Over the offseason, we heard about Dodgers right-fielder Mookie Betts going to Driveline, the well-known data-driven training center outside of Seattle. Keen-eyed observers noticed Chris Taylor in a video of Mookie, and Taylor confirmed this spring that he spent time at Driveline, too.
Now, Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times reports that a total of six LA hitters visited the facility, and we have names for two more of them: Gavin Lux and Max Muncy.
Muncy wasn’t certain what to expect, having believed Driveline was a place pitchers went to improve with the help of cutting-edge technology — not their counterparts at the plate.
Yet in the ever-evolving world of advanced baseball development, Driveline offered an intriguing opportunity. In the last several years, they’d crafted a hitting program designed to refine swing mechanics, build strength and, most crucially, increase bat speed.
So, Muncy agreed, becoming one of six Dodgers hitters who made the trek to Driveline this winter in a pilgrimage organized by the team.
“I was like, OK, I’ll give it a shot, why not?” Muncy recalled this week. “If it increases my bat speed, if it helps me catch up to fastballs with guys throwing harder than ever, if it helps me play longer into my career — there was no downside to it for me.”
For Lux, the appeal was the visual breakdown of his swing, considering himself a visual learner.
Lux, meanwhile, has seen dividends from his session, most notably a substantial 6 mph gain in bat speed.
“I’m a vision guy,” Lux said. “So when you put up a 3D picture of my skeleton and what my body is actually doing, you can get a way better idea” of how to improve your swing.
Lux adding bat speed is notable. In the limited data we have available, Lux averaged 79.6 MPH on his bat speed in 2022. Adding 6 MPH would put him at 85.6. So what does that mean from a practical standpoint?
According to MLB, the average bat speed on singles last year was 79.5 MPH; doubles and triples averaged 82.8 MPH; and home runs averaged 85.5 MPH. So, essentially, Lux’s bat speed moved from singles territory to home run territory.
Now, that doesn’t mean all of his singles will turn into home runs. Those are averages, and launch angle and quality of contact still matter. But increased bat speed will turn some fly outs into home runs and some singles into doubles and some groundouts into singles. It’s also important to remember there’s a difference between doing it in a lab and doing it in a game, but for now, the results seem quite promising.
We didn’t get numbers on bat speed for Muncy, Taylor, or Betts, but increasing that bat speed was the goal for all of them in going to Driveline. We’re only three days away from the first spring game, when we might start to see whether it’s going to pay dividends.
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