Mike Schmidt: Will they Listen to a Hall of Famer

My new “go to“ line with my hitting students is “Try it, you may end up with a homerun.” Thank You, Mike Schmidt

Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt just came out with an article on postseason hitting and the state of hitting in general. Mike Schmidt knows hitting and I feel it validates much of what I teach, but will anything change.

Retired number of Mike Schmidt

Retired number of Mike Schmidt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is a portion of what Mike writes:

Swinging for the fences is futile. In general, that’s the state of hitting today. Hitters aren’t accountable, they don’t value contact, don’t have a “go-to” swing in the arsenal for contact at-bats.

What is a “go-to” swing? It’s a swing that produces contact. It gives the hitter the confidence to wait and identify the pitch, and get a piece of the ball with two strikes. It makes a hitter tough to strike out, like Pete Rose or Rod Carew. What happened to hitters like that, hitters tough to strike out?

Mike Schmidt finishes with, “Here’s a secret for any hitter reading this: A short, quick chop down-stroke will create contact on any fastball. Try it, you may end up with a home run.”

When people reviewed my book (The Making of a Hitter) on hitting, one refrain was, “Same old stuff,” as many so called experts saw drills promoting a short compact swing and figured it was the “swing down at the ball” hitting approach. Nothing was further from the truth, but my approach does teach contact and swing path first, power later. After all, what is wrong with the hitting techniques of a Tony Gwynn and a Wade Boggs, from my day? If kids struck out at the youth levels of baseball, as the major league players of today, they would have quit the game long ago, or at the least, earned a nice seat on the bench.

In the steroid era, hitting the ball out of sight became the norm, and coaches thought, “Hey, if that rotational-power swing works for them, it is best for all.” Of course, they forgot that only 2% of kids would ever have the power to hit balls over fences. The result has been kids that rotate beautifully, but with little solid contact.

Mike Schmidt – Rock on

No hitting coach denies how important the hip rotation is to a good swing, but a good fundamental swing path is still a major key and necessary to make consistent contact. As Mike says, with two strikes, players should have a “go to” swing, so contact comes. Additionally, no one denies the importance of the home run at the higher levels of ball for run production, but you cannot tell me that more contact would not produce more runs, in the end, especially with men on third and less than two outs. Finally, no one denies swinging hard isn’t important, but there is a way to do it with contact and good results more probable. As Mike says, “You may end up with a home run.” “Amen,” I say.

Mike does give pitchers of today their due, and I agree, as the power arms, with control, are nasty to face , different from my time in the major leagues and the reason hitters should adjust.

But come on, they have seen those power arms all year and have had enough time to figure it out. And the hitting coaches, do they not preach a two strike approach, where contact would benefit the team more than swinging for the fences does as certain times? If a hitter has power, let them go for it, until two strikes, but cut down on the swing then. The all or nothing approach is not working. Of course, I have the feeling the coaches coach correctly, but the players of today are not convinced.

As implied, the youth through high school levels of baseball are different, as the home run is not as big a part of the game. It is more reason to teach a shorter compact swing, that puts balls in play and pressure on the defense.

I guess the moral of the story is, when looking for a hitting coach, be sure to find a coach that teaches the swing path first, as a super quick and powerful rotation is useless without consistent contact. Remember major league players, the kids are watching, or maybe not as the games go so late, but that is a story for another day. Mike Schmidt, you rock, for a nobody like me, no one listens, maybe they will for you, a Hall of Famer.

 

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