The science of hitting has evolved significantly over the last 30 years in terms of understanding the physics and biomechanics behind a high-level swing.
Back in the 1940s and 1950s the best major league hitters seemed to "naturally" focus on rotational hitting (i.e. getting as much power from their legs and core), with guys like Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle the standard. But, with the development of aluminum bats and astro-turf, the approach to hitting became more linear with an emphasis on hitting for average over power. The standard during this phase were guys like George Brett and Tony Gwynn. But, the "steroid era" brought back the rotational power hitting of the past, with guys like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire.
The key to hitting for power is bat speed. There are some universal biomechanical traits of a high-level swing that can be learned to improve bat speed. We separate the swing into four phases: stance, load, separation, and connection. A big difference between an inexperienced swing and a high-level swing is the amount of torque/power generated in the legs and core. By using your legs and core, not only do you generate more bat speed, but you also get a "quicker swing," allowing more time to identify pitches.
Goals by Division:
* Pinto - Develop consistent high level swing through consistent strikes on pitching machine.
* Mustang - Develop concept of "quality at-bats." 1) Identify good pitches to hit, 2) getting good swings at those pitches. Work on developing a quick swing, which allows you to maximize the amount of time to identify good pitches to hit. Understand how swing mechanics change with inside/outside pitches and high/low pitches.
* Bronco/Pony - develop into a complete hitter. Understand the mechanics of good swing and how it changes under the three variables of pitch speed, location, movement. Increase knowledge on pitch selection for success, reading pitchers, and how the swing changes based on game situations.
One of the best ways to learn is to emulate those who do it well. Below we have some videos of some of the best hitters in the game.
* Ian Kinsler - Here is one in batting practice. Remember the old cue to keep your back elbow up? Where is his? Not up. Look at front foot and how the heel is used to generate torque/ rotation. It's batting practice so he is not swinging as hard as he does in a game, but you can still see how it is the feet initiating core rotation. "Short to the ball". Very quick swing overall. Video 1. Video 2.
* Chase Utley - one of the best swings in the game. Why? Because it is one of the "quickest." Very little wasted effort. This quick swing gives him the most time possible to evaluate the pitch. You can see the feet initiating the rotation, as well as the firm front side ("power slant"). Video 1.
* Dustin Pedroia - 5'8", 160lb. He could fit in at the Pony Field. While he has a "big" swing, what is remarkable is his effort. Every time he steps on the field, in everything he does - max effort. He hits like Lincecum pitches. Look at the power slant. This is a longer ESPN video on him that is worth watching. Video 1.
* Price Fielder - One of the best HR hitters in the game. In particular, check out the force he gets off his front heel -- throwing his hips/shoulders open and back into the "power slant." Awesome power. Video 1.
* Albert Pujols - Has as much leg bend as anyone in the league. I don't think it is a coincidence that he also generates as much power as anyone. Ground force is directly translated into core torque and arm/bat speed. Look at the push-back he gets off his front leg to get torque. He makes it look effortless with arms, because they are just along for the ride. Video 1.
* Hanely Ramirez - While the big front step has us concerned about being more suceptible to off-speed stuff, it is amazing to see the kind of force you do in slow motion - it really gives you an idea of the amount torque he is generating. Video 1.