You want to know how to hit a baseball with more power?
Well, before we do that, I'm just going to go ahead and leave this epic blast for your viewing pleasure. Take your time, watch this video, wipe the tears from your eyes, and then we'll get down to business.
Dustin Pedroia is listed at 5'9" and 175 lbs. That's pretty small for a pro ball player. Yet in 2008, his MVP season, he slugged .493 with an OPS of .869 - so how does a guy that small hit with so much power?
Because he absolutely feasts on inside fastballs - especially ones that are up in the zone. Because of this, he is able to generate a lot of power to his pull side.
Take a look at the chart below. It shows the location of pitches where Pedroia is hitting for the most power (slugging). The trend is pretty clear.
This can be a really hard thing to do for a lot of people (myself included). But there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to accomplish this.
1) You must keep your hands inside the baseball. If you let your hands drift out (having a long swing), you're going to get jammed or you're going to pull the ball foul.
2) You still have to be able to get your arms extended. This means that you need to hit the ball out in front of the plate.
3) You need to clear your hips early. This is part of rotational hitting which is something that I will go into depth on in another article.
They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well I say, when a pitcher gives you a high fastball, put it in the bleachers.
Pitchers hate to leave balls up in the zone - and for good reason, they get crushed. But sometimes pitchers get cocky and think that they can beat you up there with their velocity. This is where you make them pay.
Why is it easier to hit a baseball with more power when it is up in the zone? Because it allows your bat path to stay flatter, increasing your ability to hit the ball just under center, which generates a lot of power.
So how do you catch up with a high fastball?
1) First off, you need a good eye. There's high heat, and then there's "this ball is up around my eyes" heat. Don't swing at balls out of the zone.
2) Get your front foot down early. You need to be able to react quickly once you recognize that the ball is up. If you're foot is down, you're ready to pounce.
3) Work on timing the pitcher's fastball in the on deck circle. Get a feel for his rhythm and adjust your load and swing accordingly.
Keep your swing short. Check out the drill below from Dead Red Hitting to help work on this.
A lot of younger players struggle with keeping their hands back during the "loading" phase of their swing. As they start to take their stride their hands will either drift forward, drop down, or do both.
The problem is that you've just drained a lot of power from your swing by doing this, not to mention probably shortened the amount of time that your bat will be on the same plane as the ball (which is key to making good, hard contact, consistently).
I don't know who started this trend, but I remember playing Tee Ball and hearing this all the time.
I can understand why it's taught - sometimes kids don't understand the role that their lower half has in the baseball swing (although some kids will just get it naturally). So when you want to get a kid to use his hips more, you tell him "squish the bug" so that he'll open up during the swing.
Here's the problem. When you spin your foot like this, you wind up putting all of the weight on your back leg - and it never gets transferred forward. Transferring your weight forward and through the ball is HUGE in creating power and bat speed.