10 MLB hitters with the sweetest right-handed swings: Manny Machado, Anthony Rendon and more

Few things in baseball are as aesthetically pleasing a sweet swing. Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. had the sweetest swing of them all. No matter how many times you tried it in your backyard, it was impossible to replicate that casual explosiveness. It was so smooth and yet so impactful at the same time. There was no way to look as cool as The Kid. 

Swings don’t get any prettier than this, folks:

Darryl Strawberry had a great swing too. More recently, Joe Mauer had about as flawless a swing as you’ll see. Robinson Cano is the active sweet swing king — I mean, just look at this — though his teammate Jeff McNeil and reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger are nipping at his heels. Don’t sleep on Shohei Ohtani’s swing either.

The thing is, the term “sweet swing” applies exclusively to left-handed hitters. The next righty I hear described as having a sweet swing will be the first. I have a few theories on why that is. For starters, the follow through naturally takes a left-handed hitter toward first base, so the transition from swinging to running is seamless. Right-handed hitters don’t have that luxury.

Also, because most pitchers are righties — last year righties threw 72 percent of all pitches — lefties often have the platoon advantage and get a better look at the ball. That allows them to transfer their weight more aggressively. Righties have to respect the inside pitch a little more. I can’t help but wonder whether the traditional offset center field camera angle helps lefties look better too.

I won’t argue against lefty hitters having prettier swings than righties. For whatever reason they look better in the box. They just do. Don’t believe me? Take a right-handed hitter and mirror the video. Check out sweet swingin’ lefty Aaron Judge:

Beautiful. Righty Judge and lefty Judge look like two different players with two different swings even though they’re the same player with the same swing. Crazy.

Although the term “sweet swing” has been applied exclusively to lefties over the years, some righties do have sweet swings, and we are here to give them props. I know righties with sweet swings exist because I’ve seen them with my own eyes, but you needn’t take my word for it. Griffey says they exist too. He recently gave a kid props for his righty swing. Check it out:

What makes a swing pretty is completely subjective. A sweet swing doesn’t necessarily equal sweet results — many players have ugly swings but get good results, and vice versa — and you can’t really describe a sweet swing, but you know it when you see it. Former Cubs prospect Josh Vitters had one of the prettiest swings you’ll ever see. He never did hit though.

With all that in mind, here are 10 active righty hitters with swings that can — and should — be described as sweet. The players are listed alphabetically. Come with me, won’t you?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Performance-enhancing drugs. Does that mean we can’t appreciate the man’s swing? I don’t think so. Imagine pretending Robbie Cano doesn’t have a gorgeous swing because he failed a PED test a few years ago. We can acknowledge a man’s faults and still appreciate the things he does well. Anyway, there can be some length to Ryan Braun’s swing, but his distinctive high follow through really ties it all together. It makes Braun’s swing look compact even when he gets fully extended. It really is a thing of beauty.

Over the last two seasons J.D. Martinez is the only right-handed batter to put at least 240 balls in play to the opposite field and post a higher OPS than Nick Castellanos. Martinez had a 1.166 OPS when going the other way from 2018-19. Castellanos had a 1.022 OPS. Castellanos has the freakish ability to keep his hands tight to his body and still drive the ball the other way with authority. It’s an inside-out Derek Jeter style swing, only with power. The innate ability to barrel up the ball and the pronounced follow through give Castellanos one of the game’s most aesthetically pleasing swings from the right side.

This might be the sweetest right-handed swing in the game. Evan Longoria is well into his decline phase, we all know that, but his swing remains effortless, and the two-handed follow through is the gentleman’s follow through. It suggests a certain level of sophistication brute force mashers are unable to achieve. From the upright stance to the coil — notice how Longoria turns his back to the pitcher before going forward with his swing — to the two-handed follow through, that is right-handed swing royalty right there. They should all look so pretty.

Fair or not, it’s easy to dump on Manny Machado, especially given his 2018 postseason antics and underwhelming debut season in San Diego. He remains an elite talent though — 1,200 hits and 207 homers through age 26 is no joke — and Machado’s swing can best be described as “controlled violence.” He’s looking to hurt the baseball, but the swing is level and controlled, and the ball just explodes off his bat. Machado makes himself an easy target sometimes. That swing though? No one can put that down. It’s as sweet as the day is long.

Buster Posey is a bit of a throwback. He can hit any pitch in any location and doesn’t strike out excessively. He’s not someone who sits on a pitch and doesn’t adjust when he gets something else. Posey is a “see ball, hit ball” hitter and I mean that in the nicest possible way. There’s a reason he’ll get serious Hall of Fame consideration when the time comes. To fully appreciate Posey’s swing, you have to watch him regularly. He makes adjustments pitch-to-pitch and even while the pitch is in flight. It’s not uncommon to see him to lunge at a pitch and still square it up. All the while, Posey’s swing remains controlled. I hereby dub his swing handsome. It’s a handsome swing.

OG Albert Pujols is no longer the player he was at his peak but he’s going to sail into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot thanks to the game’s most technically sound swing. He’s incorporated a slight leg kick to help transfer his weight as he’s aged, giving his swing explosiveness even into his 40s. His swing is as level as any swing in the game — during his prime, that swing made Pujols virtually slump-proof — and everything flows nicely, from the moment Pujols lifts his front leg to the moment he lets his top hand go in his follow through. If it were teachable, everyone would do it. Flawless. Absolutely flawless.

Back-to-back Angels. I’ve always enjoyed Anthony Rendon’s casual, almost disinterested batting stance. He leans back and keeps his hands low, creating a false impression of vulnerability. Watch Rendon set up at the plate and you wonder how he’ll ever get himself into good hitting position before the pitch arrives, then BAM, the bat is on the ball. He loads his swing, takes a slight jab step with his front foot, and the barrel is in the hitting zone before you know it. It’s remarkable, truly. I don’t think you would ever try to teach someone to hit like Rendon, but it works for him, and it sure is fun to observe.

It is easy — very easy — to stereotype Miguel Sano as a lumbering slugger who swings from his heels all the time, and that is true to some extent. He is a high strikeout hitter, but let me refer you back to what I said early: a sweet swing doesn’t necessarily equal sweet results. Sano stands 6-foot-4 and 260 lbs. yet has a smooth and powerful swing that looks like it belongs to a hitter with a much smaller stature. He may swing and miss a bunch, but gosh, Sano’s swing sure looks good while he does it. The two-handed follow through is an exclamation point when he connects.

Perhaps no hitter benefited more from the juiced ball last year than Eugenio Suarez. That’s not meant to be a knock! Everyone played with the same ball and only a handful hit as many home runs as Suarez. The upright stance is deceptive — Suarez sort of looks like a pitcher in the batter’s box, like he’d rather be anywhere other than facing an MLB pitcher — but he quickly loads up, sometimes so early that it seems like he’s waiting for the pitch to arrive at the plate. The swing is big and the follow through is even bigger. It’s simple yet somehow complex. There’s so much to look at and none of it is bad.

I did not plan on having three Angels in this post. It just worked out that way. Between Pujols’ and Rendon’s and Justin Upton’s swings, Shohei Ohtani’s FAR (Fun Above Replacement), Andrelton Simmons’ glove, and Mike Trout’s general awesomeness, few teams are as watchable as the Angels. I don’t know if they’ll be good when the season begins, but they are appointment viewing. Upton’s swing is very powerful — there are times I half expect the bat to break off in his hands when he cuts off his follow through — and it doesn’t look like he has elite bat speed, but he absolutely does. Upton was a tippy-top prospect back in the day and he’s been a very productive big leaguer for a very long time because he can manipulate that swing to do damage in all quadrants of the zone. Plus it looks good. Real good.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *