Small Adjustment Leads to Bryant’s Power Surge
It was only a matter of time before Kris Bryant made a loud noise. After hitting a home run every 17.92 plate appearances last season, the reigning MVP opened the current campaign with 48 homerless trips to the dish. That ended with the third pitch he saw from Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow, a center-cut fastball Bryant used to dent the video board in left for the fourth time in his career.
You don’t need to know that the ball left the bat at a perfect 33-degree launch angle or that it was traveling 105 mph when it did to know that Bryant hit it on the screws. All it took to know he’d hit his first home run of the season was to hear and see it leave the frame of the picture. Actually, I’m not even sure you needed to see it, though watching the ball fall to the bleachers from the board above was pretty cool.
While it’s nearly impossible to discern changes in the minutia of the kinetic chain involved in hitting a baseball, one eagle-eyed friend pointed out to me that Bryant was staying down on his front foot a little more and was quicker to the ball. I’m not astute enough to note such tweaks on my own, though I suppose I could have easily pulled the wool over your eyes by taking credit for the observation.
Note to self: next time, try to make yourself seem smarter by passing others’ ideas off as your own. Wait, no, it sounds bad when you put it that way. Just stick to using big words once in a while.
Even when I had Corey Freedman, our resident video genius, put together some side-by-side clips comparing Bryant’s scoreboard shot to an earlier at-bat, I couldn’t see much.
But upon further review, I was able to pick up a difference in the follow-through. It’s pretty clear that Bryant kept his front foot down at the point of contact, thus creating a better anchor for the power transfer. The earlier clip conjures images of David Ross on Dancing with the Stars or maybe even Peyton Manning in the pocket, what with the happy feet shifting around and all.
Not that you could have heard them over the crack of the bat, but Bryant’s feet were again quieter in the box when he hit his second home run late in the game. While the result wasn’t quite as majestic, the ball still made it over the wall in left center.
Baseball is a game of adjustments, not all of which are immediately obvious or even effective. This was definitely the latter, though it was really less a matter of changing something than it was getting back to proper mechanics. Either way, the results should have NL pitchers doing their own happy-feet dance as they try to figure out how to pitch to Bryant moving forward.