Originally Posted December 29, 2013
I have been writing for a few years about why some of the best hitters in baseball go into slumps and stay in them for such long periods of time. Their slump can last from one, two or more months to even years. The reason they stay in them for such a long period of time is they aren't working on the correct hitting mechanics to get out of the slump.
The reason a great hitter goes into a slump in the first place is they change the way they are using the body in the swing. They go away from using mainly the body and start using their arms and wrists more. This brings in many problems for the hitter. Three big problems are hitters will lose power, timing and start to swing at more bad pitches. These problems will not go away until they go back to using mainly their body.
Albert Pujols is a great hitter that went into a slump and became an average hitter because he started working on some things that took most of his 230 lb body out of the swing and made him use his arms instead. I watched a video July 11, 2011 on MLB.com called Diamond Demo: Pujols on hitting. I wanted to watch it because of all the players I have seen talk about the swing, Pujols would know what is really happening in a great swing. I was amazed that what he was working on, with then hitting coach Mark McGwire, is almost the opposite of the way he used his body his first eleven years in the Majors. Everything they were working on would make him swing mainly with his arms. I hoped he would never actually start doing this in a game.
At the end of 2011 you could see Pujols start swinging more with his arms, the things they were working on starting to creep into his swing. He didn't have a very good World Series except for one game and the last two years his stats have steadily become worse because he is actually swinging mainly with his arms in games. Below are stats from the last three years compared to the previous three years.
Years AVG AB/HR Base On Balls % % Swing at bad pitches
2008- 2010 .331 13.3 AB 15.8 % 24 %
2011- 2013 .283 18.8 AB 8.7 % 34.%
You can see the last three years Pujols has lost power and his average is down almost 50 points. His walks are way down because he is now swinging at more bad pitches. He has shown little consistency. This shows even a player that had perhaps the best first eleven years hitting ever can become an average hitter just by working on things that make him use his arms more.
Pujols needs to go back to what he did the first eleven years, use his body to go forward. Pujols now just puts his heel up and then down to start his swing, there is very little forward momentum. With his body out of the picture he now works much harder to bring the bat around with his arms. This changes his swing completely and makes it almost the opposite to what he did before.
What is happening now VS What Pujols did before
No stride, heel goes up then down Would take a four to five inch stride
Rotates and arms pull bat forward Body went forward pulling bat forward
Bat rounder much slower path Bat straight forward much faster path
Start swing earlier Waited longer to start swing
Swings at more bad pitches Swung at less bad pitches
Much less torque and force in swing Much more torque and force in swing
Bat goes down through the ball Bat on the plane of the pitch
Bat pulled across body and left too fast Bat more out through the ball
Smaller hitting zone, 1 to 2 feet Larger hitting zone, 3 to 4 feet
Hitting mainly with his arms Hit the ball with his 230 lb body
Less power and consistency Great power and very consistent
Game seems faster to him Game seemed much slower
In three year slump ( for him) One of best first eleven years ever
Pujols is one of my favorite players and I hope he figures out that all he needs to do is go back to taking a small step and then going forward with his body. He needs this forward momentum to be able to hit the ball with the power, timing, and consistency he did before.
This same thing is also happening to so many other Major Leaguers because they are working on hitting cues that make them swing mainly with their arms.
If you would like to learn how to hit the ball with much more force and power using your body call Mike Sedberry at 304-722-6393 for more information.