Hitting Specialist Mike Huber Hosts all 30 MLB 2014 Season reviews along with his 2015…
Bryce Harper Having Year of His Life…Why?
What swing changes did Bryce Harper make to have the year of his life?
Last year we predicted here at Moneyball that Bryce Harper would move to superstardom in the MLB. Prior to this season, Harper had put up very average numbers. Really he has been a career .260 hitter and averaging 15-20 homers a year. Slightly above average for a player who has been expecting to be one of the better hitters in the league since he came up to the majors.
Harper is definitely one of the most talented hitters in the league, but from a production standpoint, we could see he was underperforming and really not close to his potential. Last year we noticed he made a swing change that we knew was going to make a big difference.
So what was the swing change Harper made?
Harper had problems with off speed pitches because of his inability to stay back. He liked to push hard off his back leg and move into the ball and use more of his front hip to create his power as you can see in this video prior to this year.
Harper has had this swing probably for most of his life and it was only up until he came into the MLB that he decided to change his swing. Great athletes can get away with swing errors up until they reach higher levels of play. If they do not make adjustments they then have to deal with being more of a mediocre player. A lot of players who make it into the higher levels have no problems conforming to mediocrity because they are happy just being in the major leagues. For Harper, he must have felt that he was underperforming and looked for help. So what did he do to have the great year he is having in 2015?
Harper is off to the best start in his MLB career by far.
He leads the league in homers with 19 and his slugging percentage is a whopping .721! He is on pace for close to 50 homers and he is 6th in the league for individual batting average at .333. Basically he has improved his batting and slugging points by more than 70 points. This is a huge turnaround than you almost will never see out of a big leaguer.
Most players in the minor or major league top out at a certain statistical career average which is very mediocre or lower. Like Harper they are open to make adjustments that will help them improve, but mostly the adjustments most make do not help or at times makes things worse. Most of the hitters receive these adjustments from hitting coaches and we have duly noted that it is the hitting coaches that are mostly responsible for the leagues hitting depression it has been in the last few years.
Harper's changes he made to his swing were unusual in the fact that he tried an opposite approach in his swing. Opposite approaches are extreme and risky in a lot of people's minds, but in Harper's case an opposite approach was just what he needed.
What was this approach?
We mentioned that Harper had problems on off speed pitches and he liked to really transfer his weight from back to front forcefully. What he did was learn how to stay back and actually lift the ball off his back foot and not transfer his weight as you can see in the video of his new 2015 approach.
You can see in this video that he is using his back hip to swing and he leans back more with his upper body. A total opposite approach to his prior swing where he utilized more of his front hip and his weight transfer to the front leg was much more dominant. When we saw him make this adjustment, we knew he would be well on his way to become the superstar he was born to be.
For more on how Harper's production can make on the Nationals bid to get to the World Series and why we predicted Harper would have the year of his career this year go to http://moneyballhitter.com/washington-nationals-2014-15-review/