In the comments of my post on spring training stats, Pablo requested some .gifs showing the differences in Brown’s swing over the past few years. I grabbed a .gif of Brown homering off of Justin Verlander in 2011, and of Brown homering off of Zach Nuding, which you can see after the jump.
First thought: wow, camera technology sure has changed in a couple years.
Let’s break the swing down. Here is a comparison of how he prepared for each pitch:
Brown’s stance is noticeably more closed now, and his front foot lift is more direct. His hands move less on load and are closer to his body.
Brown’s hands travel a much smaller distance. It is hard to tell from the camera angle in the 2012 .gif, but the timing between his front foot landing and contact with the baseball is shorter. Due to the closed stance, he no longer “bails” towards right field.
The 2010 .gif may look uncomfortable, but it has more to do with the location of the pitches: Verlander’s was quite a bit more inside than Nuding’s. For that reason, comparisons here are more difficult, but Brown’s swing does look more level and controlled now. He now finishes with better posture; in 2010, he popped up like a compressed coil.
Me, though, I’m just some schlub who is playing “spot the differences”. Let’s get some input from a real expert.
“I came in early and we started talking,” Joyner said. “I just asked him to try a couple of things and he locked it right in.”
The changes were to Brown’s hands, specifically, how he gripped the bat. At times, Brown would wrap his hands and wrists around the bat.
“We straightened his hands out a little bit, allowing his wrists to cock,” Joyner said. “He’s a big boy. He looks great. We want to take advantage of that size and leverage. That’s one of the assets that Ryan Howard has. And he uses it. He has a lot of leverage. He stays behind it.”
It is difficult to infer grip from the .gifs, but it does make a lot of sense. Hopefully, by the time spring training ends, Brown will have figured out mechanics that are both comfortable and maximize his effectiveness at the plate.