Here’s a nice video clip of Justin Upton’s swing from the 2011 postseason. He crushes a 3-1 fastball to deep left field and the clip shows a couple replays from the center field and side views for a good look at his hitting mechanics (and bat flipping style!):
One of the things I like about Upton’s swing is that he generates tons of power but doesn’t have a lot of “noise”. Specifically, he doesn’t get far away from a good swing plane. Here is an illustration of what I mean, just before Upton unloads his swing:
Justin Upton swing plane
Lots of bat speed + consistent swing path = power AND consistency!
This is a nice little video from Golf Channel’s Playing Lessons with the Pros where 3-time major golf champion, Padraig Harrington, talks about creating power in his swing. Obviously, the baseball and golf swings are different, but basic principles of movement apply to both – things like stability (on the back leg), rotation, connection (although I typically think or talk about it in the forward swing for baseball rather than the back swing) and the kinetic link.
Robbie Grossman is a minor league prospect of the Pittsburgh Pirates that made history this season by becoming the first minor leaguer to walk 100 times and score 100 runs in the same season since 2004. How’d he do it? By using a “professional approach”….something not so common for a young 21-year old.
Check out this video where Grossman himself describes his thoughts on his hitting approach:
Click for video
This past post on plate discipline gives some different insights on developing command of the strike zone, and Grossman says something similar:
When I’ve got a pitch to hit, I’ve been swinging. But if not, I’ve been taking it.
Sounds simple, right? Well, yes, the concept can be very simple, but execution is the key. Especially as you advance each level and the decision making process gets tougher and tougher – or, in other words, the pitchers get better. Hitters who control the strike zone and have an actual plan at the plate really do stand out – they know how to take an at-bat.
While you’re working on perfecting your swing, don’t forget about the strike zone and pitch recognition. In today’s game, plate discipline is becoming valued more and more. Work on it by putting yourself into different counts while taking batting practice and distinguish between looking for pitches to drive early in the count versus putting the ball in play with 2-strikes. Find different ways like this to shift your focus from swing mechanics to the seeing the ball, it’s release point, and where you’re making contact in the strike zone.
Here are a couple of links that explain how Jose Bautista changed seemingly overnight from a baseball journeyman (5 teams in one year!) to today’s best hitter.
In this video, Bautista talks about how he changed his hitting mechanics, and his explanation is fairly simple. He started his swing earlier so he wasn’t late so often.
For a more complete picture, check out this article about Jose Baustista’s transformation. One of the things I found most interesting was the insight into Baustista’s mindset:
In his free time, Bautista reads books on exceptionality. “I’m trying to understand why mediocre people become good at what they do,” he says, “and why good people become the best.” So he mixes other players’ post-career musings on success with real mental protein.