By now, we’ve all heard about what Washington Nationals leftfielder Bryce Harper did with the stick in the Nats’ Opening Day win over the Miami Marlins. In his age 20 season, Harper is looking to embark on a journey that has many prognosticating him doing things not seen frequently in the game.
A tweet from District Sports Page provided some additional insight on Harper’s swing, and got me thinking about Harper’s hitting approach:
Here’s a picture of what Dave Nichols and the rest of the DSP gang were talking about (courtesy of Google Images):
Harper has a very pronounced weight shift from his back leg to his front leg as he proceeds through his swing to contact; his swing has such a violent translation of torque and power through the hitting zone, it results in this exaggerated back leg lift, making for a one of a kind hitter.
Or does it?
While we have many more years to enjoy and argue over the career merits of Harper as possibly one of the best power hitters of the game, his swing mechanics have been seen before; however, much like his age 19 season, it hasn’t been seen too often, which makes it all the more special and interesting to watch unfold.
My immediate thought?
The Big Hurt. Here’s a pic to confirm- the angle is a bit different compared to the Harper photo, but it does the trick:
Thomas, a 2 time AL MVP, and career long menace to opponent pitching, also had a very pronounced weight transfer to his front leg, resulting in a jaw dropping amount of power, as his career 521 home runs and .974 OPS can attest. A disciple of former hitting coach Walt Hriniak‘s approach to hitting, much was made of the ‘front foot’, Hrinak inspired mechanics that Thomas made his own, but few others could replicate.
It will be interesting to see how far Harper can take his unorthodox hitting mechanics, and how much success can be obtained with them. While many would believe that this front foot approach would make a hitter susceptible to offspeed pitches, if Harper’s two HR’s off of Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco are any indication- both were hit off of offspeed offerings – he has made the proper adjustments to make him fall victim to offspeed and breaking pitches less frequently in 2013 than he did in 2012, using these hitting mechanics.
However you care to look at his start to 2013, be it the hitting fireworks or approach, Bryce Harper has a leg up on the competition, both figuratively and literally.