Control

Having Speed, Quickness and Power means very little unless you can put the bat on the ball. Control directly correlates with the path, angle and plane of the swing and is a large determinant of ball flight and ball contact point. There are three parts to the overall Speed metric: Approach Angle, Hand Cast Distance and Distance In The Zone.

The Science Behind It

Approach Angle is the angle/direction of your swing plane just prior to, and at the moment of impact.

What It Means For Hitters

When evaluating and analyzing Approach Angle please note that a swing that is “on plane” will result in a slightly positive Approach Angle.

While the optimal Approach Angle is dependent on the type of pitch, it typically needs to be between +5° degrees and +15° degrees in order to hit a hard line drive and between +20° degrees and +35° degrees in order to hit a home run.

A negative Approach Angle is the result of a ‘chop’ type swing and usually leads to ground balls.

What It Means For Coaches

According to Dr. Alan Nathan’s research, the optimum launch angle of a home run is between +20° and +35° degrees. In order to achieve this goal, the batter must swing below the path of the incoming pitch, with the bat moving upwards in order to get a positive approach angle. This will ultimately lead to the desired results of the optimum launch angle for a home run.

DK Pro Tip

Data from the 2015 MLB season shows that batters hit the most home runs (1,407) with a launch angle between +25° and +29° degrees and had the highest batting average (.775) with a launch angle between +10° and +14° degrees. In order to achieve these results, batters must have a very positive (home run) or slightly positive  (line drive) Approach Angle right before and at impact.

The Science Behind It

Hand Cast Distance measures how far the hands move – in a lateral direction – away from the player’s load position at the start of the swing, to the point where the hands are at impact.

What It Means For Hitters

Hand Cast Distance can be the result of a true hand cast away from the body, or because of a shoulder turn during the load process.

A larger Hand Cast Distance indicates an inefficient hand path to the ball and can cause a decrease in power metrics. Understanding this number will help the player create an efficient path with the hands to the ball.

What It Means For Coaches

Hand Cast Distance allows coaches and players to quantify if a player is staying inside the ball, swinging with his ‘hands back’ and keeping the bat in the best possible position – over the back shoulder – before uncoiling the hands and the bat toward the pitch.

DK Pro Tip

Having a large amount of Hand Cast Distance makes it difficult for a batter to hit the fastball, and/or adjust to hitting balls that occupy the middle or inside part of the plate.

In an ideal swing that results in a minimal amount of hand cast, the hands stay close to the shoulder, with the hands and barrel staying inside the baseball before the barrel gets on plane with the path of the pitch.

The Science Behind It

Distance In The Zone measures the length of the hitting zone along a line toward the pitcher. It is determined by the region ‘swept’ by the bat.

What It Means For Hitters

A longer hitting zone means a greater opportunity for the bat to make contact with the ball and thus, gives the batter a better opportunity to put the ball in fair territory (assuming square contact is made).

What It Means For Coaches

Distance In The Zone is the region (designated as the blue area in the 3D rendering) in which a batter can make square contact with a pitch and hit a fair ball (think of the bat at a 45 degree acute angle, a 90 degree angle and a 45 degree obtuse angle, relative to the dimensions of the field of play).

The longer the batter’s hitting zone, the better chance one has at making contact with the pitch.

DK Pro Tip

A batter who can maintain an elite Distance In The Zone score has a greater opportunity to produce a higher contact rate and put more balls into play.

Moreover, having a swing that maintains a good Distance In The Zone is also more forgiving for small errors in timing, thus resulting in more balls in play.