Yesterday, I discussed why I felt that Brennan Boesch was a good buy-low move for the Yankees. To quickly summarize, Boesch was a quality hitter from 2009 through 2011, but it all fell apart in 2012. Batted ball rates and batting averages show that the outfielder was far off from his 2011 style. A thumb injury, bad luck, and perhaps a change in his hitting mechanics hurt him. Now with the Yankees, Boesch can overcome his bad luck, he can hit in a much more hitter friendly ballpark, and he has the opportunity to correct his mechanics with one of the best hitting coaches in the business.
Boesch stated that the thumb injury, which led to surgery, subconsciously changed his hitting mechanics and I assume his grip. Finding the mechanics that gave him an .800 OPS in 2011 could mean big things in Yankee Stadium, so there’s no doubt that the left-handed hitter will be working to reclaim his old methods. It’ll be hard to see his grip, but why not take a look and see if anything else changed.
Sure enough, there are two major difference I can spot. The first is the position that he keeps his bat and his hands. In 2011, Boesch keeps his hands further back and in a more upright position. Comparatively, in 2012, Boesch keeps the bat just slightly above his shoulder, and his hands closer to the hitting zone. This may take away some of the power he had in 2011, since he’s swinging the bat for a shorter period of time before making contact.
The second change is in his back foot. The goal of this step is to add power at the end of his hip rotation right at impact with ball. Watching these two at bats, you’ll see that Boesch’s step in 2011 comes off the ground and lands hard on a very stable back leg. In 2012, he keeps the front of his foot on the ground, and slightly bends his ankle when he steps down on his heel. Despite what looks like a minute difference, Boesch’s step in 2012 could be one major issue. There’s an overall decrease in the power of his 2012 step, since he’s keeping his front toe on the ground, and he’s also bending his ankle, which won’t properly transfer power. In 2012, Albert Pujols made the same mistake, and Chris O’Leary does a great job of outlining the initial problem and how he fixed it in May.
Above, I’ve added an at bat from Saturday’s game. Boesch still keeps his hands slightly forward and the bat close to his back shoulder, as well as keeping the front of his back foot on the ground. I suspect that Kevin Long will change this in the coming weeks.