Publish date:

SWING EVOLUTION

Author:

A DECADE-BY-DECADE LOOK AT SOME OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL STROKES IN BASEBALL HISTORY, INCLUDING THE SIZE OF EACH PRACTITIONER'S TYPICAL BAT

1910s

TY COBB

PLAYING PEPPER

(34.5", 44 OZ.)

Erect setup with feet close together. Huge hitch. Bat held with hands apart at first, then together in load position. Barrel stayed flat.

1920s

BABE RUTH

THE HOME RUN SWING

(36", 42 OZ.)

Contact sacrificed for power. Athletic setup. Low hands, bat tipped as a trigger, forward stride to a firm front side. Swing path slightly upward.

1930s

MEL OTT

THE LEG KICK

(36", 37 OZ.)

One of the kick's first practitioners and an extremist—he stepped high and far. Using a windup style, he also had an enormous hitch, with hands dropping to mid-thigh.

1940s

JOE DIMAGGIO

ROTATIONAL HITTING

(36", 35 OZ.)

Feet wide apart. Hands preset; no hitch. Great speed in hips and core during a full, fast turn. Flat bat path.

1950s

TED WILLIAMS

UPWARD PATH

(35", 33 OZ.)

Hands started low and hitched. Swing on a slight upward path to equal the downward path of the pitch. Hips fired before hands.

1960s

PETE ROSE

FLAT SWING

(35", 33 OZ.)

Bat held flat and stayed level through the zone. Economy of movement, including little to none by the head. Prioritized contact over power.

1970s

GEORGE BRETT

WEIGHT SHIFT

(34", 31 OZ.)

Transfer of weight from a firm back side to a firm front side. Emphasis was on full extension, promoting a one-hand, high finish.

1980s

TONY GWYNN

LINEAR HITTING

(32", 31 OZ.)

The principles: Take the knob to the ball. Stay inside the ball. Let the ball get deep. Hands "pushed" the ball to the opposite field with a level stroke..

1990s

KEN GRIFFEY JR.

STORED ENERGY

(34", 31 OZ.)

Power created by "separation": the stretching of an imaginary band from the front foot, as it went forward, and the hands, which stayed back.

2000s

ALBERT PUJOLS

LINEAR + ROTATIONAL

(34.5", 33 OZ.)

Hands first worked up and back as front hip started forward. "Get the foot down on time," then let rotational forces (hips, torso, hands) take over.

2010s

JOSH DONALDSON

THE MODERN SWING

(34.5", 32.5 OZ.)

Get ready early. Leg kick and hand movement to push the barrel back. Get bat into the plane of the pitch, creating backspin and loft.