OLD HABITS DIE HARD “You CAN teach an old dog new tricks “
I am NOT surprised by the overwhelming response to my Cubs Insider interview with Evan Altman and Brendan Miller . I AM surprised that even with the evidence squarely planted in front of their faces , some coaches and instructors still refuse to believe what they see ! There is so much material out there that it is becoming hard to ignore the cold hard facts . Which are very obvious . Those coaches and hitting instructors who are teaching to swing ” down ” on the ball , to hit the ” top ” of the ball , to hit ” ground balls ” , are unequivocally ruining young hitters . They are setting them up for failure . This is a travesty that has reached epic proportions .
I have been teaching these ” positional hitting techniques ” here in Las Vegas since my son Kris was 5 years old – over 20 years now . Oh . . . . I have heard it all ! Kris is 6′ 5″ and not everyone was blessed with size . EXCEPT that 16 of the 26 members who hit 500+ home runs in the MLB , were and are , under 6 feet tall . Its not like Kris came out of the womb and was magically 6′ 5″ , born to hit home runs . As a matter of fact , because Kris played up in age , he was always the SMALLEST player on the team . Not very big as a 12 year old either when he hit 23 home runs in little league . He ALWAYS has hit home runs wherever he played . PRETTY SIMPLE FOLKS : it was the swing path that produced, and continues to produce , all of those home runs ! DUH !
Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy rebuilt his swing by focusing on the angles necessary to hit the ball . . . where ? . . . . IN THE AIR ! The results ? MORE home runs , MORE hits , MORE doubles , HIGHER OB % , HIGHER slugging % , HIGHER Batting Average . . . . better EVERYTHING ! Now he is helping his teammate Ryan Zimmerman , who had an anemic launch angle of 7 degrees , which although still ” up ” , was producing one of the highest ” ground ball ” rates in the major leagues . His batting average on ground balls ? .129 . Coaches – do you still want your hitters to hit the ball on the friggin’ ground ? My money is on Zimmerman to bounce back and have a nice year this year !
You know what the biggest road block is to development , especially here in Las Vegas ? IGNORANCE . . . . . especially from high school coaches ( not ALL of them are ignorant by the way ) . Please take that as a WAKE UP CALL and not a derogatory remark although I admit it MAY come off that way . Grow some thick skin . The answer ? Get informed . How many of you attend the AABCA convention each year ? The docket of speakers is packed with college coaches and professional hitting and pitching instructors from MLB teams that are all too willing to share the knowledge they have acquired by diligently ” hunting ” for it . There simply is NO EXCUSE for NOT BEING informed anymore . Nobody that I know is keeping secrets .
Here is a list of the number of High School players that have been drafted each year since 2008 . You will see a pattern
2008 – 10 players 2009 – 3 players 2010 – 6 players 2011 – 6 players 2012 – 6 players 2013 – 2 players
2014 – 2 players 2015 – 2 players 2016 – 3 players
There is a disturbing trend in that from the years 2013 through 2016 , a four year span , there were LESS players drafted than in 2008 alone ! Since 2008 , a span of 8 years , we see a DOWNWARD spiral . Most of the scouts I talk to DO NOT see this as cyclical . Of the 40 players drafted in that time period from 2008 through 2016 , 6 reached the MLB ( less than 20% ) . 3 PITCHERS and 3 HITTERS . Of the 3 hitters that reached the MLB , they all have ONE THING in common – POWER BATS ! They hit home runs ! 2 of the 3 have won both the Rookie of the Year and MVP ( Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper ) . 1 of those 2 has made history as the ONLY player EVER to win the NCAA Golden Spikes , Minor League Player of the Year , Rookie of the Year , and the MVP in CONSECUTIVE YEARS ( Kris Bryant ) . And 2 of the 3 have one thing in common ( Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo ) – they both shared the same hitting instructor during their developmental years though club baseball and high school ( ME ) .
Sooooooo . . . . . what is the reason for this downward trend ? I have a lawyer friend who once told me the secret to his success : NEVER ask a question that you are NOT 100% sure of the answer to it ! And that will be the subject of a future article . Bye . . . . for now .