Cuban players have been seeing a high level of success lately, I believe in large part to what in Cuba is sometimes referred to as The New Swing, a swing that draws upon Ted Williams' idea of Rotational Hitting as described in The Science of Hitting.
Because Cuba and Venezuela are friendly, and both produce great hitters, one of the things I'm doing is talking to the Venezuelan ballplayers I know, trying to figure out what they have been taught, how, and why it works so well.
The New Swing
Soon after putting together my 2007 primer on Rotational Hitting, which is one term that is used to describe Ted Williams' approach to teaching the swing, I started seeing a lot of hits coming from Cuba. Later that year, I was contacted by a baseball instructor by the name of Erich Rodriguez Abreu who worked at the national baseball school, had read my primer, and wanted to learn more about the difference between Rotational Hitting and Linear Hitting.
Then, as soon as I started shipping my Rotational Hitting 101 DVD in late 2008, I started getting orders with very strange mailing addresses. The address was usually in Miami or South Florida, but it was obvious the recipients were re-mailers and the DVDs were ending up somewhere outside of the U.S.
A few months later, I was contacted by the wife of a Cuban baseball player.She was looking for baseball contacts for her husband, who was still in Cuba. During the course of our conversations, she talked about something that in Cuba was known as "The new swing." In essence, it was the opposite of what is sometimes referred to as the A to C Swing that is still widely taught, especially at the highest levels of U.S. baseball.
I quickly realized that something interesting was going on in Cuba; the Cuban baseball establishment understood that there was a problem with how hitting was being taught, and they were passionate about understanding what a good swing actually looks like and how to develop one.
Over the past years I have been studying the swings of Cuban and Venezuelan hitters. The two countries are friendly, and it's obvious that information about the high-level baseball swing and how to develop it has been passed between the two countries.
The Secrets of The New Swing
It turns out that there are a number of differences between The New Swing and how hitting has been taught for years.
|THE NEW SWING
||THE OLD SWING
|Rotation = Power
|Rotation = Flying Open
||Get Your (Front) Foot Down Early
||Throw Your Hands at the Ball
|Let the Fastball Travel
|Extension: Catch/Hit it Out Front
My understanding of the differences between The New Swing and The Old Swing draws upon my experience working with major league, minor league, and college hitters and trying to improve their swings, despite the best efforts of their instructors, as I discuss in pieces like...
The New Swing In Action
I have been trying to get video of players like Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes so that I can break their swings down in detail, but my travel budget is limited. However, the Cardinals' Aledmys Diaz is from Cuba and, as I recently found out, exhibits all of the characteristics of The New Swing.