On March 10th, something big happened in a Spring Training game against the Cleveland Indians. Well, three big-somethings to be exact: Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.
In response to the awesomeness of this event, Carson Cistulli connected with Dan Farnsworth, a swing instructor, to dissect and evaluate each of the home run swings. Using a combination of GIFs, from a variety of angles and speeds, Cistulli and Farnsworth discuss the many strengths and weaknesses of each swing. Brett mentioned the article briefly in yesterday’s Prospect Notes, but there was so much good, interesting information in the recordings that I wanted to share and expand on some of the highlights.
Going one by one – through Soler, Baez and Bryant – I’ll reiterate an interesting nugget or two that Farnsworth identifies and offer some analysis along with it. If you have the chance, though, I strongly recommend giving the three short (~10 min) recordings a listen.
Farnsworth opens the discussion by explaining how he begins to dissect any given swing – noting that he looks at the swing as a whole and identifies what is unfamiliar about it.
For Soler, Farnsworth immediately noticed his shoulders. Apparently, Soler’s swing (in this particular at bat, at least) is very shoulder heavy – meaning that they drive his body around. By the end of the swing, his shoulders and abdomen finish almost completely facing the third base dugout. According to Farnsworth, this can be a desirable approach if you have good timing, but can lead to some troubles when adjusting for different speeds and locations. As Soler continues to face higher quality pitching in the majors, a reduction in his shoulder rotation might indicate an adjustment to generate more consistent, hard contact.
The first aspect of Baez’s swing explored is a topic we’ve heard a lot about in recent weeks: his leg kick. Surprisingly, though, Farnsworth isn’t as concerned with it as we may expect. For the most part, Farnsworth says big leg kicks are an issue only for players that let it affect their posture. If your belt ends up pointing up in the air, due to your leg kick, then it can be worrisome. Throughout the GIFs, though, we can tell that Baez’s waistline remains relatively level. Though this may be encouraging, Farnsworth identifies plenty more concerning elements to Baez’s swing – notably how the noisiness results in a disjointed top and bottom half. (If you’re going to listen to just one of these discussions, make it the Baez discussion.)
Last up is Kris Bryant, who checks in with some high praise for his simple swing. Relative to the average player, Farnsworth explains, Bryant’s swing is very short and compact. Farnsworth cautions that this isn’t always a positive (in isolation), but that it works very well for Bryant. Unlike Baez, Bryant has a short, explosive path to the ball, allowing him to wait back on a pitch longer without losing any power. This is important, because it can reduce the amount of guessing Bryant has to do with each pitch. The most encouraging part, to me, was the directional attributes of Bryant’s swing. According to Farnsworth, Bryant’s path isn’t dedicated to generating power. Instead, it is directed at sending balls right back up the middle. This should help Bryant to hit for a higher average, and limit the holes in his swing – which have been among the (few) areas of concern for Bryant.
There is a great deal of other good stuff in the discussion between Cistulli and Farnsworth – including a comp between Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto and our boy, Kris Bryant – so make sure you give it a listen. Because I am #NotAScout, I found this entire conversation very enlightening. Ultimately, our goal as baseball fans (well, nerdy fans like us, anyway) is to become as well-informed as possible. So, if you don’t have any experience analyzing swings, as I didn’t, this is a perfect introduction into that world. Plus, you get to relive those awesome back-to-back-to-back home runs.