Launch Angle – Fad or Fashion?

 

This article is put together quickly and is just intended to help tell the story of some of those behind the launch angle fad or fashion. That is, some of those who have helped develop the hitting technique which has been around for quite some time but has only recently come out as not being heretical in its opposition to long standing hitting fundamentals.

 

“Launch angle” has become the latest buzz word in baseball that so often punctuates the dialogue of MLB telecasts. The concept is not new. That buzz words are and are a bit annoying during telecasts.

 

Launch angle measures the vertical direction of the ball coming off the bat. A launch angle of zero degrees would be a line drive with positive numbers indicating an upward ball flight and negative ones indicating a ball driven into the ground. Analysts have been able to pinpoint the range of 25-35 degrees as the sweet spot for home runs.

 

The Dodgers recently hired Robert Van Scoyoc as their new hitting coach replacing Turner Ward who moved on to take up the same position with the Cincinnati Reds. Van Scocyo is not the father of launch angle but he is a staunch disciple.

 

Perhaps his business partner, Craig Wallenbrock, is one of the founding fathers of a hitting approach that attempts to keep the ball in the air and off the ground.  At least he recognized long ago the difference for those hitters who did keep the ball in the air more often. Now 72, he had a short stint with the San Diego State baseball team in the late ’60s. He left to participate more actively in the life and beaches of the 60’s. It was not until several years later when his brother asked for help with hitting that Wallenbrock took the bat to ball thing seriously. He found he was good at it and has worked for many years as a hitting consultant with athletes and teams. He has been labeled, the “Oracle of Santa Clarita” by some.

 

“Craig is the godfather of the hitting revolution,” his partner Von Scoyoc says.

 

Outfielder Raúl Ibañez joined the Dodgers as a special assistant in 2016. He had been a student of  Wallenbrock’s and persuaded the Dodgers to hire his mentor as a consultant. After the regular season, while Los Angeles was in the playoffs, the club sent Chris Taylor to work with Wallenbrock and Van Scoyoc in Glendale, Arizona so he could be ready if needed in the play-offs. He continued to work with them over the winter and produced his magical season in 2017.

 

Wallenbrock likens the bat to a Samurai sword when a warrior is attacked by three. He identifies the “three warriors” in baseball as the fastball, slider and changeup. The “warrior” that gets to the hitter first is the fastball.

 

 “We have to be in position to fight him first,” Wallenbrock says, “and yet continue through to get the  other two.”

 

Justin Turner is one of those players whose career was rescued by a new hitting approach. To be fair, the new approach was accompanied by a whole new attitude supported by confidence and takes into consideration much more than  just an upswing.

 

Turner’s transformation started way back in 2013 when he was with the New York Mets and a teammate of outfielder Marlin Byrd. He was impressed by Byrd’s apparent knowledge of hitting and lamented about his own situation in which he felt he had good at bats with poor results.

 

Byrd invited Turner to spend the winter with him and his hitting guru, Doug Latta, who ran a facility in  Chatsworth, California  in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles.

 

Latta suggested an overhaul of his swing that spanned both mechanics and philosophy. Turner had always tried to keep his weight back and slap grounders. Latta encouraged him to lower his hands and transfer his body forward to launch the baseball.

 

“Before launch angle was a big deal,it was constant talk with Doug about getting the ball in the air,” Turner says. “I don’t think about east and west anymore. I think about north and south. I don’t care where it goes, as long as it goes up.”

 

When Turner finished his first session, Latta was more than a bit impressed with his hand speed.  “Does he know what an impact player he can be?” he asked Byrd. Within a month, Turner started to feel comfortable with the adjustment. He could begin to see himself as a slugger.

 

“I think the biggest component being missed is looking at all these result stats,” Latta said of air-ball revolution talk. “Basically, the proper swing mechanics will always [give] a hitter a longer swing path in the zone through the pitch. What that will allow for is for increase in exit velocity, as a hitter can square up more pitches, and, depending where contact is made, can change launch angle. [The process] is also predicated on a hitter’s setup, making the right move first, and importantly, timing… Poor mechanics and body movements compromise timing.”

 

In 2017 Max Muncy spent the entire season with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Shawn Wooten was the hitting coach who worked with Muncy as did hitting consultant Craig Wallenbrock. Together they gave Muncy a better timing mechanism with a small leg kick and a slight upturn to his swing changing his launch angle. The changes not only increased his bat speed but added lift to his swing. For at least one  season in MLB Muncy has been the recipient of the launch angle revolution.

 

Doug Latta warns against falling love with exit velocity.

 

“I love the idea of quantifying [the swing],” Latta said. “But if everyone is thinking about exit velocity, guys are going to start over swinging, which is going to create bad body movement and breakdowns, inefficient swings that are not going to be consistent at the major-league level.”

 

Those same analysts that have been able to pinpoint the range of 25-35 degrees as the sweet spot for home runs agree that  it must be paired with an exit velocity of 95 mph or greater. The exit velocity is crucial. At lower velocities, those fly balls become warning track or less outs.

 

Pitchers are not going to simply accept launch angle as a death knell and are already making adjustments to try to neutralize the growing threat. As evidenced in the World Series  pitchers are elevating  their fastball as a way of forcing hitters to swing down on the ball. So, what can be done to adjust to the pitcher’s adjustments?

 

“If it’s a four-seam pitcher who throws the ball higher in the strike zone, we’re going to work on hitting the ball a little lower that day because otherwise we’re going to have problems swinging and missing at it,” Van Scoyoc says. “If it’s a guy who sinks the ball, we’re going to work on hitting it higher. The pitcher is always going to dictate it.”

 

Launch angle – fad or fashion? I expect it is a bit of both, a fad for some and a fashion for others such as Justin Turner, Josh Donaldson, J.D. Martinez and Logan Morrison. One size does not fit all and it is most likely just one more step in the evolution of trying to master the most difficult task in all of professional sports. That is, using a round bat to hit a round ball hurled from 60’6” away and traveling at 90 mph while bending sideways, up or down.

Image compliments ofBaseball Fever

This article has 104 Comments

  1. DC is probably the most progressive thinker on this board. His acceptance of new ideas is astounding, but he’s not a sucker.

  2. As most here would surmise on coaches I have no clue whatsoever (which is no different from most Baseball subjects.) Let’s just hope they all do great.
    `
    As per news:
    `
    The great Jeff Passan chimes in on the catcher market:
    `
    An already-crowded catching market is growing even more saturated, as the Toronto Blue Jays have discussed trading Russell Martin and the Pittsburgh Pirates are open to dealing Francisco Cervelli, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Both are drawing interest from a number of teams. Martin has one year at $20M left on his deal. The Blue Jays are willing to pay down a significant amount of that, per sources. Cervelli is likewise in the final year of his contract, at $11.5M. Teams love his OBP and makeup, and Pirates have Elias Díaz to play every day. The free agent market is still unusually deep for catchers. Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Martín Maldonado, Robinson Chirinos, Evan Gattis, Matt Wieters, Devin Mesoraco, Jonathan Lucroy, among others. And that’s after Kurt Suzuki, Brian McCann and Jeff Mathis signed.
    `
    The sometimes reliable Jon Morosi reported on MLB Radio that trade talks between Dodgers and Indians involving Yasiel Puig and Corey Kluber are still very much on-going.

    1. Rosenthal says Patrick Corbin is in line to receive six (SIX! 6!) year offers. The Nationals and Yanks? I wouldn’t give myself a six-year deal if I pitched. Also says Yankees may stay out of the market this year with an eye on Arrenado (spelling?) for next….

      1. Can he live with the new limits on mound visits and not be committed (institutionally) or is there a pill for that?

  3. Mets and M’s are close (significant progress) to a deal sending Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to NY. I think one of the hangups is the Cano waiver of his no trade rights. The return has not been speculated yet. Things are starting to heat up…for some.

    1. I think I read somewhere that the Mets have NO payroll obligations after 2020. They can probably afford a big contract.

    2. Hey, any time you can trade your #1 and #2 prospects for a 36-year-old second baseman with a bad contract and a volatile commodity like a one-inning closer, you just have to do it.

  4. I am less interested in “launch angle” than I am with swing plane. The longer that the bat stays through the hitting plane, the more likely you are to make good contact. Uppercut swings lead to strikeouts and pop-ups.

    I am one of the world’s worst golfers. I remember starting out trying to uppercut the swing to get loft. I learned that if you hit the ball properly, loft will come (as the clubs are already lofted).

    Ted Williams believed in a swing plane with 12 degrees of loft. He reasoned that was the approximate angle that the ball came in (a 12 degree downward plane). This would give him the best chance to hit the ball hard. Williams believed that “What is most important, is that you hit consistently with authority. ” (from an article in the Washington Post on launch angle.) You want to maximize your swing plane and you want a quick bat, to generate bat speed and hit it hard.

    Williams taught:
    Hips before hands – keep the hands back, generate power through the lower body
    Be quick to the ball – choke up if necessary, generate bat speed and wait on the ball
    Hit it on the sweet spot
    Wait for a good pitch

    An exaggerated uppercut leads to heartache.

    I suggest you look at this website
    https://www.hitterish.com/single-post/Ted-Williams-Swing-Analysis
    They have some interesting GIFs of hitters. They have side-by-side of Aaron, Ruth, Williams and Barry Bonds. Very interesting.

    1. I would listen to anything Williams had to say about hitting. Few have his eyesight and, based on his military record, his fearlessness.

  5. That news about the Yankees with Arenado might be a negotiation tactic concerning Boras, and Machado.

    Especially after Rosenthal is talking about 6 year deals from the Yankees for Corbin.

    1. I think it is likely that a writer is matching Arenado with the Yankees because the Yankees would be in trouble talking about another team’s player.

    1. When healthy he is awesome. Dodgers have the pitching depth to take a chance on high risk, high reward free agent pitcher. Hopefully offer contains incentives and lower guarantees.

    2. I thought about Richards early on, and believe he is exactly what the Dodgers look at. Huge reward and minimal risk. I am sure the deal will be two years. His surgery was July 24 so he should be able to go to AZ at the end of the 2019 season, rebuild, and get ready for 2020 when the Dodgers lose Hill, Ryu, and Wood. Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the surgery. This seems like a no-brainer to me.

      1. What would his roster status with us be? Immediately put on the 60-day DL? I guess we wouldn’t need a roster spot for him.
        *
        That’s really a big part of the “Extra 2%”–the attention to roster spots and maximizing their utility.

        1. Once signed, he has to be on the 40 man until ST. Once the pitchers and catchers are due to report to ST, he can be placed on the 60 Day DL.

    3. Apparently the Padres are after Richards as well and he makes just as much sense for them as for us. He won’t pitch next year and by 2020 a lot of their prospects will be ready to go. Could lead to a bidding war. Lucky Garrett!

  6. Fly on the wall, I’d love to know what the organization thinks of Alex Verdugo. It seems there are a wide range of options from:

    A. Everyday RF for many years, necessitating trade of Puig
    B. Potential corner starter.
    C. LF platoon partner
    D. Major league depth piece
    E. Just another sucker on the vine
    *
    I feel like we don’t know what the F.O. thinks of him.

    1. I’ve had my doubts before. And still, if asked to really self-examine, I think I’d be more upset if we traded Ruiz, Lux, or May than him. Someone here compared him to Jason Heyward and I’m liking that comp. I think he at least deserves an honest chance at a starting job.

  7. Before Wallenbrock/Latta/Scoyoc, many of us older fans remember there was Charlie Lau & Walt Hriniak who were also considered two of the best hitting gurus around. I used Charlie Lau’s philosophy to teach my son and LL hitters. I do believe that his way is best at teaching hand/eye coordination as it relates to baseball. It may not be the best as they mature, but it is a foundation to fall back on.
    .
    Lau developed a list of “Absolutes” about hitting, which included:
    • A balanced, workable stance
    • Rhythm and movement in the stance (as opposed to standing still)
    • A good weight shift from a firm rigid backside to a firm rigid frontside
    • Striding with the front toe closed
    • Having the bat in the launching position as soon as the front foot touches down
    • Making the stride a positive, aggressive motion toward the pitcher
    • A tension-free swing
    • Hitting through the ball
    • Hitting the ball where it is pitched, rather than trying to direct it
    .
    Walt Hriniak became a Charlie Lau disciple and explained his theory for hitting as basically: Head down on the ball at all times. When beginning the swing, drop the hands so the bat is level with the strike zone. Follow through on the swing, finishing with hands high and one hand on the bat for increased speed. All the while, focus on hitting the ball up the middle.
    .
    “You keep your head down on the baseball,” per Hriniak. “There’s got to be some movement in your stance. There’s got to be some extension. There’s got to be some balance. There’s a lot of things involved, but those three or four are the most important.”
    .
    The number of great baseball hitters who followed the tutelage of Lau and Hriniak are some of the best bat to ball hitters this great game has ever seen: Lau – George Brett, Hal McRae, Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines; Hriniak – Carl Yastremski, Wade Boggs, Dewey Evans, Don Baylor. Why wouldn’t batters want to emulate George Brett and Wade Boggs?
    .
    Below I have linked a 1990 article from the Sun Sentinel about the Hriniak hitting philosophy. It does explain the Hriniak methodology, but to me, more importantly it shows that you cannot simply have a one swing fits all approach. A couple of the more poignant points for me were:
    .

    After Hriniak changed Mike Greenwall’s swing, and he had a down year, Greenwell did some thinking. He came to spring training and told then- manager John McNamara and (GM Lou) Gorman that he was going back to his old style, drawing the wrath of Red Sox players and Hriniak devotees Don Baylor and Dewey Evans.
    “My head was not coming off the ball, and that’s not my style,” Greenwell said. “Walt wanted the head down at all times. That was the basic difference. I just got lost in (the Hriniak style). You can only break hitting down to so many different points before you create bad habits. I agree with him on most points of hitting, but (his style) is not for everyone.
    “I had to remember what got me here. Taking his advice can make you a better hitter, but you can’t change your style. It’s too easy to get caught up in it, but you can’t get away from your God-given abilities.
    “Wade Boggs is an inside-out hitter. Me, I’m a dead-pull hitter. You can’t try to make Wade Boggs hit like Mike Greenwell or make Mike Greenwell hit like Wade Boggs.”
    .
    “There’s your problem right there, too many different ideas,” said Vada Pinson, the Detroit Tigers’ respected hitting instructor. “My feeling is that you don’t teach on the major league level. I taught more in the minor leagues. Up here, the styles are established.”

    .
    .
    Ted Williams was hugely opposed to Hriniak’s style. Williams and his followers felt that Hriniak robbed his hitters of extra-base power by teaching them to hit the ball up the middle, “swing down on the ball”, or to take the upper hand off the bat at the end of their swing—which may have been oversimplifications of Hriniak’s philosophies.
    .
    “I don’t have a problem with Ted Williams”, Hriniak told Yankee Magazine in 1986. “He teaches his way, and I teach mine. I don’t teach a level swing, a downward swing, or an uppercut swing. Hitters are all different, so I teach all three … You don’t have to hit my way, you don’t have to hit his way. Just make up your minds. Don’t keep changing lanes. You can’t hit when you’re confused.”
    ..
    That is my concern with Scoyoc. He knows one way. Is he going to make Verdugo a launch angle hitter, or let him stay true to his natural style? Or is he going to try to change Alex when he goes into a slump (as they all do)? That is how he “teaches”, but that is not how you coach.
    .
    Some of you may get tired of me using my son in some of these discussions, but I know what he has gone through to get his trip to Show and an eventual WS ring. While my son learned the Charlie Lau way, as he grew his swing adapted and he was more of a Ted Williams advocate than Charlie Lau/Walt Hriniak. It was more natural for him. When he got to college he soon got a reputation as a power hitting 3B with a long swing through the zone. As a freshman he had a lot of early success. He was at a tournament in CS Fresno and in the championship game he came up with two outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd. Fresno brought in one of their best pitchers (I believe Jared Fernandez) to face my son and his rep as a pull happy fly ball hitter especially with balls up in the zone. This RHP had a monster slider, a pitch that my son had never really seen thrown well. Yes, he proceeded to strike out, and the Big West Conference got the news. My son was devastated after that game, but John Savage (now UCLA Head Coach), put his arm around his shoulder and said let’s go back home and learn how to hit that slider. They never changed his natural swing, although the head coach tried. Instead he went back to some of his Charlie Lau fundamentals. He knew his swing. He was still a dead pull hitter, but when he took a slider low and away and hit the scoreboard in RF, he knew he could hit a good slider. He went on to become an All American and hit 30 HRs his senior year in college and struck out 45 times in 300 PA (15%). He would have been a consensus AA, but there was another 3B who garnered his share of AA awards…Troy Glaus.
    .
    https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1990-08-06-9002070593-story.html

    1. Growing up I was a big Hriniak guy. My favorite hitters were George Brett and later Will Clark. But once Ken Griffey came around I changed my stance a bit to imitate him. I’m naturally a right-handed hitter but I taught myself to hit left-handed and, even though I sacrificed some power from that side, am a much better hitter batting left. I don’t understand why all players don’t switch-hit. It’s just hitting a backhand in tennis. As a side note, I play ping-pong both-handed quite well. (BTW, what Venditte does/did is just totally unimaginable to me.)

    2. AC

      I think your concerns are justified.

      I don’t think we have seen a lot of players that could do this consistently, let alone, be able to adjust in certain situations, in games.

      I think your right that players should already have their swing’s down, when they come to spring training.

      It seems to me, it would be easier to just learn to go the other way, and beat the shifts.

      Because ultimately, pitchers are are dictating what pitches a hitter is going to get.

      We all know here, that you are coming from the right place, when you have concerns.

  8. Regardless of technique, a hitter has to be relaxed and confident to do well. A hitting coach has to find the stroke that first generates the contact rate that produces confidence. Stronger players can swing heavier bats without defaulting to a long swing.
    .
    I don’t think Verdugo will be made into something he can’t physically do. Greg Brock was a natural line drive hitter that was able to hit home runs in the minor leagues. The Dodgers tried to make him a home run hitter and they and Brock failed.
    .
    If the Dodgers are willing to trade Puig to Cleveland for Kluber then it is likely they believe Verdugo is ready for RF. If Verdugo has enough bat control to hit in a way that keeps teams from employing the shift against him, there is less need to hit fly balls. Buckner and Verdugo had/have warning track power.

    1. My 2nd of 3 #22 jerseys, Buckner (Podres and now Kershaw), won a batting championship. But to me even more impressive, in 1980 when he won the batting championship he struck out 18 times in 615 PA. The most he ever struck out was 40 times in 1986 as a 36 year old. In his 22 year career he struck out 453 times (walked 450) in 10,037 PA. That is a little over 2 years for Chris Davis (and perhaps for DJ Peters if (when) he makes it).
      .
      Those bat to ball skills do not exist today. I do not want to get Mark’s ire up by saying that those bat to ball skills are not valued, but where are they?

      1. I don’t care about that… Bill Buckner was once my favorite player. After tearing up his ankle, he wass never the same. I loved BB. I too, didlike strikeouts and believe the Dodgers will try anmd lower them… especially Taylors. In my opinion Peters and Kendall are not even prospects!

  9. Turner the center of this article, just doesn’t try to hit balls out, he also goes the opposite way.

    He is also a very good off speed hitter, and he can get key hits, in high leverage situations.

    I can’t say that about most of the other players on this team, and that is because most players are not as talented, as Turner.

    Corey is just the opposite when it comes to this stuff, and he is a very good hitter, in high leverage situations.

  10. I think Friedman needs to bust out with a four-team trade featuring us, Cleveland, Seattle, & the Mets. I would go home and pop some popcorn and just read team blog comments the rest of the week.

  11. Anybody know if there are any catchers who could potentially be non-tendered by tomorrow’s deadline?

  12. I wouldn’t characterize Verdugo as having warning track power. Last year he hit 11 HRs as a 22 year old, and is likely to gain more power as he matures. In fact, if memory serves, his first HR with the Dodgers was to the opposite field. I don’t think of Verdugo as being a power hitter, but I do see him as being a guy who will produce a lot of doubles, and who might over time develop into a guy who hits about 20 HRs.

    I still would like the Dodgers to sign LeMahieu, but I know there are other shorter term alternatives. Also, if he is signed, I will benefit from having become adept at spelling his name, given all the practice I’ve had typing it,

    1. i agree. in fact, there was a time the knock on bellinger was his power. when he was lower down, sure, but still. i’d put verdugo somewhere between loney & bellinger [or between hollandsworth & joc].

      1. hollandsworth’s career high was 19 HR and he ended his career with 98
        *
        would you take over/under on those numbers for verdugo?

  13. Puig & Alvarez for Kluber sounds deceptively in our favor. Have to think there’d be more pieces involved. Saw this on another blog.

    1. here are a couple other proposals:
      *
      puig, stripling, & rios/beaty for kluber
      or
      puig, stripling, rios, alvarez, smith, & toles for kluber & gomes
      *
      gomes here being treated like a poor man’s realmuto
      *
      btw, i like kluber plenty. i just think he’s nothing without some warning signs. i’m also not sure how much we need to upgrade our starting pitching. but he’d be cool to add no doubt.

  14. Anyone here a Bauer fan? He’s pitched more innings the last two years (combined) than any Dodger starter. His ERA+ and FIP numbers last year were better than any Dodger starter in 2017 or 2018. For anyone who has the interest and time, here’s a link to an interview he did on MLB this morning. Even went so far as to say that the Indians would be better off trading Kluber this year and him next year based on contract surplus values.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCOshzjsr14

  15. I hope it’s Kluber that they are in on and not Bauer. Bauer seems like a real tool/headcase. He’s been on twitter today telling fans that he’s better than Kluber.

  16. wonder if Dodgers are even discussing contract terms with any of the ten potential arbitration cases

    1. They may be, but they do not need to be. They just have to offer a contract. If they sign, okay, but most, if not all, will not. Both sides wants to see what the other is going to exchange come January. That is when you will see the negotiations begin in earnest.

    1. It’s basically a one year (2020) $15MM guaranteed contract. $7.5MM AAV hit. It is a lot, and probably more than the Dodgers were willing to offer, especially with where they are with the CBT threshold. Pads do not have that problem. The Pads will be the Dodgers top competition in 2020, when all of their other top prospects come aboard. Tatis Jr., Paddack, Espinoza, Quantrill,,…Lauer & Lucchesi will have another year. Urias and Mejia will be in their 2nd year. They are going to be a solid team in 2020.

    2. Sounds like the Dodgers and Richards were getting real close and then SD swooped in at the end and got him.

  17. The Dodger offensive strength is mostly from the lefty swingers which includes Puig if you will. The next players up are Verdugo, Toles, and Lux and all lefty bats. Taylor and Hernandez and Barnes are not strong enough to help Turner. Machado is gone.
    .
    Who will compliment Bellinger, Seager, Pederson, Verdugo, Puig, Muncy, Toles, from the right side other than Turner? Kemp? Maybe.
    .
    They need a righty bat at either catcher or second base or both. They have lots of help coming for catcher but the help at second base is a lefty hitter in Lux. Therefore, I will come back to trading for Gleyber Torres and will offer Lux and Muncy. The Yankees need infielders and can always use lefty bats given the right field foul line. Torres is not a plus defensive infielder. Muncy might fill in for him this year and Lux next year when Muncy would move to first base which is not a strength for the Yankees.
    .
    Muncy and Lux should be enough but if Hill is also needed to get the yanks to talk, that could be part of the conversation.

    1. You need to convince Brian Cashman, because he is on record saying that Gleybar Torres is untouchable. But you can keep offering.

    2. Torres is a Future MVP Candidate.

      It would take Muncy, Lux and Bellinger to even get Cashman to consider it. I would not…

  18. Evidently Friedman just drove up the price for Richards.

    “Don’t let your competition buy too cheap.”

  19. Just got our power back. It has been out for about nine hours. Something happened to a transmission line from New Brunswick feeding into Nova Scotia.
    .
    I am a proponent of the Yogi Berra style of hitting: “I see the ball and I hit it.”
    .
    I am not in love with launch angle, not by a long shot. I love station to station baseball, hit and run, opposite field hitting and I am really old school because I think all types of bunts can play a significant part in an offense. To me a sac bunt is not a wasted out because it more often than not can advance a runner into scoring position. It does a much better job than a K or a DP. How about the bunt to beat the shift?
    .
    I am not a fan of solo homers as an offense and I get frustrated with our hitting with RISP and with two outs. For a remedy to that see Boston Red Sox.
    .
    I am not espousing an all out attack with launch angle as the standard bearer. I present the information just as information as I learned about it and am willing to see what Van Scoyoc can do. Could it get any worse than some of our (I say “our” as a definite homer) lack of success for the past two years. We won no rings when a few significant hits could have turned the tide in our favor.
    .
    Having said that, why not try a different kind of hitting coach? Why assume he is a one trick pony? The info I read on him/them is that they do like the ball hit in the air as there are three outfielders with a wide expanse to cover and five infielders (pitcher included) with a much smaller area to cover. And yes, for guys who can adapt and have the exit velocity doubles and home runs are an objective. For all others it is to put the ball into the open areas of the outfield. Easier said than done but isn’t everything in baseball easier said than done?
    .
    Van Scoyoc likes fast balls hit to the opposite field and off speed stuff pulled. That sounds reasonable to me.
    .
    They want hitters to keep their bat “on plane” in the hitting zone for as long as possible, creating swings that are capable of handling a variety of pitches. But they also believe every hitter is unique – some are taller, some have shorter arms, some have better vision than others – and the coaches say they believe in discovering the most effective swing, not producing cookie-cutter actions for everyone.
    .
    I am not defending Van Scoyoc but I don’t believe he advocates one size fits all as no hitting coach should. “The process is also predicated on a hitter’s setup, making the right move first, and importantly, timing. Poor mechanics and body movements compromise timing.” Wasn’t helping Justin Turner with his timing mechanism maybe more important that changing his launch angle? What good is the angle without the timing?
    .
    I would submit that one who knows something about the physics of hitting and the physiology of the hitter can help the hitter with his mechanics. Concern is that the hitters have to buy into whatever Van Scoyoc has to offer. If they don’t then that is on them just as it is when anyone tries to coach them. They can resist and continue to pop the ball up, not advance runners, K, lead the league in LOB ball, not hit with two out. That is an option or they can try to improve on that.
    .
    Why would a hitting coach mess with success? A couple of players to represent the others in their categories.
    .
    Some players with relatively high exit velocity succeed by hitting line drives instead of fly balls. For example, Colorado’s D.J. LeMahieu has about the same exit velocity as the Mets’ Michael Conforto, but hits many more line drives and ground balls than fly balls.
    .
    LeMahieu is even more aggressive about putting balls in play between 0 and 20 degrees, and has many more of them fall in for hits. LeMahieu’s batting average on those balls in play is well above the league average.
    .
    Conversely, low launch angles tend to be the domain of quick, slap-hitting middle infielders who generate lots of ground balls. Dee Gordon, for example, was toward the low end of the spectrum with an average launch angle of 2.9 degrees. Certainly it would be folly to expect Dee to loft fly balls. They would be easy outs. What if his launch angle could be increased just enough to hit more line drives? How many more doubles would he have?
    .
    I am not really the progressive thinker Mark suggests I am. I long for much of the good old days but that may just be that my youth and middle age have long gone by. If we had a fist full of rings I would say no to the hiring of Robert Van Scoyoc. We don’t so I am all in on seeing what he can do. Youth is not an issue. It is refreshing. A different overall approach is not all that scary. It too is refreshing.
    .
    As a number have said, let’s just wait and see. I have enough confidence in Andrew Friedman and his support crew to know that if not successful, this will be just another short term experiment. If not, Go Dodgers.

    1. DC, I am not only on wait and see, but wait/see/hope/pray. As I stated, as a theory I have no objection to what Van Scoyoc seemingly espouses. He may say all the right things about not being a one size fits all approach, but to the best of my knowledge it is all conjecture and rhetoric because he has never done it. Again to the best of my knowledge, he has never coached a team of 25 players with 25 different approaches AND egos. He may very well be an outstanding hitting instructor. If so, then why didn’t he start out as a minor league hitting instructor (not strategist) to see what he can do rather than handing him the ML hitting coach job?
      .
      I can certainly see how some may not make a distinction between instructor and coach, but I absolutely believe there is a difference. Rick Honeycutt is a great example. He is not going to tear down a pitcher and rebuild him. He is going to look at what works for what hitters, make a slight mechanical change to get the pitcher back on track, and “recommend” that a pitcher abandon a pitch in favor of increasing a pitch that has been more successful. He looks at literally hundreds of hours of film. It is not a coincidence that Dodger pitchers are normally at the top of NL and MLB pitching stats, and quite often with a different group of pitchers. He doesn’t “mess” with pitchers that do not want the help (see Kershaw). Many do not like Honey (fans and pitchers), but to deny that overall he has been successful at determining game strategy with his pitchers is naive.
      .
      Maybe Van Scoyoc will take that approach, but he has never done it. Maybe he is not a one trick pony, but he does not have the resume to prove otherwise. However, I do agree that Andrew does not make decisions hastily, or in a vacuum, or without hours & hours of due diligence. I have no argument that Andrew is convinced that Van Scoyoc is the right choice. But since Van Scoyoc has no track record of working with a diverse group of hitters, I can only assume that Andrew is absolutely convinced that the launch angle approach is the one he wants to hang his hat on. And since he does believe that theory to be true (IMO), he chose an instructor who is considered at the forefront of that methodology. That is why I am wait/see/hope/pray that he is right, he will be able to get the Dodgers do learn how to hit wRISP, and other situational hitting. Otherwise it is going to be a long year. The Dodgers’ window opportunity for a WS championship is still open, but it is closing faster than many want to believe.

  20. Great take DC…Stole my thunder..
    LeM at @2B and see if we get a RISP specialist from the MLB ranks… Maybe a Bunting specialist also..
    Makes me yearn for Junior Gilliam…

      1. What a great article about a great man and player! We were fortunate to have been able to watch these players, Gilliam, Hodges, Snider, Koufax, Tommy Davis, and on and on, play at their prime weren’t we? To me, Jim Gilliam would fit into our line-up perfectly today. We desperately need a fundamentally sound table setter like him. Truly an underrated player and man. I could say the same for many of the others as well!
        .
        I have so many fond memories of going to bed with my transistor under my pillow listening to Vinnie and Jerry talk about these players. It was as if though they were part of the family. I would goose bumps whenever I would hear Vinnie say”It’s high drive to deep right field, it’s a way back, she is gone!” Life and baseball, seemed so simple then.

  21. Looks like the Dodgers are going to lose another minor league coach. Termel Sledge has been the AA hitting coach for three years. He is now heavily rumored to be moving to the Cubs as their ML Assistant hitting coach.

  22. While it is true that Robert Van Scoyoc has not coached 25 players, it is also true that Alex Cora had never managed a major league team. Cora made some mistakes and Van Scoyoc likely will also. It’s where they end up that counts.

  23. Hearing all kinds of noise on MLB on Kluber for Puig and possibly Wood and other guys. I know alot of you guys are Puig haters, but I would move Joc over Yasiel. Plus, Kluber is 33 friggin years old with some arm issues. This trade may come back on us. Are we trading for past performance?

    1. The reason Puig is seemingly involved is because Cleveland needs a RH hitting OF, since their two other potential starters are LHH. They do not need or want Joc.

      1. BTW I am not a Puig hater or lover. I am totally indifferent. He is not a candidate for extension, so if the Dodgers can get a two time CY winner RHSP to sit with Buehler and Kershaw at the top of the rotation, I am in. Kluber won the CY award in 2017 so a lot more recent than Clayton, and he was #3 in 2018.

  24. There is no longer any question in my mind that the Mets and Brodie Van Wagenen are going for it in 2019. This apparent imminent trade between the Mets and M’s makes no sense to me from the Mets standpoint, unless they are going for it in 2019. Rumor – From Mariners – Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz; From Mets – 19-year-old CF Jarred Kelenic (2018 1st Round pick – #6 overall), 23 year old RHSP Justin Dunn (2016 1st round pick #19 overall), starting 2B 27 year old Jeff McNeil, 33 year old RHRP Anthony Swarzak, and 32 year old RF Jay Bruce.
    .
    It makes no sense to me from the Mets position. Robinson Cano may be a better choice for 2019 (maybe), and Edwin Diaz is a budding superstar closer, and both should help. But losing Jeff McNeil is silly as he was outstanding last year at 2B. Plus losing their #3 & #4 prospect, as well as a big LH hitting OF, a serviceable RHRP, and assuming the Cano contract is lost on me. If they wanted to improve their bullpen, they could have signed Kimbrel and kept McNeil and the others AND saved $$$. It does not address the Mets true needs at catcher, 1B, and now OF. With Cespedes out at least until July, their 40 man OF consists of Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, and Brandon Nimmo. They do not have one top 30 OF prospect ready for 2019, meaning Tim Tebow has a shot and they are still short. And now they are older and less reliable at 2B.
    .
    OTOH, Seattle did not need a closer as far away from contention as they are. They improved in the long term at 2B. Jay Bruce gives then options for OF, IB (with RHH Ryon Healy) and DH when Gamel is inserted into the lineup, and the Mets #3 and #4 prospects (both MLB Top 100 prospects). Jarred Kelenic was arguably the best HS bat in last year’s draft.
    .
    Contract wise, Seattle lost a five year $120MM remaining contract for a 36 year old 2B, and assumed a two year $26MM contract for a 32 year old OF.

    On paper this looks like all Seattle. BIG!! Maybe that’s why you do not want people without experience doing a job that may be too big for them. But I guess it should be a wait and see on Van Wagenen also??

        1. Almost every time I saw Jeff McNeil late last season, he was
          an impact guy, a generator. Not easy to find those.

  25. AC,

    Vada Pinson! I hadn’t heard that name in a long time.

    I grew up watching Vada, Frank Robinson, Leo Cardenas, Gordy Coleman, Johnny Edwards, Deron Johnson and some hotshot named Rose.

    1. A good WS team in 61, but then a decade of Dodgers, Giants, and Cardinals monopolized the 60’s. But the Big Red Machine sure got hot in the 70’s. I always liked Gordy Coleman.

      1. We lived about and hours and a half away from Crosley Field, then Riverfront Stadium… My dad was Reds fan and him and I argued about the Reds and Dodgers all the time. He called the Dodger pitchers “Kornfax” and “Dogsdale.” He died when I was 42. I still miss those talks.

  26. To me it sounds like the Dodgers have to trade Puig, Wood, Alvarez and Smith or Wong to get Kluber… maybe Gomes too?

    1. That would make sense if Gomes is included. I think it is just about what I projected last week or so. I think I included Alexander instead of Alvarez, and Farmer instead of Wong. I was never in favor of including Smith. I thought that Puig and Wood made way too much sense for Cleveland.
      .
      I have no objection to this deal, but I still believe that the Dodgers are going to need a RH bat. Or your MVP candidate is going to need to go off.

      1. What doesn’t make sense for Cleveland is that Puig has only 1-yr left. Seems to me it may be the Dodgers pushing Puig to make the money work if they aren’t committed to extending him. I would rather see the Dodger give Puig a moderate extension, sign Harper, and move Joc, Verdugo, Alvarez, and Wood, but it’s not my money.

        1. I am not saying that Cleveland will do the deal. Morosi doesn’t sound too optimistic, but then again what do any of those guys really know. But what Cleveland does not need is LHH OF with Leonys Martin, Bradley Zimmer, and Tyler Naquin, all LHH, penciled to start. The teams may be trying too hard to put a square peg into a round hole. They do need a RH OF and a LH starting pitcher.

      2. Who’s my MVP Candidate this year?

        You don’t mean Kemp, do you?

        I don’t think he has another one in him… unless Van Scoyoc can boost him to hit 75 HR! 😉

    1. They aren’t as good without Victor, but they can come back… and do….

      Especially against second tier teams. 😉

  27. Imagine what they are with Victor Oladipo.

    We have Pacers Season Tickets and they are fun to watch.

    I may have to get Colts tickets back next year. We are doing the water treatment at Andrew Luck’s new home. He lives (will live) about a mile from me.

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