Gardner Makes A Change In His Batting Approach

As I watched Brett Gardner extend his hot start in Spring Training last night, I wondered how the slap hitting outfielder could be making such good contact. I watched a few of his 2013 at bats, and then went back to 2012, and then I realized that he’s made a key change. Take a look at the GIF below and see if you can spot it.

gardnerhands

Gardner is no longer keeping two hands on the bat, and is taking a one-handed follow-through immediately on point of contact with the pitch. In 2012, Gardner’s two-handed approach at the plate was more reminiscent of a power hitter, rather than the contact and speed he usually uses at the plate. Prior to 2012, Gardner used this same one-handed approach, and it’s a mystery as to why he ever changed.

At first I thought it had to do with injury, but he was keeping both hands on the bat prior to his injury in 2012. Perhaps it was to get more power, as it’s understood that you can generate more energy from your hips with a two-handed follow-through. The benefits of the one-handed approach include keeping your head steady on contact, and thus a better ability to keep your eye on the pitch, as well as keeping your torso in the hitting zone. Coach Dan does a great job of explaining the benefits here.

Over at Bio-Kinetics, they compared a 3D skeleton swinging the bat with the one-handed approach (in this case Mark McGwire), and that of a two-handed approach. Although the timing is different, you can see that in the follow-through, the head area stays in a much more stable position.

What’s the better approach? It’s been debated, but in the end it’s about the batter’s preference. For Gardner, a one-handed follow-through makes the most sense since he’s looking for contact over power.

The outfielder is now 11 for his last 19,. Yes, it is Spring Training, but there are few hotter hitters. Correlation does not imply causation, and we can’t assume that his decision to go back to the old swing has made him a .579 hitter. This hot streak obviously won’t go on forever, but at least he looks incredibly comfortable with the change in his approach. Hopefully it’ll help him return to 2010 type numbers.

Mike is the co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money. Outside of blogging baseball, Mike is also a musician, a runner, and a beer lover.

9 thoughts on “Gardner Makes A Change In His Batting Approach

  1. Mik

    These video comparisons were one of my favorite features from YA, keep them up!

    • Mike Eder

      Thanks

  2. John

    Gardner having a great year could really boost the Yankees chances. Especially if we wind up playing more "small ball" type offense this year.

  3. Agreed. It's a very different lineup with Gardner at #1 vs #9, but he needs to do well enough to justify a #1 position.

    • John

      Yankees have a lot more flexibility speed wise this year than they had last year. Gardner, Ichiro, and to a lesser extent Jeter all have the speed to be a #1. You can interchange them depending on who is pitching and who is doing well. Further having Gardner or Ichiro in the 9 spot gives the lineup a great turnover ability.

      I really think the offense is going to be much better than people expect.

  4. uyf1950

    I hope Gardner keeps it up. Between Gardner and Pettitte if they can stay healthy for the entire season they could be better then any 2 off season signing the Yankees could have made.

  5. mcmastro

    From my baseball experience, and maybe it was because i was simply more comfortable doing it this way, taking your hand off the bat after follow through sacrifices a bit of power (which Gardner doesn't really have anyway). It does however, make it easier to take the ball the other way and slap some hits out of the infield. I'm not sure this really has any effect on him though, because he already does that so well.

    Then again, hitting is all about comfort and a good mindset, and if he has one because of this change, maybe it will help him keep this torrid hitting pace up!

    • Mike Eder

      I still wonder if the team thought the two handed approach contributed to his injuries last year.

  6. michael

    Ahh, can't wait to see another game with Yankees putting up double digit runs on Boston's staff

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