Bryce Harper's swing has shown some flaws in 2016. He went from hitting .330 in 2015 to hitting only .235 in 2016. This video explains exactly why his average dropped.
It's amazing to me that even at the highest level, with a player who is worth half a BILLION dollars, player development is still so bad.
He can be one of the all time greats.
This ball is hit for a home run. If there was ever such a thing as a bad swing resulting in a home run, this is it. He slices this ball, the bat chops through the plane of the pitch. While it worked out on this swing, you can clearly see the margin for error is paper thin.
You can see the downward and sweeping path going around the ball and towards the pull side.
He is doing everything a traditional coach would teach, foot down early, swing down, rotate for power etc...
It's all bad, it's all wrong.
This is an example of a swing that is on plane. Adjust the shoulders to the height of the pitch. This allows the barrel to get behind and then through the baseball for optimal square contact.
This is a swing that is NOT on plane. This is exactly what Harper does. Most coaches think that this type of swing will result in ground balls. It doesn't. This swing will slice the baseball and result in mostly POP UPS.
If Harper is able to consistently get on plane, he could regain his 2015 form.
Like this ^
What he does well
Bryce does use his kinetic chain effectively on the majority of his swings.
Notice that in this clip, his hands stay back for as long as possible. This allows him to maximize his power. On this swing, he squared the baseball and he knows it. We would love to see much more of THIS Bryce Harper.
Here is a good example of how energy flows with effective use of the kinetic chain. Lower body, then upper body.
This is the opposite of what he demonstrates in the on deck circle.
This anomaly is not uncommon. Many players think they do one thing and then perform the opposite in game.
Here is Alex Rodriguez demonstrating how he "swings down."
How could Bryce Harper get better?
First, he needs to recognize what is happening on his best swings.
Every player has a period in their career where things just seem to work. When Harper is at his best, he is able to consistently match plane with the baseball and hit the ball with a good launch angle.
This approach to swing with a more uphill bat path has several other added benefits. I will get to that shortly.
Here is Evan Longoria perfectly matching plane.
Here is what Harper could benefit from.
1. Deeper bat path. This allows the barrel a ton of time and distance to line up the ball perfectly square. This deep path also allows for better adjustability to off speed pitches because the hands are back longer. (He does this on some swings already.)
2. Better ability to "stay inside" the baseball.
What does that even mean?
Staying inside the baseball means that you can take and inside pitch and hit a home run while keeping it fair. You can also hit an outside pitch to the opposite field without pulling it.
Does this mean he shouldn't pull the ball? No. He should pull the ball, he is a power hitter. But there is a difference between catching the ball out front and hitting to the pull side and pulling off the ball.
We have talked about matching plane from the side view but the swing should also be able to line up the ball from the back view.
Here is what I mean.
In this clip, Franco is able to swing inside and trough the path of the pitch.
His barrel continues in the direction of the hit.
In other words, how quickly does your swing turn towards the dugout?
Notice how Franco keeps his body quiet and only has to open up his hips as far as the location of the pitch.
Harper will sometimes "fly open" which is not uncommon for hitters who swing down.
"Stay inside" is the opposite of "swing down."
Notice how Votto swings on a much more vertical plane. Contact is made with the barrel well below the hands. His body is producing force in the direction of the field he is hitting to, not sideways.
Here is another example of a player who "stays inside" very well.
On this pitch, Harper pulled off sideways and chopped down.
On this pitch, Harper had a more vertical swing plane, stayed behind the ball and squared it up.
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