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.
Comparing a baseball or softball swing to a car engine is something that I do almost everyday. It’s an easy way to help kids and parents understand how the system inside the swing works. For someone who doesn’t look at hundreds of swings a day, it can be difficult to identify or help a player become a more efficient swinger of the bat. A lot of times coaches will see a result like a pop up or ground ball and associate the weak contact with lack of effort. Most of the time, this is simply not the case. In the following article I hope to help players understand the importance of not making “early mistakes” and also help coaches and parents break down the efficient swing. To do so, we will break the swing down into three phases.  The three phases are 1. Acceleration/Angle Creation, 2. Maintain, 3. Release. They are illustrated in the picture below in a Playoff home run by Francisco Lindor.
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.

Here's a quick example: Ichiro Suzuki had a record 262 hits in 2004. He also walked 49 times and was hit by 4 pitches. The sum is 262 + 49 + 4 = 315. He had 704 at bats, 49 walks, 4 hit by pitches, and 3 sacrifice flies on the year. That sum is 704+49+4+3=760. Dividing 315 by 760 gives the on base percentage of .414. That's not too bad, but it's not much higher than his batting average, which was an impressive .372. By comparison, Jose Bautista had a respectable batting average of .286 in 2014, but still reached base at a very strong .403 clip, helped by 104 walks.

The way you hold the handle of a baseball bat determines the speed and power of your hit. If you choke up on the handle and hold the bat closer to the barrel, you are gaining bat swing speed but losing on the hitting power. If you hold closer to the bottom of the bat, you gain hitting power and momentum but lose on the speed. You should extensively practice with both methods of holding the handle and find the golden mean where you are able to swing quickly and still hit the baseball as far as possible.


The way you hold the handle of a baseball bat determines the speed and power of your hit. If you choke up on the handle and hold the bat closer to the barrel, you are gaining bat swing speed but losing on the hitting power. If you hold closer to the bottom of the bat, you gain hitting power and momentum but lose on the speed. You should extensively practice with both methods of holding the handle and find the golden mean where you are able to swing quickly and still hit the baseball as far as possible.

The formula for determining On-Base Percentage (OBP) is to add the batter's number of hits, base on balls, and times hit by pitch together and divide this number by the sum of at-bats, base on balls, times hit by pitch and sacrifice flies. Most leadoff hitters in baseball typically have a high OBP as these batters have the ability to get on base consistently on their own and are slotted in the beginning of the order. It is possible for a player to have a higher batting average than OBP, but this is usually only if they do not draw many walks or get hit by many pitches or if they hit an inordinate number of sacrifice flies.


In my opinion this must happen before acceleration so that the barrel can accelerate the appropriate direction. Depending on the the pitch height, the hitter will mirror that height with the angle of their shoulder rotation followed by the degree of the barrel. The higher the pitch, the flatter the rotation and barrel. The lower the pitch the higher the barrel will stay initially and the shoulders will the rotate more vertically. In a perfect world, the barrel level will match the shoulder level at contact.

A hit is more valuable than a walk?  Why?  Your team pays you to get on base.  Granted they want players that can hit, but they also see the advantage of the guy that can draw walks.  Sure the guy that gets a hit can drive in runs more frequently if men are on base, I can’t argue with that.  In the same respect, we don’t put an asterisk next to the runs driven in because the guy in front of you walked.  On the flip side, the guy who walks more has more opportunities to score runs, so you’re trading one category for the other. 

The second number in a slash line represents on base percentage. This is calculated by dividing the total times a player gets on base (hits, walks, and hit-by-pitch) by a player’s total number of eligible at bats, essentially all trips to the plate minus events outside of the batters control, like reaching on error and hitting into a fielder’s choice). These “eligible at bats” are calculated by adding regular at bats with the total number of times walked, hit-by-pitch, and hit into a sacrifice fly. That gives you the following formula to calculate on-base percentage, or OBP for short.


These are important because they show you how often (on average) a player walks and strikes out. Unlike batting average, K% and BB% are given in a direct percentage format, so there’s no need to translate it. The application of these stats is pretty straightforward; a player with a high BB% and low K% would typically have a good batting eye, and a player with opposite-type numbers would typically have a poor batting eye.
For small numbers of at-bats, it is possible (though unlikely) for a player's on-base percentage to be lower than his batting average (H/AB). This happens when a player has almost no walks or times hit by pitch, with a higher number of sacrifice flies (e.g. if a player has 2 hits in 6 at-bats plus a sacrifice fly, his batting average would be .333, but his on-base percentage would be .286). The player who experienced this phenomenon with the most number of at-bats over a full season was Ernie Bowman. In 1963, with over 125 at-bats, Bowman had a batting average of .184 and an on-base percentage of .181.
Other factors that affect the batter's swing are the effective length and weight of the bat. The farther up the handle the hitter holds the bat, the less time it takes to swing at the ball, for the simple reason that there is less mass to move through space, and therefore less inertia to overcome with sheer muscle power. But consequently, less mass hits the ball. Power is the trade-off for speed and precision, hence the maxim that the more powerful the swing, the less likely the hit.
In modern times, a season batting average higher than .300 is considered to be excellent, and an average higher than .400 a nearly unachievable goal. The last player to do so, with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship, was Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, who hit .406 in 1941, though the best modern players either threaten to or actually do achieve it occasionally, if only for brief periods of time. Ty Cobb holds the record for highest career batting average with .366, 9 points higher than Rogers Hornsby who has the second highest average in history at .358.
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