After Max Muncy had a double and two homers on Tuesday night, he mentioned to the media that he had made another little mechanical tweak in his swing that helped him hit the ball more squarely.
“I made a couple of mechanical adjustments right before the game. I was trying to feel for something. I was able to spot it on some film. I was able to keep quieter in the box and get to the top of the baseball.”
The specific tweaks he made are interesting, but for me, the big part is that little sentence in the middle: “I was able to spot it on some film.” As Muncy said to SportsNetLA’s Kirsten Watson on the field after the game, “It was something I wasn’t really feeling, I had to take a look at it.”
Last week, Fabian Ardaya wrote for The Athletic about some of the work Joey Gallo has been doing with the Dodgers’ hitting team, and I think it sheds some light on what Muncy is talking about:
Using a teaching method the Dodgers have replicated with several of their hitters, they set up an iPad for each of Gallo’s swings before a game, be it in a simulated game or down in the cage. They’ll have Gallo take five or so swings, stop, then try to connect what he’s feeling to what his body is doing. While his body is different than what it was when Gallo was putting together his All-Star first half in 2021, he can still try to replicate a version of that that still works for him.
A lot has been made about the Dodgers players becoming less reliant on in-game iPad reviews and more on talking to each other, but don’t let that trick you into thinking Los Angeles is eschewing technology altogether. The Dodgers remain at the forefront of combining technology with real people for the best development possible.
With Gallo (and, as Ardaya mentions, “several of their hitters”), the approach has been to take some swings and then watch the video to see if what you’re feeling matches up with reality. Reading between the lines on Muncy’s comments, it seems like that’s exactly the approach that helped him make his most recent adjustment. Everything can feel good, but if you watch the video and what your body is doing doesn’t match what you thought your body was doing, it’s time for an adjustment.
As Dave Roberts said (reported by Dodger Insider’s Cary Osborne):
“I think it speaks to his trust in the hitting guys. He was at rock bottom. I mean, he was really scuffling. For him to kind of rework some things, to be open speaks a lot to him. So those guys deserve a lot of credit. And Max has finally, I can feel good about saying, he’s on the other side of this.”
Not every story is a resounding success. Chris Taylor is making contact at the lowest rate of his career. Cody Bellinger has been bad offensively most of this season. Whether that’s because the “hitting guys” don’t have anything that works for them, or because the hitters themselves can’t implement the coaching, or something else entirely, we don’t know.
But Muncy was terrible for months, and now he’s vintage Muncy again. Gallo is hitting better than he did in New York. Justin Turner was batting .206 with a .611 OPS two months into the season and .365/.992 in the three months since.
Maybe they’ll get Taylor and Bellinger figured out, and maybe they won’t. But even the success they’ve already had this year shows the huge value of the Dodgers’ team of hitting gurus.
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