Every baseball player would love to be able to hit for power, but not every baseball player is a natural like Bryce Harper. There are a lot of things that go into a powerful baseball swing, and no one swing method or form is the right fit for all hitters. However, there are some "Cream and Clear"-free ways that can help all players add power. With the strategy and preparation, you can develop both your mind and body for power hitting as well as improve your form regardless of your preferred stance or swing.
While all those stats can be very helpful individually, using them all to establish a batted ball profile will help you to get a solid idea of what a player’s hitting skill set really is. For the most part, a player with a solid LD% and IFH% can be expected to put up an above-average BABIP, while a player with a large FB% and IFFB% can be expected to post a below-average mark. With that framework in mind, let’s look at a quick example from the 2014 season:
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On-Base Percentage (OBP) measures the most important thing a batter can do at the plate: not make an out. Since a team only gets 27 outs per game, making outs at a high rate isn’t a good thing — that is, if a team wants to win. Players with high on-base percentages avoid making outs and reach base at a high rate, prolonging games and giving their team more opportunities to score.
Certainly this feat also involves an almost instantaneous ability to estimate trajectories. In the case of the frog, researchers have been able to locate specific nerve cells in the frog retina and in the brain which are excited by small, dark, moving objects. The frog apparently pays no attention to these objects until their images begin to grow bigger on his retina, indicating that they are moving closer to him. If all other visual cues are right, out goes the tongue.
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If you're looking for distance, commit this tip to memory: Your weight should move in the direction the club is swinging. When the club goes back, your weight shifts back; when the club swings through, your weight shifts through. A common fault with amateurs is the reverse pivot, where the weight stays on the front foot during the backswing and often falls to the back foot on the downswing. That's about the weakest move you can make.
Charlie Metro: "The great catches are made at the start, not at the end. The end is the net result of the start . . . If you pivot [correctly], you've made one step and you're three or five feet, whatever, toward the ball. . . . But if you do this [leaning the wrong way, stepping across] you've taken three steps and haven't moved out of your tracks. So the great catches in the outfield are made with the initial move."
When trying to hit for power one of the most important aspects is having a solid bat path. If the swing gets long, you are not going to be able to keep up with fastballs. If the swing gets too short, you are going to pull off and roll over to your pull side. How can we fix this? A simple drill that we use is the interlocking throws drill. The purpose of this drill is to build muscle memory of a good path to the ball and through the zone. Looking at the picture here, she is already loaded with her hands in a good launch position. From here, you are going to want to go through your swing, and release the ball at an upward launch angle. The ball should come out of your hand around where the point of contact would be.
Overall, BABIP is a stat that is largely out of the batters control, which makes sense because as a hitter, once you hit the ball onto the field, you can’t affect what happens next. The league average BABIP is usually right around .300, meaning balls in play typically land for a hit about 30% of the time. So in theory, if a player has a BABIP of .350, you might say he had a “lucky” season, and you could expect him to regress the following season, right? On the surface it makes sense, but the whole point of this article is to look beyond just the surface stats, and that is exactly what we will do.
So OBP=Runs, Billy Beane was right. That doesn’t mean that the players on the left are bad, but they are inferior to the players on the right when it comes to scoring runs (and several other categories). Justin Morneau had a fine season, but 17 home runs and 62 runs scored hardly make him the better fantasy player. Lorenzo Cain stole 28 bases, but with 53 RBIs and 55 runs scored that .301 average is kind of empty, don’t you think? So far OBP favors the better overall player.
During the entire middle portion of the pitch, the batter must time the ball and decide where to swing. If the batter decides to swing, he must start when the ball is approximately 25 to 30 feet in front of the plate. The ball will arrive at the plate about 250 thousandths of a second later -- about the limit of human reaction time. The bat must make contact with the ball within an even smaller time range: A few thousandths of a second error in timing will result in a foul ball. Position is important, too. Hitting the ball only a few millimeters too high or too low results in a fly ball or a grounder.
Josh Donaldson hit .255 and scored 93 runs; think some of those 76 walks helped him out? Brandon Moss was the man to own in the first half even with a .268 BA, but was dropped like a rock in the second half where he hit .173. His OBP slipped from .349 down to .310, but at least he was still playable thanks in part to 14.8% walk rate. Adam Dun hit .219 in 2013 and while he hit 34, owners cursed him. Forget the 76 walks and .320 OBP though, it doesn’t count in fantasy. In 2012 Dunn hit 41 home runs and scored 87 times, but a .204 batting average had him on America’s most hated list. Using OBP you could have had .333 thanks in part to his 105 walks which batting average didn’t take into consideration. Dunn’s value in 2012 using OBP was slightly above Adam Jones and his 34 walks. Dunn had 71 more walks and Jones had 76 more hits, similar results but Jones is rewarded for being on base an equal amount of times.
On the strength of a batting average of thirty-three point nought seven for Middlesex, he had been engaged by the astute musical-comedy impresario to whom the idea first occurred that, if you have got to have young men to chant 'We are merry and gay, tra-la, for this is Bohemia,' in the Artists' Ball scene, you might just as well have young men whose names are known to the public.
Not only that, every baseball player in any situation would benefit from improving their hitting power. This has to be a focus of yours. Technique and power development can be trained simultaneously in the same training program and not overlap one another. So go to hitting practice, hit the gym, and be the guy the other team doesn’t want to see in the warm-up area.
Slugging percentage (SLG), the preferred statistic of Jim Leyland, is simply the number of total bases, again not counting walks, divided by the number of at bats. Four bases for a homer, three for a triple, two for a double, and one for a single. Slugging percentage has been around at least since I was a kid, and there was a regular column for SLG in the stat charts listed in the Detroit News every Sunday. The problems with SLG are that a triple isn’t really three times as valuable as a single, and a base on balls is treated like it never even happened. If you want to "just knock em in," that’s fine, but a triple doesn’t put three guys on base to knock in. They have to get on base or you can’t knock em in.
To do this drill, you stride over the outside stick, and while completing the swing, work on getting the back foot over the back stick, really focusing on weight transfer. Note how in the pictures, she has stepped past the stick and to the tee, and in the next frame, began shifting her weight from her back leg to the ball. This drill is excellent for weight transfer and using the lower half to drive the ball.
Charlie Metro: "The good hitters get their tip-off from the pitchers. And there are many, many ways that a pitcher tips off his pitches. He grips it like that [fingers straight over top of ball]; there's your fastball. When he throws a curveball, he chokes the ball [wedges it between his thumb and forefinger, gripping it on the side so it sticks out]. Now see how much white of the ball shows on a fastball? And how much more white shows on a curveball? . . . Another thing is when they bring the ball into the glove, when they come in with a flat wrist like that, that'll be a fastball. When they turn their wrist like that, it's a breaking pitch. There are many, many ways, and the good hitters pick out these things . . . facial expressions . . . human habits and characteristics will tell."
I do not consider loading the body to be a part of the actual swing, because it isn’t. However, there CAN NOT be an efficiently powerful swing without a proper loading sequence. The loading sequence for a any hitter is fundamentally the same but it may change due to the size, strength, and talent level of the individual. Players who are limited in size need to think about a more obvious momentum builder move like Jose Bautista shown below.
While we haven’t seen the sport’s top hitters blasting home runs at record pace, as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire did at the height of the steroid era, we are seeing a significant rise in the power numbers of players in the 20-home run range. The result is a plethora of players who are capable of providing a club with power at the plate, giving general managers more options to add home run hitters to their lineup than ever before.
These are just a few examples of the many critical factors that come into play regarding your hitting power that go outside the scope of what I can control on the gym floor. Essentially, you can do everything I tell you to do in this article to improve hitting power, but if you don’t have the proper technique to execute and express that power then your first priority is to learn proper batting technique.
Adjusted OPS-plus (OPS+): You might be familiar with OPS, which is simply on-base percentage added to slugging percentage (forget, for the moment, that they have different denominators). OPS+ is simply OPS adjusted for park and league conditions. It's scaled to 100, which means that 100 indicates a league-average OPS adjusted for park and league. An OPS+ of 110, for instance, is an OPS that's 10 percent better than the league average. On the other end, an OPS+ of 85 is one that's 15 percent worse than the league average. It's useful in that you can make a thumbnail comparison between, say, a hitter in Coors Field in 2000 to one in Dodger Stadium in 1968. It helps correct for the two things that most often corrupt unadjusted stats -- home parks and eras -- and it leans on the the two most important things a hitter can do -- get on base and hit for power. - Dayn Perry
The last notable disadvantage of OBP is that it is not park or league adjusted. It is easier for players to post a higher OBP in parks such as Fenway Park or Coors Field than the Oakland Coliseum or Petco Park. Likewise, OBP has fluctuated throughout time. Carl Yastrzemski led the American League with an OBP of .395 in 1965. However, in 2001, Jason Giambi put up the highest mark at .477. There are ways to adjust numbers for park and league context, but we'll save that topic for a later date.
Henry Chadwick, an English statistician raised on cricket, was an influential figure in the early history of baseball. In the late 19th century he adapted the concept behind the cricket batting average to devise a similar statistic for baseball. Rather than simply copy cricket's formulation of runs scored divided by outs, he realized that hits divided by at bats would provide a better measure of individual batting ability. This is because while in cricket, scoring runs is almost entirely dependent on one's own batting skill, in baseball it is largely dependent on having other good hitters on one's team. Chadwick noted that hits are independent of teammates' skills, so used this as the basis for the baseball batting average. His reason for using at bats rather than outs is less obvious, but it leads to the intuitive idea of the batting average being a percentage reflecting how often a batter gets on base, whereas in contrary, hits divided by outs is not as simple to interpret in real terms.