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Swingology - Brett Jackson's adjustment and rotational hitting unwrapped
Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:39 AM
So first things first, let us dethrone this myth of hitting. Now as youngsters keeping the back elbow up accomplishes some very good things, and this theory holds true for super athletes all the way through minor league ball. First, it keeps the hands from dipping in the zone, helping hitters to swing on a level plane or “down at the ball”, in essence preventing pop-ups and fly ball swings. It is a technique designed to help promote line drive hitting, and for that it does work. Where the mistake comes in, enter Brett Jackson, are that it makes a swing very loopy and long, and forces a hitter to come around the ball. We will get to that more later, but as a premise just remember that keeping an elbow up keeps a hitter from dipping his hands in the zone, but also forces that hitter to come around the ball rather than directly to it.
Let us get to Brett Jackson then as it pertains to his swing change. As Jackson progressed through high school, college, and the minor leagues there was always this understanding that Brett could be an outstanding player with speed, arm, average, power and defense, a prospective five-tool player, but he always struck out so much. And in doing so held his offense back a lot, even though he drew walks and seemed to have a good batting eye. Well, quite simply put, he always hit from an elbow up, hands back approach, probably as he was taught as a youngster. What the Cubs’ did, as you hear Jackson reiterate, is change where Jackson’s hands are when he starts his swing. The side effect of this is his elbow being down and closed to his side as opposed to high and back as it used to be.
Let us take a side bar real quick to analyze the swings of a few big time hitters in baseball history. Beginning with Ted Williams, here is a video of Teddy Ballgame: , showing a few things, hands tight and elbow in at the start of his swing, as well as his hips leading his hands. Notice in his swing how he loads in his hips for power and his hands stay tight to his body as his elbow stays tight to his body. This rotational swing generates power from the hips and enhances the amount of power a hitter generates as well as elongates the time the bat stays in the zone.
The reason the elbow in and hands following hips swing keeps the bat in the zone longer, is because the hands really never leave the zone so for nearly the entirety of the swing, and the bat maintains a level plane and keeps itself in the hitting zone. The simplest way to understand this method of hitting is letting the ball meet the bat as opposed to bringing the bat to meet the ball. When a hitter tries to meet the ball with his bat, he has to adjust his bat speed, plane, and hands. As far as Brett Jackson, and many other phenomenal athletes, this works well for a long time until the pitchers are as good or better than the hitter. That is the majority of the problem Brett Jackson has encountered in his career. His ability has always allowed him to be just good enough to project well and move up with out too much concern. But as he advances his K numbers continued to increase and his production dipped. This happens because when going against guys with major league stuff he could no longer adjust the bat to meet the ball, resulting in that same good eye at the plate, but many issues and difficulties making contact. When he did make contact he was successful but that was minimal. This very simply why scouts across the board said nothing about his hit tool or his power or plate approach, but simply that if he can make more consistent contact when he swung he would stick.
Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:42 AM
Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:43 AM
Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:43 AM
On the flip side of that hitter is one who does a great job of keeping his back elbow tight and hands in as he swings, and in turn keeps his bat in the zone for a long time and makes consistent contact. Sometimes you get a guy who has such a refined swing in this way with great hips and hands action that he bypasses a severe lack of plate discipline or hitting eye. Enter Starlin Castro. As we have seen over the kid’s young career he keeps the bat in the zone a long time and makes consistent contact without drawing many walks or striking out much. This is something of an anomaly to many people, but an anomaly that comes with an easy explanation. Castro has a phenomenal swing, and very little plate discipline or batting eye. He often swings at pitchers pitches or pitches out of the zone instead of waiting for his pitch and still has managed to never hit below .280 and compile 200 hits in his sophomore campaign. This is all due to the swing and the action of the hips rotating with the hands following and staying inside the ball, with the elbow in, and keeping the bat in the hitting zone for what seems like eons! Now if you give Castro the patience and batting eye of Brett Jackson you are going to end up with a miniature Albert Pujols, great eye, great swing, hall-of-fame results. Don’t rush to judgment, I am not saying Castro will ever put up 40-50 home runs a year, but he could put up 25 consistently if he refines his plate discipline and gets a little more choosey with his swings. So as the young Starlin shows us, its easy to overcome a bad plate discipline or eye at the plate with great swing mechanics, Vlad Guerrero made a career out of it, and pissed pitchers off along the way, but the opposite can’t be said of a guy with a good eye and bad swing mechanics, namely a high elbow and hands starting away from the body and back behind the back shoulder.
Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:44 AM
Finally, look for Jackson to pick this approach up and be a doubles machine with plenty of power and surprising many critics along the way when/if these changes take effect. But for all you everyday fans like myself, take a minute to look at these changes, and what they can do to the contact rate for the players. And father’s if you want your young fella to have a shot at the Bigs, remember elbow down and hands tight to the body. Hitting is a fickle thing and the slightest adjustment makes monumental differences in the results, so lets all cross our fingers and hold our breath, and see if Brett can adapt and turn into a solid big league player with quick swing that stays in the zone longer and drives the ball to all fields!! Thanks for reading. Let’s go Cubbies!!
Posted 12 April 2013 - 06:53 AM
Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:59 AM
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