Hyped Tony Gwynn Hitting Secrets Getting YOUR Panties in a Bunch?

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Barry Bonds Homerun

Interesting...in a July 9th, 2002 USAToday article Tony Gwynn unveils hitting secrets of Barry Bonds. A buddy of mine (Thanks Gill!) brought this to my attention the other day, one of the greatest contact hitters of all time brings up a surprising issue with Barry Bonds' hitting mechanics snapped with a high speed frame by frame camera during his 586th home-run.

(Total Tony Gwynn Hitting Secrets article word count is 1,757, total read time about 7 minutes)

The major question is: Is Tony Gwynn's analysis misinformed OR misunderstood?

Now, when I say "hitting secrets" I'm NOT talking about steroids, HGH, or any other Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED's) as Bonds' has denied taking (who's he trying to fool right?). Laying argument aside for a second on the PED "thing," as far as I'm concerned Bonds "was" on his way to Cooperstown before, and God only knows if he'll make it now.

Drugs aside and addressing Tony Gwynn is trying to say here,

It's crazy to see Tony Gwynn dissect Bonds' swing, for the fact he spent most of his career keeping the ball "out of" the air. Even Ted Williams, Mr. Gwynn's idol, after a handful of meetings with Gwynn, constantly got on his case about trying to pull the ball a little more and increase his power numbers...Gwynn reluctantly applied Teddy Ballgame's advice, but I think it was too little too late for Mr. Gwynn to finally take action.

One thing to look out for when gargantuan baseball athletes like Gwynn try and teach (or analyze) the swing, is just because they're a Hall of Famer doesn't mean they can explain the swing for all to understand. Seriously...sometimes their language gets mumbled a bit...for the most part, I know what they mean, but others do NOT.

For example, this may seem like blasphemy to some, but I don't believe Joe Morgan, mucho respect to how great he was as a player, analyzes the swing very well. I've heard on multiple instances Joe Morgan giving "hitting secrets" or advice on ESPN commentary, and I'm thinking, huh? :/ It just doesn't make sense sometimes.

Or guys like Orel Hershiser, a pitcher, giving horrific swing advice...listen Orel, just because you were an awesome clutch pitcher and we all nicknamed you the Bulldog, I'm a Fresno State Bulldog, so I can relate :P, doesn't mean you deserve the hitting expert mic.

Furthermore on Major League greats revealing hitting secrets,

With Jack Clark...this guy was a wealth of knowledge for me and my other pro-ball/college buddies humbly helping him teach a group of hungry young hitters at a local baseball camp last Fall, but what I saw was mind blowing...the kids were having a hard time translating what Jack was talking about and relating it to their swings (the age group was high schoolers on down).

Even I had to smooth out the edges of Jack's golden tid-bits for myself, so my kids could understand me.

Tony Gwynn Hitting Secrets

Back to the USAToday article,

My point is, don't take "my" analysis of the "Tony Gwynn" analysis as putting down a Hall of Famer and thinking I know it all, because that's definitely NOT the case...I'm always learning, but with more of a filter these days. I just think a majority of these baseball greats weren't gifted to teach the game, only gifted to play it.

You guys can read Tony Gwynn revealing Bonds' "hitting secrets" yourself and view the cool frame by frame camera action with TG's commentary, so I won't try to reinvent the wheel here...here's the:

  • USAToday article (the Gwynn commentary of the frame by frame is in the right hand margin, under "Anatomy of a Swing"), AND
  • Frame by frame with Tony Gwynn commentary (CLICK "Bonds' Home-run Swing" at the bottom of the photo, then after the pictures finish the frame by frame sequence, CLICK Gywnn's Analysis of the swing")

Gwynn's analysis in a nutshell (bet you guys didn't believe I could put Tony Gwynn in a nutshell huh? :P)

  • FRAMES 1 & 2: Key head positioning, head doesn't move in the stance and stride phase of the swing,
  • FRAME 3: Launch position - bat cocked at a 45 degree angle, separation of stride foot from hands in launch and load phase of swing,
  • FRAME 4: Knob of the bat toward incoming pitch, the "pull" is NOT "down" but across the body, keeping hands inside the ball,
  • FRAME 5: Gwynn addresses talking heads saying "you can't 'pull,' with the bottom hand, the barrel into a flat plane and generate pop," he says Bonds is doing just that...he also comments the "top" hand is just along for the ride, AND finally
  • FRAME 6: The swing is flat through the zone, and one shouldn't force the lower body through but pull the bottom hand across the body to generate pop.

One of the few hitting secrets Tony Gwynn raises in Frames 1, 2, and 3...he really gripes on head positioning, which is to say, THE most important feature of any great hitter. If the head, or better yet the eyes, move forward or drop, then the ball gets more difficult to hit.

The eyes are the soul to a sound Smarter Swing.

What's more,

Tony Gwynn says, and I agree, the more consistent we can get into the launch part of the swing correctly, the better our results over time. What is the correct position?

  1. Head/eyes shouldn't have moved since we started our swing,
  2. We get separation from the stride foot inching forward (or picking up and putting back down) and the hands loading back,
  3. There's a loading into the back hip, AND
  4. The bat is cocked at a 45 degree angle behind the head.

On the contrary though...

There are two "hitting secrets" I think need clarification on Gwynn's analysis...the role of top/bottom hand, AND the barrel's plane of the swing (specifically in Bonds' swing).

If you've been on SwingSmarter.com for any length of time, then you know we preach top hand supplies the power (our "Through" hand), and bottom hand supplies direction of the knob "DOWN" to the incoming pitch, like a rudder on a boat.

Here's my reasoning...now imagine,

If you didn't have man-power and had to move a big heavy cabinet across a room, and the only piece of equipment you owned were those orange moving slider pads (you know, the ones you put under each corner of heavy furniture), would it be easier to push the cabinet across the room OR pull it?

I don't know about you, but I'd rather "push" the cabinet across the room...it's the same with your top hand "pushing" through three imaginary baseballs, 2-3 inches apart after contact. Just as a Martial Artist focuses on hitting three feet past the surface of the board to break it, than busting their hand trying to strike just the surface.

Truth in hitting secrets need reasoning and explanation, we can't just throw something out there because we "viewed" it with video analysis software.

I think this is a prime example why Tony Gwynn didn't have more power at the plate because what worked for him was focusing on the bottom hand "pulling" through contact and creating a flat hitting plane. In his analysis he mentioned to not force the lower body, and I'm not sure what he means by that, but I know the hips and midsection start and drive the swing.

Ted Williams even said the hips start the swing, in addition to believing in an upward arc of the barrel to match the downward plane of the incoming pitch...now, I'd like to improve on what Williams left out, in which others become mistakenly misinformed,

The swing plane (barrel touchdown) should START out in front of our stride foot, NOT over the meat of the plate and drag 1 foot through the zone until we make contact. In which case, we'd get jammed, and this is where aluminum creates a reprieve for long swings. In other words, aluminum bats let us get away with a long swing...

Side note: here's one of my TOP 3 hitting secrets: hit with a wood bat 90% of the time. Just by doing this, your hitting results will get better, NOT over night, but will over time, so Swing Smarter with wood.

Back to dropping the barrel in the hitting zone to soon issue,

We lose bat speed that way...just like a boxer knows he has more power landing a straight reverse punch with his backhand because he has his whole body behind it, than swinging a round-house punch trying to get his opponent on the side of the face. Plus, the round-house (metaphor for a long swing) punch takes waaaaaaaay too much time to land anyway.

One of Jack Clark's hitting secrets: We want to cut the ball off with our barrel out in front of home-plate. Or better yet, since most stand differently in the box, out in front of our stride foot.

The bottom line...

We don't have as much power pulling as we do pushing, exampled in the heavy furniture daydream above. However, I have a video that'll blow your mind, of my swing, which looks like I'm pulling the bottom hand through, but in actuality I'm focusing on being top hand dominant.

Let me clarify a Tony Gwynn revelation to one of Bonds' hitting secrets,

This is really freaky, it has to do with a certain law of physics...for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so what Gwynn is offering about pulling the bottom hand maybe more a misunderstanding of what others think he's trying to say, you be the judge...

The other issue with Tony Gwynn's analysis is he says Bonds' swing is on a flat plane through the zone...most would interpret that as "flat" being parallel to the ground, but what I think Gwynn is talking about plane of the ball, which is more true. The latter also meshes well with what Ted Williams believed.

The truth is, and this is something every hitting pundit CAN'T deny, we have to be short to the ball, and long through it. The difference is how we teach it to our kids, and if they can understand the concept.

The real lesson here is just because you never played pro or college ball, or even made it through high school, you can't teach the swing. With the proper direction and influence (teaching style), we can accomplish anything with our players (sorry to sound cliche).

What do you think about the analysis of the Tony Gwynn/Barry Bonds hitting secrets above, please comment below...

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Baseball Swing Hand Path & Is It Real? 
It seems to me thinking to much top hand push disconnects the rear elbow from the body at contact. Joey i'm sure your a good hitter but your rear …

Top Hand is the Speed Hand, and the Front Side is Soft 
Amazing how many guys that play this game at the high levels and have been successful hitters have absolutely no clue how they do it. The hands and …

Bonds, Manny, A Rod, and Pujols are all Students of Charlie Lau's Hitting Style?? 
I spoke to Bobby Bonds who now lives in NJ. Bobby Bonds confirmed that both Bobby and Barry hit exactly like Gwynn describes. Bobby said that his father …

Flat Point of Contact? Not rated yet
What needs to be flat is the point on the bat that will make contact with the ball. The plane of the pitch is flat, perhaps with some downward trajectory, …

Your torso is being ignored...Why not USE it!?  Not rated yet
Listen, 66% of your body is your torso--from the top of your shoulders to the top of your pelvis. You move naturally from there--but, we've forgotten …

Barrel Lag Seen in Bonds' Swing Not rated yet
I agree that Gwynn is off base about the lead arm pull supplying the power. But I feel like a big aspect of Bonds success is that he does what you point …

Just Watch Bonds' top hand... Not rated yet
Joey, Did you ever see the MLB video hosted by Jenny Finch? It has Bonds in the the end trying to hit off Jenny Finch pitching to him (fast pitch). …

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