For Sunday's paper, I wrote this story about Michael Saunders and the noticeable change to his batting stance.
From the story:
Instead of his customary stance with his hands high, circling the bat before the pitch, Saunders stood in a wide stance, bat on his shoulder, completely still. As the pitcher delivered, he raised his hands and bat up slightly – cocking them.
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“I started it two days ago in the cage,” he said. “I had a day off and worked on it. We were just trying to figure out a way to get my hands in more of a consistent position to fire from, a way to make sure my hands are back.”
The best way was to start from the beginning of the swing, and go to the basics, he said.
“We tried to narrow it down to the simplest way to do that,” he said.
Mariners infielder Chone Figgins employs a similar start to his stance and swing. But from the left side of the plate, and with Saunders size, the best comparison is to Texas’ Josh Hamilton.
The AL MVP has one of the most simple movement-free stances. The bat rests at the start, his hands move up slightly and cock back and then he unleashes on the pitch.
Saunders also mentioned fellow Canadian and Twins left-handed slugging first baseman Justin Morneau as having a similar stance.
“They all start out with it on their shoulder, then they set their hands and then they stride,” Saunders said. “It allows them to stay back and see the ball. It really slows the fastball down and allows me to stay back on the breaking ball.” Here's two of the players Saunders mentioned:
Starting hand positions
Hands cocked in firing position:
Let's see how Saunders does with a few pics and some shaky video might help.
The stance before:
This is the point where Saunders is circling the bat and moving it around. Look at the bat position.
The new stance:
Here's some SHAKY video of him swinging on Saturday.
From batting practice:
From the simulated game:
The first day he debuted (Friday) he got a sharp single. In his next game, which was Sunday, Saunders had two hits. He turned on an inside pitch (something that gave him trouble in the past) and ripped it down the right-field line for a triple. Then later in the game, he singled sharply up the middle.
So in two games with the new stance. He had three hits. Eric Wedge has noticed.
"You don't ever expect to see something move directly in the game but it's been an improvement. He's in a better position to hit, the ball is coming off his bat better, and I think he is seeing the ball better, too. It's just putting him in a better position as the ball approaches home plate.''
Yes, it's early but progress is being made.