This piece documents what we worked on between 2010 and 2014.
When I look at his swing, I see a stance that is right on the edge of creating similar problems to those that Allen Craig experienced.
Very wide stance and then a stride on top of it. Going to be VERY difficult to keep from locking up the hips, which will create a problem with warning track power (and probably average).
Needs to narrow up his stance and/or shorten his stride so he can...
- Keep his back foot flat on the ground during his stride and the start of his swing.
- Fully and powerfully rotate his hips.
Also needs to open up his front foot, again to ensure full hip rotation and ensure he doesn't run into a problem with warning rack power.
HIM: "Chris this is your old friend Tommy Pham. I have a question regarding head movement. Have you discovered any drills to improve it? I'm just looking for ways to improve and get better thanks, Tommy"
ME: "I looked at some of my clips from late May. I really don't see a problem with head movement. Your head is pretty stable.Just make sure that you are tracking the ball with your eyes and not your head and don't worry about trying to see the ball hit the bat (it's impossible). If you are wondering about your ability to make consistent contact, I do see a couple of things that could explain some stuff.
P.S. If you know him, I'd love to know if Xavier Scruggs is trying to throw his hands at the ball. If he is, them IMO he won't hit at the major league level because he doesn't have enough adjustability to hit in the big leagues. If you are trying to throw your hands at the ball, then that could be some of what I'm seeing."
Don't want to overwhelm you, so here are the two things I'd work on.
1. Sway. As I said, you're swaying back toward the catcher too much. Pujols, Holliday, Ortiz, and such just un-weight their front feet without swaying back very much.
2. Shift and Load. Look at the page on my client site...
You don't load your shoulders or hands at all, and I think you could improve your hip/shoulder separation and hip rotation if you did something to hold your shoulders back just a bit as your hips open up underneath them. Also see these pages and look at what Beltran does.
This is a pretty subtle move, but it can still be very effective and make you less top-down.
ME: "First, you have a problem with sway...
If you study Pujols, Holliday, Ortiz, and others, what they will do is un-weight their front feet but they do that without swaying back toward the catcher much. They just pick up their front foot and then set it back down closer to the pitcher. This isn't that big of a deal, but could set you up for a problem with lunging (which is a big deal).
The bigger issue is that you are cutting your hip rotation short. Compare your hip rotation to Pujols' hip rotation. Your back hip rotates maybe 60 degrees whereas Pujols' back hip rotates 90 degrees. That is hurting your power.
The problem that I have with cues like swinging down on the ball is that sometimes it can make a swing too top down and lead to poor hip rotation like I see in your clip."
ME: "Hands look good. Stride looks good. Point of contact looks good.
The biggest issue is that your hip rotation is still weak. It could be that your swing is too top down, maybe because of the swing down stuff, but I'm not sure.
The upside is that you're hitting well despite leaving a lot of power on the table.
If we can improve your hip rotation, I could see you tearing it up in the bigs.
Here's something to try. Right now, when you land with your front foot you land with it almost sideways. See if you can land with your front foot more open and pointing more down the first base line or at the first base coach's box. That might help you hips turn better."
Poor hip rotation may be due to top down swing and swinging down at the ball. Lack of separation due to lack of shift and load. Remnants of taking the knob/throwing the hands of the ball.
Problem with borderline lunging may be related to sway. Less lunging now than in the past.
When The Move fires, most of the energy gets bled off.
Needs to keep his back foot flat on the ground longer like Matt Holliday does so that The Move can turn his hips more powerfully.
May need to stay more erect to keep his Back Foot flat on the ground. May need to narrow his stance. May need to go to a no-stride swing to keep from sliding forward. Loading his shoulders may help him stay back.
ME: "There's a fair bit of Sway in this swing, and I think Sway is a big part of your problem. The Sway leads to lunging which leads to rolling on the inside of your ankle which leads to the loss of power. Look at my page on Sway on my client site.
I would suggest playing around with a short(er)-stride swing like Pujols'. Just spread out in your stance and then pick up your front foot and put it right back down. Like Pujols, try not to sway back at all and then try not to stride forward more than a couple of inches.
Like we discussed, you've got to keep your back foot flat on the ground longer so The Move has more time to turn your hips powerfully."
Sway is the result of the Lau (overly) linear lower body, hit over your front leg stuff. People say sway is loading. It's not.
Met and talked in the parking lot after the game.
Spent some time talking about Albert Pujols' upper body and Loading the Hands. However, focus was on his back foot; keeping it flat on the ground as long as possible. If he doesn't fix that, then nothing else matters.
Talked about Matt Holliday's back foot and the back foot in general.
What's interesting is, a year later, he said he didn't remember the comments, but his numbers immediately improved. While my words didn't register, the clips I showed him did.
Detailed evaluation based on clip 10.051.
1. Upper Body and Connection are good until just before Point Of Contact, where there is some Push Disconnection. As a result, he never Stops the Knob, his Whip is less than it could be, and he has a problem with Warning Track Power.
2. Leaky Hands. No Loading the Hands or any type of Loading.
3. Rolling Onto the Inside of the Back Foot.
4. Hips Closed into Foot Plant.
5. Lack of Separation. At best, hands and hips turning at the same time.
Borderline lunging. Seems to push through the POC. Push Disconnection. Bat head starts moving early. Starts leaking well before front heel plants. No shift and load. Loads too early. Back elbow front heel sequencing is off. Front knee never extends or extends well after the POC. No running start.
1. Get rid of sway. Reduce linear movement. Reduce lunging. Improve rotation.
2. Open up front foot a bit.
This clip doesn't show as much disconnection, which is good.
One thing I do see that could cause problems is a lot of head movement. You're tracking the ball with your head, and not just your eyes, and it looks like you are trying to see the ball hit the bat. Ryan Ludwick does this and I think it explains some of his consistency problems.
Really good hitters have much less head movement and track the ball more with their eyes than with their heads.
You also sway a bit in your stance like Ludwick does, and that isn't the most efficient loading pattern (and it can lead to unnecessary head movement). If you look at Holliday, he moves much less when he loads. Check out my page on Sway.
HIM: "RE: CIRCULAR HAND PATH: Hi my name is Tommy Pham I am a minor league baseball player in the Cardinals organization. I have been reading and doing a lot of research this off-season regarding the mechanics and science to hitting. One of the many things I have learned that I don't do is rotate to the ball at the same time with my hands and back shoulder. Instead, I start my swing with my hands and my back shoulder lags behind. I have learned that this is a major flaw in my swing. I was hoping you could help me find ways I to improve my rotation to the ball and if there is a cause to this problem. Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!"
ME: "First, where are you in the country? I'm in St. Louis. I'd love to see if we could meet in person so I could film your swing. Second, what you are describing sounds like Push Disconnection, which is a pretty common but deadly problem at the highest levels of baseball. I know of a number of drills that can help with this. Andres Torres had this problem and has been able to make some improvements."
Push disconnection. Throwing the hands at the ball. Not loading. In truth, the opposite of loading. Hands are going forward when they should be staying in place or going up and/or backwards like Albert Pujols' hands do. Very much like Andres Torres. Needs to understand Connection and Loading the Hands.