Shouldn't we have a launch angle thread?

AB in DC

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Jul 10, 2002
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Slate has an excerpt from a new book, The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players

It's very Red Sox focused, so some of this is familiar, but it gives a bit more depth than I've seen elsewhere.

Up to that point, few professional coaches had accepted Latta into their circles of trust. He was perceived as an unwelcome outsider who meddled with other coaches’ players. But as Boston’s charter arrived in Los Angeles on that early season road trip, Hyers wanted “another set of eyes”—Latta’s eyes—on a swing Betts had begun to forge that spring. Latta was a master at understanding how every part of the body worked in concert.

As Latta drove Betts to the UC–Irvine baseball facility, he asked him if he was sure he wanted to exert himself. Betts had been out of the lineup Sunday after injuring his left foot in a collision at home plate the day before. He said he was fine, and X-rays were negative. So they went to work as Latta does with almost every hitter. “We want the hand path to work and get length,” said Latta of creating an upswing with extension, “to get the body balanced and move forward.”

They worked together in private for several hours in open-air cages covered by hunter-green corrugated metal. The next day, Betts returned to the lineup against the Angels’ rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani. Betts batted first, where he had taken the vast majority of his at-bats as a big leaguer. At 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, he had the body of a leadoff hitter in addition to elite hand-eye ability. He had shown surprising power. That threat was about to become even more significant.

In the Anaheim twilight, Ohtani threw a full-count fastball that came close to the plate, knee-high. A keen observer could have noticed that Betts’s swing—already much changed that spring under Hyers’ instruction—looked different. As Ohtani delivered, Betts lifted his left leg and began his stride toward the pitcher. His hands dropped lower, toward his belt. As he moved forward, his hands stayed back and “under” the ball, as Latta teaches, which would enable his bat to travel on an uppercut trajectory. Pitches travel at downward angles, both because they’re released from an elevated mound and because gravity acts upon them. A flat bat path is on plane with a pitch for a very short period of time. An upward path increases the odds of optimum contact.
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
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It's a travesty coaches teach a downward swing all over the country. I'm glad that this is finally becoming a thing.
 

BJBossman

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Dec 6, 2016
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Where did the "downward swing" theory come from, anyway? I remember this being controversial back in the Walt Hriniak days.
I believe Charlie Lau gets credited for it.

The irony was his big name clients all were using the launch angle swing, even then.

Even Ted Williams and Mantle used the launch angle swing.

So did the Babe.