jack Mankin (MrBatspeed@aol.com) on Sat Jan 1 21:56:42 2005

>>> Looking at swing clips of Bonds, Griffey, etc., I notice that they "wrap" the bat (behind their head - pointed toward the pitcher) in a way that is, I think, discouraged by many hitting instructors. I am not sure if this is another "liner vs. rotational" difference, but I do think it is another illustration that elite hitters often do things that average hitters cannot (or should not) do. <<<

Hi Kevin

Hitters hold the bat in various positions in the box. Where a batter has the bat-head is his stance is not a problem. The key point is – what was the bat’s position when shoulder rotation was initiated? The batter will have a problem if the bat is still “wrapped” too far behind his head or out of the swing plane at initiation.

Many think that great hitters are such good athletes they can defy good batting principles and still perform. I have found this to be a misconception. In fact, just the opposite is true. Once the best hitters arrive at the launch position, they all exhibit basically the same mechanics.

Kevin to explain the point I made above in more detail, I am including part of a post on “Style vs Absolute.” These absolutes are found in the swings of all great hitters.

Jack Mankin

Style vs Absolute

Posted by: Jack Mankin (MrBatspeed@aol.com on Thu Feb 13 16:04:42 2003

Mikeyd, you stated, -- “I know from watching videos and looking at pictures, Jack, that there is more than one "right" way to swing the bat - and your style is not a cure all and has some definite limitations too.” -- I agree with you that good hitters exhibit many different styles in how they prepare for the swing. As a hitter takes his stance in the box, some will (as you pointed out) have their hands away from their body – some close to the shoulder. Some will have their hands high like A-Rod – some low like Bonds. Some good hitters will stand tall while others like to squat. Some will take longer strides – some soft or no-stride. These are all matters of a batters individual style and my work has not taken a position on whether or not one style has an advantage over another.

However, once the batter has completed his preparation for the swing and brought the bat to the launch position (is now in the plane of the swing), the “style” time is over. And once the swing is fully initiated, the swing mechanics exhibited by the best hitters are all basically the same (viewed frame-by-frame). The bat speed developed by all swings will be governed by the same mechanical principles. Defining those mechanical principles common to all great hitter’s swings was what my study concentrated on. --- The purpose of all batting mechanics is to apply forces to the bat that will gain maximum acceleration of the bat-head into a predictable arc around toward contact. – Note: Since the purpose of batting mechanics is to accelerate the bat-head, the terms I defined, CHP, BHT and THT are to identify forces acting on the bat.

Other than gravity, the two (and only two) forces acting on the bat that cause the bat-head to accelerate into its arc is ‘torque’ (push/pull action supplied through the hands) and transfer of the body’s rotational energy via a ‘circular hand-path’ (CHP). The batter does not have a choice of whether or not to use these forces. The bat speed attained, regardless of who he or she is, baseball or softball, light or heavy bat, will be governed by the quality of the CHP and how much torque energy was supplied to the bat during the swing by the batter’s transfer mechanics.

Regardless of the length of the batter’s stride (style), all good hitters will rotate around a stationary axis to generate a quality CHP. -- Regardless of where a great hitter has his hands in his stance (style), his hands will be at the back-shoulder at initiation. I call this “hiding the hands from the pitcher”. -- In order to generate a quality CHP, he will keep the hands back and allow rotation to propel their first movement perpendicular to (not parallel with) the flight of the incoming ball. – All great hitters will have their elbow at their side as they rotate. – All great hitters will have the lead shoulder pulling back toward the catcher at contact (hook in the hand-path). – Those are not style. Those are absolutes for maximizing bat speed and generating a predicable swing plane .


>> As I pointed out in the "Thu Feb 13 16:04:42 2003" post, good hitters (those that can hit for both average and power) may have different styles in how they setup their swings. But once they come to the launch position and initiate the swing, I found that there are mechanical principles common to the swings of all good hitters. Adhering to those batting principles did correlate to a better batting performance, and therefore, I refer to them as "Absolutes."

The following is a list I have found to be "Absolutes" to a good swing and higher batting performance. All good hitters: (1) Hide their hands at the back-shoulder as rotation begins. (2) Shoulder rotation initiates the acceleration of the hands into a circular path. (3) The bat will be in the plane of the lead-arm as the shoulders start to rotate. (4) If the lead-arm straightens, it occurs early in the swing. (5) The bat-head will first accelerate in an arc back toward the catcher. (6) The back-elbow will lower and rotate at the batter's side (in the "slot"). (7) The swing plane will remain smooth (no dips or rising above the plane of the lead-arm. (8) Other than outside pitches, the lead-shoulder will be pulling back toward the catcher at a 105 degree position with lead-leg extended at contact. (9) In the contact zone, the plane of the swing will be on a 10 to 15 degree up-slope to closely match the descending path of the incoming ball. Last, and probably the most important, if the batter's swing mechanics are efficient: (10) The bat will come to contact as the shoulders complete rotation. *NOTE: The farther away from contact the bat is as the shoulders stop rotating, the weaker the swing.

A hitter may exhibit a flaw in the Absolutes and still hit the ball hard. But usually not consistently enough to stay high in the charts. When a good hitter goes into in a prolonged slump, I seriously doubt it occurred due to a change in his athletic abilities; rather I almost invariably find he has developed flaws in one or more of the ten Absolutes. More often in Numbers 3, 7 and 10.

Many of the Absolutes are better viewed from a frontal shot of the batter while others show up better from across the plate. <<

Jack Mankin


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