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Style vs Absolute

Posted by: Jack Mankin (MrBatspeed@aol.com) on Thu Feb 13 16:04:42 2003

Hi All:

In questioning whether or not the back-elbow should be elevated, Mikeyd's post (below) raised some valid points. I am starting a new thread to address his last point regarding batting "Styles."


First of all, that information, "the hands should be 6 - 10 inches from the body" comes from Dusty Baker's book page 31. I think Dusty is refering to in "the stance" 6 - 10 inches does not seem unreasonable to me. On your website Jack you use a simulation of Sammy Sosa's swing - I guarantee you, his hands are more than 10 inches away from his body in his stance. Are you advocating that the hands need to be closer than 6 inches away? At what point does that need to occur? If you are more than 6 inches away what is the disadvantage? At launch, does it matter if the pitch is in or out of where your hands are - 6 inches or less? I think when you start mandating things like that - you are cloning hitters and more than one style can and does work. Just cause you find a 12 year old, Jack, that getting their hands closer into their body increases their productivity does not mean it is good for every hitter in the world regardless of body type, strength, arm length, height, etc. Do any of these factors matter to you Jack. Is plate coverage an issue? Big Mac for instance was never closer than 6 inches away from his body at any point - and he stood way off the plate; so does Sosa.

There are substantive issues to discuss and reasoning to support any theory and when that happens, we all get better. Thanks?

Jack Mankin's reply:

Mikeyd, you stated, "I know from watching videos and looking at pictures, Jack, that there is more than one "right" way to swing the bat - and your style is not a cure all and has some definite limitations too."

I agree that good hitters exhibit many different "Styles" in how they prepare for the swing. As a hitter takes his stance in the box, some will (as you pointed out) have their hands away from their body; some close to the shoulder; some will have their hands high like A-Rod; some low at the belt like Bonds; some good hitters will stand tall while others like to squat/crouch; some will take longer strides; some soft or no-stride. These are a batter's individual Styles and my work has not taken a position on whether or not one Style has an advantage over another.

However, once the batter has completed his preparation for the swing and has brought the bat to the launch position, the time for the batter to exhibit his individual "Style" is over. When the swing is being fully initiated, there are "Absolute" batting principles all hitters must use to generate maximum bat speed and a consistent swing plane. Therefore, the swing mechanics exhibited by all the best hitters, from initiation to contact, are basically the same when viewed frame-by-frame.

The bat speed developed by all swings will be governed by the same mechanical principles. Defining these mechanical principles common to all great hitter's swings is what my study concentrated on. --- The purpose of batting mechanics is to apply forces to the bat that will gain maximum acceleration of the bat-head into a predictable arc toward contact. Note: Since the purpose of batting mechanics is to accelerate the bat-head, the terms I defined, CHP (Circular Hand-Path), BHT (Bottom-Hand-Torque) and THT (Top-Hand-Torque) are to identify the forces acting on the bat.

The forces a batter applies to the bat that cause the bat-head to accelerate into its arc is torque (push/pull action supplied through the hands) and transfer of the body's rotational energy via the angular displacement of the hands (Circular Hand-Path). The batter does not have a choice of whether or not to use these forces. The bat speed attained, regardless of who he or she may be, baseball or softball, Pro or Little Leaguer, will be governed by the angular displacement rate of the CHP and the amount of torque energy supplied to the bat during the swing by the batter's transfer mechanics.

Mikeyd, great hitters find an elevated back-elbow a more powerful position to apply THT than starting with it low or in the slot. -- In the near future, I will write a post outlining the Absolute mechanics found by a frame-by-frame breakdown of all great the hitter's swings.

Jack Mankin


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