MLB Network recently focused on how the Boys in Blue won the 2017 NLCS, and produced on-air segments over the weekend that showed viewers how this lineup has gotten so good.
On Friday’s episode of The Rundown, Harold Reynolds caught up with former teammate, and Dodgers’ Hitting Coach, Turner Ward, to discuss the player development of these Dodgers hitters. Ward had a lot of interesting tidbits that the normal human eye wouldn’t be able to catch while watching a game. While delivering the fascinating sequence, Ward stated that the players trust his teaching, because he thinks of himself as a Watchman, instead of being labeled as a hitting coach.
Reynolds: What are you teaching now, compared to what we learned back then?
Ward: To me, it’s all about trying to impact the ball, hit it hard, and have a quality A-B (at-bat).
Turner Ward on what he means by “impact”:
Ward: As you’re impacting, it’s like putting everything together. My lower-half is going to bring my swing, my core is going to bring everything in, and my hands come with my lower-half. Then I’m putting everything I have together at the point of impact.
Turner Ward on staying on plane and staying inside the ball:
Ward: My swing is going to get on plane as I go to impact the ball, and if I can stay on plane all the way through this ball, then it’s a good swing. Guys with good swings can keep, and maintain that swing. You look at guys like Corey Seager; as he goes to make his contact, he can stay through, and you’ll see this arc on that ball.
Reynolds: What does staying inside the ball mean?
Ward: The biggest thing for me about it is that I know our hands can carry outside of our bodies [negatively]. So, if this is my natural hand-position [inside], then this is where I want my hands to carry. As I go to impact the ball, I have some room to stay inside. I need to make sure that I’m not out, around the ball. Staying inside keeps my hands in a consistent place to keep the ball inside my body.
Turner Ward on what he tries focusing on when coaching hitters:
Ward: I get guys to try and hit the ball towards the middle. If you take a bad angle to get to it, there’s no way you can get good impact on it. If a guy’s down two strikes, he’s trying to cover the outside [zone], but he knows that if he can stay with his approach up the middle, he knows that he can take his hands, and hit that ball… Because he knows about that contact plane.
You can watch a clip from the episode below!
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 22, 2017
During Sunday night’s episode of MLB Tonight, former players were asked about how the Dodgers took their offense to another level, after the additions of Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers improved statistics against left-handed pitching, and the progression of both their young blue-gems has played a pivotal part towards the teams’ success in 2017.
Cliff Floyd broke down Cody Bellinger’s tape, and compared his batting stance to Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.:
Look how his head is on the pitcher with two eyes. So when you’re looking at Cody Bellinger, the bat’s a little more flat [in comparison with Griffey], but his head is completely turned, and what you’re doing is eliminating only seeing the ball with one and a half eyes. He also still gets the leverage, he gets to be able to stay on the baseball, he keeps that front-shoulder in, and that’s what gives him gap-to-gap type power.
Carlos Pena studied Chris Taylor’s mechanics and compared his swing to a combination of current superstars that are some of baseball’s greatest hitters:
He went into the offseason, and took pieces from his favorite players. Look at the hands from Mike Trout, he wanted to get the same handle right there. Slightly different, but it’s somewhat similar. He wanted to redefine his swing, and work at restructuring it. How about this leg-kick. Turner, you’re my teammate, you’re one of the best… More rhythm, more timing. And how about the feet, like [Nolan] Arenado. Those hips lock-in while he’s moving those feet, keeping that rhythm going. It’s all about timing, and as hitters, it’s all about getting as many hits as possible.”
These exceptional examinations provide fans, or any young prospect, an advanced view of analyzing baseball through the use of metrics and the naked eye. It’s amazing because these lessons and evaluations help dissect what’s going on during the Dodgers at-bats.
The front office did a great job of selecting the right coaches and players for this moment. Dave Roberts’ staff deserve a lot of credit for putting players in uncomfortable situations early on, leading to positive results in the postseason. However, it is all about the players, and their hard work has played a key factor towards their development into becoming a dangerous-perennial batting order.
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