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Bouncing Back: Alex Rios

July 13, 2010 BY ALEX EISENBERG 4 Comments

Looking for reasons to explain Alex Rios’ bounceback from a down year in 2008 and a simply bad year in 2009, all you have to do is look to the hands.

Rios lowered his hands considerably this year. Compare the clips below. The clips on the left are from 2009 and the clips on the right are from 2010.



*Credit to MLB Advanced Media

The adjustment helped Rios on a couple of levels:

1. He’s improved the leverage in his swing by altering the trajectory of his swing path. The bat’s path is less linear than what it was before and he’s now better able to drive balls that are between thigh and letter high.

2. He’s shortened his swing. In loading his bat, Rios now moves his hands up whereas he moved his hands slightly up and back in 2009, which resulted in a longer swing. If you compare the two swings at the point of where Rios makes his first aggressive move forward with the bat, you’ll see the shorter distance to the hitting zone comes from his 2010 swing.

With a simple adjustment — plus the break he took from baseball after a tumultuous 2009 season — Rios has returned to his 2006 and 2007 levels of productivity, except this time he’s making contact at rates he has yet to do so before.

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4 Comments »

  • Randy said:

    I’ve been a big Rios fan and was very disappointed with his terrible year last year, and even happier with his 2010 production. Being on the East Coast I don’t get to watch him play that often so it’s tough to “see” flaws in his swing. Thanks for providing these visuals and the description.

    Any chance you could do something on Josh Beckett? I’m interested in seeing if his arm angle has changed, his pitch selection percent, or something else.

  • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

    I’ve been looking to do an article on Rios for a while…it actually dates back to last year, but when I compared his 2009 swing to what he did in 2007, I couldn’t really spot any differences.

    I’ll see what I can find on Beckett. I remember I saw some type of analysis early in the season on why he was struggling, but I can’t recall what was said. But yeah, I’ll put him on my list of guys to look into.

  • lisa gray said:

    hi alex!!!

    would you please do a similar analysis on lance berkman? he really isn’t driving the ball with authority the way he used to, especially to right center

    thx

    lisa

  • Alex Eisenberg (author) said:

    Hi Lisa,

    I’ll be happy to take a look at him. I’m not sure how much I’ll find though since, after a quick glance at his numbers, he doesn’t appear to be that far off his recent ISO-power rates and guys who have messed up with their swings typically are guys that have really tanked…

    So the power is down, the walks are down slightly, the strikeouts are up slightly and the BABIP is low for a second consecutive year…I wonder if he’s just showing signs of aging as a ball player. Either way, I’ll be happy to check and see if there is anything different, but I’m not confident I’ll find much.