Arod Was Right, Kind Of

Introduction

Recently Alex Rodriguez, a top 5 power hitter of all time, posted a video on Youtube called “If You Want To Hit Home Runs, Forget about Launch Angle”

This video sent the #hittingtwitter universe into spin mode.  Half agreeing with what they have always believed and felt, and the other half into gif mode to prove him wrong.

I even jumped in and tweeted my The Basics Launch Angle article to him, asking him to read.

If you haven’t seen the video yet, watch below, it will be the context of this blog.

Where Arod Was Wrong

Here we are again, explaining launch angle.

Launch angle is nothing more than a measurement of the ball both vertically and horizontally off of the bat.  It has nothing to do with how the bat is swung.  Every ball put into play in the history of baseball has a launch angle.

Former players, as well as current players, or anyone with influence in the game should use terminology correctly as it applies to the game.  So the entire framework and overall theme of the video is inaccurate.

HOWEVER, He’s not wrong in what he’s saying.

Feel Vs. Real

In the video, Alex explains that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and the best way to hit home runs is to swing straight down.

Do I think he believes this is the way he swung the bat?  Yes, 100%.

And so do a lot of other players.

Here’s another conversation between Alex and the best player in the game, Mike Trout, outlining the same idea.  Swing straight down.

We live in the best time ever for swing design and player development.  Can you think swing down and be successful?

Absolutely, as long as you don’t actually swing down.

If you watch videos of all the great players that believe they swing straight down to the ball, you will see over and over again that they are arriving at a positive attack angle into impact.  They have to be. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be the players they are.

A simple tool such as a bat sensor from Blast or Diamond Kinetics can help you satisfy the question of, “will your feel produce a result that will play?”

What does that mean? If you think A to B and swing down but you consistently arrive at impact between 5 and 15 degrees up, then great.  Keep doing that.  If you think swing down, and you actually swing down, you may want to rethink your feel to more “up” to produce the desired input to create the output needed to play.

Arod is right, for him.  Explore what is right for you.  It may be “swing down”, or it may not be.  You have to explore and measure to find out.

Trying to Launch Angle Gives You A Blind Spot

Alex states that “If you think launch angle (which is his way of describing excessive vertical swing plane), you will have a big blind spot up in the zone.”

This is also accurate.  Although not accurately described.

If you have too much positive attack angle 20, 25,  or 30 on pitches up in the zone, you will expose yourself to being off plane to pitches up in the zone, and it’s unlikely you will hit them solidly.

Ideally, hitters should focus on the positive 5 to 15-degree attack angle range with the ability to feel and adjust up or down dependent on the tendency of the pitcher?  Do they tend to be up in the zone more?  Think lower.  Do they tend to work in the bottom of the zone more? Think higher.

Like everything, it depends, and you should train to do it all.

Which brings me to my last point

The Best Hitters In The World Can Do Everything

Alex states that the teams he played for had the ability to do everything.

Hit the ball up, hit the ball down, hit the ball left and hit the ball right.

Elite hitters have their “A” swings. Without question.  But they have thousands of movement variations off that and can do whatever they want, whenever they need to.

Joey Votto says this also.  The best hitters can do everything.

If you want to be the best, you have to have the ability to do everything.

Conclusion

I wished announcers and players with influence could use the correct terminology when educated the masses in regards to swings and hitting.

Launch angle isn’t attack angle, approach angle, swing plane, angle of impact or any other terminology that correlates to swing input.

Launch angle shouldn’t be controversial.  Yet it is. Mainly because of misguided information spread by people and players with influence.

Hit hard line drives.  Launch angle is only a measurement tool to provide feedback on how efficiently you are doing this.

That’s it.


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