Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Swing Mechanics and Random Draft Thoughts
Every once in a while, I run across something that piques my interest for some reason or other. I was watching a few highlight clips and stumbled across a Jason Kipnis homerun that seemed noteworthy, especially in light of the recent Adam Dunn post. The contrast between the swing mechanics of Dunn and Kipnis was striking. As for Kipnis, I was really amazed at just how still he stands in this clip:
Kipnis stands as still as a statute while waiting for the pitch. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone stand quite THAT still at the plate. He's calm, poised, and comfortable just waiting on the pitcher. Unlike Dunn, Kipnis's stance doesn't require any pre-pitch movement to get into hitting position. Kipnis starts in proper hitting position and simply has to fire the swing when the time comes. He is in perfect hitting position before the pitcher even begins his windup. Dunn, on the other hand, has a long way to go before he gets into hitting position and doesn't get into anything resembling proper hitting position until after the pitcher reaches the apex and starts to unpack his leg kick.
It's not easy for most hitters to stay relaxed and loose without pre-pitch movement. That's why a lot of hitters use a bat waggle, to both keep the muscles free of tension and trigger the swing. Kipnis obviously doesn't need any movement to hit. As for Dunn, I'd rather see him start in a Kipnis like position.
Anyway, that's the end of my ruminations on Dunn, he's on his own now, but the stillness of Kipnis and the dichotomy between the two approaches was striking enough to inspire me to write about it. Turning back to Kipnis, seeing the clip made me reflect on my shadow draft for that year.
I was pretty pleased with my shadow picks and thought I had outdone the Reds...until I saw what the Reds managed to do in comparison.
In my 2009 shadow draft, I selected rhp Shelby Miller in round 1, 2b/of Jason Kipnis in Supplemental Round 1, lhp David Holmberg in round 2, and lhp Josh Spence in round 3.
Outside of a team issued suspension for alleged underage drinking, Miller had a tremendous 2011 season and is establishing a #1 starter ceiling. Jason Kipnis took the world by storm with the Indians and is looking like an impact bat at second base. David Holmberg is the only one of my picks who hasn't reached the majors yet, but that's much more of a testimony to the talent and polish of the other three than an indictment of Holmberg, who is following a traditional development path. Finally, Josh Spence made his debut with the Padres this year and pitched very effectively out of the bullpen to the tune of a 2.73 ERA in 29.2 innings. He has underwhelming velocity, but a plus change up and a very good feel for pitching.
Overall, I'm very pleased with my shadow draft, but it's difficult to find fault with what the Reds did with their first 4 picks of the draft. The Reds landed Mike Leake in the first round, Brad Boxberger in the Supplemental Round, Billy Hamilton in round 2, and Donnie Joseph in round 3.
It's up in the air which set of four, shadow or actual, will ultimately prove to be the better value, but the Reds reeled in four quality prospects and Hamilton in round 2 was a steal. Mike Leake has already arrived, Boxberger and Joseph are good bets to work high leverage innings at the MLB level, and Hamilton has a very high ceiling with some development risk.
It's remarkable just how much the Reds have improved in the draft. Their draft effectiveness is leaps and bounds ahead of where it used to be, which is a testament to both the scouting department and the player development staff that knocks the rough edges off those picks. It always bears mentioning just how far the Reds have come since the dark old days of Jim Bowden, Ty Howington, Chris Gruler, Jeremy Sowers, and company.