The Art of the Batting Stance
By David Oby aka CavFanatic21
Perhaps one of the most known symbols of each player in the Major Leagues is the routine they do when they come to the plate for their at-bats. From mocking your favorite players in a wiffle-ball game, or building your own stance based off of another player’s, everyone has their own rendition of a batting stance.
Batting Stance (n.)
- The position made by the player up to bat, in the sport of baseball, to prepare themselves to attempt to hit the ball
Although it may seem pretty simple, it is outrageous how many different stances have been come up with by past and present players of baseball. No matter what the level, you hardly ever see two batting stances alike. Some are simple, and some make you scratch your head. However, the goal in every batting stance is the comfort of the player, while being able to allow yourself to prepare for the pitch coming to you. We could list all of the players with the simple stances, but that wouldn’t be much fun would it? So let’s just sum those players up with these. There are open stances, like your Ryan Howards and Travis Hafners (Usually those meat-heads that just make the bat look like a toothpick).
Then there are the closed stances. These are the most common, and there are too many players to name with this type of stance. Let’s take Alex Rodriguez for example. Simple… legs evenly apart, toward pitcher, bat off the shoulder. This is easily the most seen type of stance, and really isn’t too intriguing (so let’s move on!). Now we’re at the good part. Let’s look at those guys who just make you scratch your head, or even laugh. We will cover guys like Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Albert Pujols, Craig Counsell, Jeff Bagwell, and oh no, don’t you worry, we will get to Kevin Youkilis.
Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield both have similar stances… very similar. Both are known for their long-ball power, and this can be generally caused by not only their strength, but their batting stance. Both players wave their bats above their heads, possibly to gain more bat momentum, and perfectly time when to move the bat back to prepare for the pitch. Both players then take an enormous step to gain power from their lower halves. The results can be seen with their home run totals. Bonds: 762* Sheffield: 509.
Albert Pujols may be in a league of his own with his own batting stance. It contains the combination of strength and balance (and strangeness). Step one: spread legs far enough apart so things JUST start to begin uncomfortable. Step two: slowly bring the bat up near your shoulders. Step three: raise bat at an angle, and make sure it has no movement. Step four: slowly bob the bat up and down with perfect calmness. That, my friends is Albert Pujols’s batting stance. Don’t look at me, I have no idea where his numbers come from, or that idea of a stance.
Jeff Bagwell really only has one aspect that separates him from the rest of the pack. I am not sure if this started on a dare, or if he found one of the new yoga moves fascinating enough to try to perform in the batter’s box. Let me remind you that batting stances are usually supposed to give comfort to the batter. Does this just scream to you comfort, or what?
Now let’s cover the man, the myth, the legend of Kevin Youkilis. If you are looking for baseball’s version of “The most interesting (batting stance) man in the world”, you sure are in the right place. Although it may hurt my brain, I will try to explain this…this…this… THING he calls a batting stance. Okay, when you walk up to the plate, make sure you are in the back right corner of the box. Your legs have to be close together, but not quite touching. Do the common warm-up half golf swings, and immediately start doing something that will take much practice. This is where it gets messy. All within half of a second, whip your bat up above and behind your head. However, don’t just hold the bat normally with both hands near the knob of the bat, bring your right hand up two thirds of the way up and rub the bat up and down with your first three fingers. But wait! There’s more! The most important part: Now you must bounce up and down on your toes and have a circular motion with both arms. That pretty much explains that one (and it was a mouthful). In case you didn’t get the full picture here, this is what it really looks like…Viewer discretion is advised.
Well for the rest of the guys, I truly am speechless. I have decided to just let the pictures do the talking, and your mind to do the questioning.
Tony Batista (too bad I can’t find a decent image)
Craig Counsell (wish someone still batted like him)
There you have it folks. Batting stances in a nutshell. I hope this aspect of the game we have grown to love is as interesting to you as it is me. I have always been interested in the batting stances used by players around the league, and even modelled mine as a child off of the late, great, Ken Griffey (or so I think). Everyone has their favorites, and I hope you enjoyed the sharing of mine!
And now for the Art of the Pitching Wind-up….Ha ha, just kidding!
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