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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hitch and leg kick are both flaws in a swing.

Sixty years ago a hitch in a batter's swing was something to be eliminated. It was unnecessary hand movement. Batters tried to keep their hands quiet.

Joe DiMaggio had quiet hands. In more recent decades, the better most like DiMaggio was Paul Molitor.

The previous post contained a photo of Mel Ott's leg kick. Mel Ott held the National League record for many years for career home runs with 511. We all knew about Ott's leg kick but it was considered an historical oddity. No one even considered implementing a leg kick. It was much worse than a hitch. One could not imagine how a batter could hit while emulating a pitcher.


... a tryout in early September 1925 ... enthusiastic McGraw told a writer, "That kid is remarkable. He's like a golfer; his body moves [including the distinctive cocked right leg action just before the pitch], but he keeps his head still with his eyes fixed on the ball. He's got the most natural swing I've seen in years." Then McGraw added, prophetically, "This lad is going to be one of the greatest lefthand hitters the National League has seen."

Ott was 5' 9", 170 pounds. He played only for the New York Giants: 1926-1947, ages 17-38. Ott led the NL in homers six times, all with totals in the 30s.

Darryl Strawberry was NL Rookie of the Year with the New York Mets in 1983. He was 6' 6", 190 pounds. Strawberry popularized the modern leg kick with his long powerful swing. In 1988 he led the NL in HR with 39.

A couple of months ago I heard 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson explaining in detail how he used his leg kick for timing. He made a lot of sense. After he had finished I thought about it and concluded that he was full of baloney.

How the heck can it make any sense for the batter to try to time a pitch by imitating the pitcher's motion? These guys have convinced themselves that this flaw is a virtue. What nonsense. They succeed in spite of the leg kick, not because of it. As with the hitch of decades past.

1 comment:

Charles Washington said...

A hitch or a leg kick isn't a swing flaw in my opinion. It is part of their rhythm or timing. The most important part of hitting is where your body is when your front foot lands, and your mechanics after that. Whether or not a hitter leg kicks, toe taps, hitches, etc before that isn't really relevant.

Also Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, David Ortiz, and Jimmie Foxx hitched. There is a reason why dome hitters hitch.