Long Reed: Applying Ken Griffey Jr.’s Strengths to Buddy Reed’s Swing

PITTSBURGH – As the No. 16 overall projected draft pick in the upcoming MLB Draft, Florida Gator outfielder Buddy Reed has earned the reputation among scouts as one of the best all-around athletes in the class with the chance to be a dynamic performer on both sides of the ball.

But ultimately, the final line on Reed speaks loudest – “how much he hits will ultimately determine his stock.”

The two main critiques scouts have about Reed is that he lacks power and consistency from the left side of the plate. His bat needs the most work, while his setup and approach are inconsistent. Reed has strength, though his lack of extension from the left side could keep him from showing any power that way.

Today we will show you how Reed can gain that power and consistency by analyzing Griffey Jr.’s swing and applying those strengths to Reed’s own move.

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Reed starts from an open position with his feet set wide. His front foot is pulled back and his hands are set slightly higher than that of Griffey. So far, so good – this is Reed’s personal style and nothing needs to change.

As Reed goes into his negative move, he initiates a little toe tap and brings his body closer together into a more narrow position that is more similar to where Griffey is with his swing.

At this point, let’s bring our focus to the lead arm and see how this could explain Reed’s lack of separation and power, relative to what Griffey could generate.

We can see here that Reed and Griffey each have very similar positions and lead arm flexion.

The bat is held over the back shoulder and there is a little bit more counter rotation with Reed than Griffey at this point in the swing. The angle of the hands for both players is the same, with Griffey having his hands set slightly lower.

From here, though, we are going to see Griffey add sufficient width to his swing – a very crucial part to understand.

In order to create separation a little bit of slack needs to be taken out of the front arm, and the hands need to be deep enough behind the batter. This will create the desired separation.

As we take a look at Reed in the video clip below, his hands get closer to back shoulder while also increasing his lead arm flexion. Reed’s elbow and hands are still really tight and close to the body.

With Griffey we see the opposite.

As he starts his move forward and strides his lead arm gains extension¹

In order to combat the issue of hands moving forward + too much lead arm flexion, Reed should keep his hands back as he strides forward after beginning his negative move (as opposed to the hands coming with him as he strides).

When we look at Griffey stride, the hands stay in the same position they were before he starts to move out.

That is what creates the separation and torque – twisting a force in the opposite direction – as the lower half starts to go, the upper half resists and his hands stay deep as he ‘steps away from his hands’

Ultimately, with this ‘fix’ to his swing, Reed could gain more power by creating more separation with his swing.

Now, let’s move to the intent and direction of Reed’s swing path.

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When Reed commits to the pitch we see his hands immediately move away from his shoulder – they attack the ball with the barrel going very steeply down at contact.

What we see from Griffey is his hands are still very close to the shoulder – he didn’t push them away like Reed – and as he turns, we are going to see the barrel take a very different path. Griffey’s barrel is behind him before it starts to flatten as it swings up and on plane.

Griffey did not consider himself a home run hitter – he considered himself a line drive hitter that hit home runs. One can attribute this to Griffey being so consistently on plane with he incoming path of the pitch²

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To recap…

  1. In order to create separation a little bit of slack needs to be taken out of the front arm, and the hands need to be deep enough behind the batter. This will create the desired separation.
  2. In order to combat the issue of hands moving forward + too much lead arm flexion, Reed should keep his hands back as he strides forward after beginning his negative move (as opposed to the hands coming with him as he strides).
  3. When we look at Griffey stride, the hands stay in the same position they were before he starts to move out.
  4. That is what creates the separation and torque – twisting a force in the opposite direction – as the lower half starts to go, the upper half resists and his hands stay deep as he ‘steps away from his hands’.
  5. Ultimately, with this ‘fix’ to his swing, Reed could gain more power by creating more separation with his swing.
  6. When Reed commits to the pitch we see his hands immediately move away from his shoulder – they attack the ball with the barrel going very steeply down at contact.
  7. What we see from Griffey is his hands are still very close to the shoulder – he didn’t push them away like Reed – and as he turns, we are going to see the barrel take a very different path. Griffey’s barrel is behind him before it starts to flatten as it swings up and on plane.
  8. Full video analysis from Coach Jeff Leach

#DKBaseball

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Footnotes

1) From Coach Jeff Leach, “Let me preface this with people who are going to say, “You want arm bar?” That’s not what I am after. I am after sufficient width. Players will start with their hands deeper – little bit further back and behind the rear shoulder. If a player already has sufficient width, I do not want a player to increase the length of the lead arm or ‘arm bar’, but if the player is narrow like Buddy Reed, in my opinion he has to add lead arm flexion. What I like my players to think is instead of pushing the arm back, I want them to feel like they are stepping away from the lead arm.”

2) Before there are any qualms about how swing path is affected due to pitch location, we can look at Reed’s next swing (where the ball location is higher in the zone) and see it follows the same pattern – very narrow, hands move away from the shoulder, and the bat path is steep. Reed’s finish is low where Griffey gets the bat path on plane and finishes higher.