When people ask who I’d love to “get my hands on”, the top two answers are Jason Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton. Both are big, strong dudes who don’t have their swings optimized. Because of their high ceiling, it makes you wonder how good they could be. In terms of Stanton, you could say Aaron Judge is Stanton with a better swing. Judge just puts himself in a better situation to have more time, to be on plane to more pitches.
Well, I’m very curious to see what happens because Giancarlo Stanton has made an adjustment. And there are two cool things about this.
- His adjustments are improving his swing sequence which is improving his swing characteristics.
- This is a perfect example of shoulder alignment and tilt concepts.
In the GIF at the top of the page, you can really see how he’s closed off his stance. There were some smaller changes that turned into a fairly big change. Before, he was set up fairly neutral. Now, he is definitely closed off. The effect of this is his body is more closed to the pitch. This includes his pelvis and his shoulders.
Stanton has always been a classic Pull Pattern hitter. This means he’ll create separation between his hips and shoulders, but his hands would come forward with his shoulders. He would close off in his stride, but he wasn’t able to delay the hands. This new setup is creating a whole new “environment” for him. I would imagine he FEELS closed in his stance. And because of this, he has a new feel of how he can get open. Instead of closing in with the stride as his load, he can now use his shoulder alignment/tilt movement as part of his load.
Try this… Sit down and close your shoulders off as a way to load. Feel yourself close and take your hands back, then get ready to open to swing. Do you feel yourself using your turn to swing.
Now try what Stanton is doing now. Seated, get your hips and shoulders to feel closed off. The amount you need to turn to feel closed will vary. Do not load your hands! Once you have a feeling of being closed but not loaded, see if you can feel your shoulder alignment and tilt as part of your load. Let your hands come up “against” that move. Feel different?
Watching the full clips, notice the difference of direction in Stanton’s rear foot. He has it pointed toward the catcher now! The overall feel of the clips is very different to me. In the top clip (2013 WBC) he is loading back then forcing the swing. In the current swing, there is a lot more flow. Let’s look closer.
In the top clip, Stanton has good angle with bat. The rear arm is down, the lead arm is up. You’ll see this with good college and pro hitters which can make it hard to determine what is going on. It isn’t about the positions, it is about positioning and movement. The big different for me is how much the rear shoulder is getting down with dragging the hands in the new clip. Remember that his shoulder alignment is much more closed off in that new clip too. So more tilt, more shoulder transition.
Who Should Try This
Closing off your stance is certainly something to test out – especially if you have pull pattern tendencies. The key is to have that feeling of being closed without that hands being loaded, not just closing. Many great hitters have used a closed stance or a closed stride angle to create alignment transition. One hitter that comes to mind is Ken Griffey Jr.