The modern-day swing is all about bat speed (and launch angles!), borne out of strong hitters and maximum weight transfer. Today’s hitters generally start with some type of load mechanism, with their weight shifting back. Then, in a sudden shift of power, everything goes forward in violent yet controlled fury.
A hitter’s back leg is there to support that initial load and to provide something to pivot against, but by the time a hitter makes contact, it’s really just there for the ride. Here’s Mike Trout‘s first career home run (from hitting analyst Ryan Parker):
At contact, Trout is in the same familiar position as most good hitters:
The back leg is bent, and the back foot is only barely touching the ground. The front leg is stiff, with the foot slightly open. This is pretty typical.
This is not Wil Myers.
Ever since Sac Bunt Chris noticed Myers’ strange back foot/leg mechanics, I’ve been fascinated by them. I wrote about Myers a couple times last year at Baseball Prospectus, at one point touching on his swing mechanics.
Here’s the original Myers gif, from Chris’s first article:
And here’s a side-by-side from one of my articles at BP, comparing Myers at contact to Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols:
And finally, to finish the regurgitation of old material, here’s what I wrote last year about the above image:
Note how Pujols’ back leg—and his entire backside—is into the swing. Myers is all upper body, seemingly too stiff and upright and arms-y, losing valuable pop by neglecting to use the full rotational force of his lower half. There have always been some concerns about the finer points of Myers’ swing, though he’s also largely succeeded with it. If he’s going to tap further into his power potential, though, his swing—and plate approach, in general—could probably use an offseason tune-up.
Of course, Myers is taping into that power potential this season. With last night’s home run, his 11th on the year, Myers’ ISO is up to .287, 14th-best in the league, and his wRC+ sits at a good-almost-great 135. The mechanics, however, remain unchanged. Check out any of Myers’ home runs—any of his swings, really—and you’ll notice some variation of those strange back leg mechanics just about every time, including on last night’s round-tripper.
Here’s an image tweeted by East Village Times of a Myers home run against Chicago (it’s after contact, but still), just in case you don’t believe me:
— East Village Times (@SD_SportingNews) May 13, 2017
Look at that back leg! Shoot, look at the front leg. At and just after contact, Myers’ lower body looks like that of the eighth hitter on your old Little League team (sorry if that was you).
I’m not a hitting expert, so I’m not sure what it means. Myers is clearly able to get enough bat speed the way he’s rolling, but it still feels like there’s maybe another gear there if he were to clean those mechanics up and better utilize his lower half. Then again, it’s always dangerous to tinker with something that’s working, and maybe this is just part of Myers’ DNA as a hitter.
It sure is an entertaining wrinkle, at least.