Monday, August 10, 2009

Milton Bradley's Fate (and Swing) in His Hands

Yesterday looked like a resurrection game for Milton Bradley. He went 4-5 with an RBI (3-4 from the left) and is 7-11 in the series against the Rockies. So why would I pick today to critique his hitting? Why would I come down hard on a guy who is currently enjoying his best offensive (and, in some ways, least offensive) surge of the season?

Because Milton's one out in yesterday's games epitomized the secret of his struggles. Cue the video.

The movie is old, but the story stays the same. In the critically acclaimed film, Milton Bradley Breaks Bat Over Knee, Milton Bradley plays himself as a Padre. At the 0:52 mark, you can see a moving scene in which the oft misunderstood slugger strikes out as a left-handed batter and then shows the audience that the film is not at all ironically titled.

I bring up this clip to help, not to embarrass. Pay close attention to Milton's hands as the pitch approaches the plate. He's moving his hands up and back, which is what he did in his one failed at-bat of yesterday's game. He also strikes out in this video, which is what he did in that at-bat yesterday. He then breaks his bat in frustration, which . . . you get the idea.

I've noticed it a lot lately. When Milton whiffs from the left side, his hands are invariably moving backward (and usually a tad upward) before he starts his swing. I'm no batting coach, but that can't help. Normally when you swing the bat, forward hand movement is advantageous.

Still, I wondered if I was only noticing this backward technique on bad LH at-bats and forgiving it the other 23% of the time. But as this video clip from shows, Milton doesn't always move his hands backward when he swings . . . just when he misses or gets freakishly jammed (and usually in high-pressure RBI situations like yesterday's K).

When Milton is most successful, he drops his hands slightly before swinging, sometimes a little backward, but never as pronounced as the epic-fail swings at crunch time. Actually, from the right he hardly moves his hands at all before swinging.

So there it is, Milton. I advise you to adopt some kind of trigger/timing mechanism involving dropping your hands so that you avoid these counterproductive activities before (and after . . . dear Lord, someone stop the maple carnage) your swings. Other than that, keep up the good work against the Rockies.
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