Lefty Throw / Righty Swing and Why It's Correlated to Great Hitting
Front arm dominance is the only theory of the swing that has been scientifically proven to be correlated to great hitting. I have posted a lot about the lopsided number of the greatest pound for pound hitters who were lefty hitters who threw righty. While this trait is seen in just 2% of the population, it is seen in 60% of the greatest pound for pound left handed hitters of all time. You can download or view for free my list of the top pound for pound hitters of all time at theswingmechanic.com.
But it’s not just in lefties that we see this correlation of front arm dominance to great hitting. Of the more than 20,000 major league baseball players throughout history, there have been only seven purely position players with 3000 or more at-bats who batted righty and threw lefty (I say "eight" in the video, my mistake). They are still front arm dominant, but just standing on the other side of the plate. The average OPS+ among them is 114! That’s equal to the OPS+ of Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.
There have also been a lopsided number of pitchers who batted righty and threw lefty who had great careers at the plate. Travis Wood threw lefty and batted righty. He hit six home runs in 119 at-bats between 2013 and 2014. Madison Bumgarner throws lefty and bats righty. He hit 5 homers in 77 at-bats in 2015. He also hits a home run every 33 at-bats for his career. That’s better than Jackie Bradley Jr, Starling Marte, and Jason Heyward. Mike Hampton was also a pitcher who threw lefty and batted righty, and he had one of the best single seasons of a pitcher ever, when he hit seven homers in 79 at-bats in 2001.
We also see this correlation in some of the greatest ballstrikers in golf. Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Johnny Miller, Nick Price, Curtis Strange, Greg Norman, and Henrick Stenson were all among the greatest ballstrikers of their time and all were natural lefties who swung righty.
Front Arm Dominance is the first swing theory that is not just some guy’s opinion of what makes a great swing, but it’s a theory based on science. The science has been there all along just waiting for us to find it. If your front arm is your dominant arm, you in fact have a higher likelihood of developing a great swing.
Here’s why this correlation of great hitters and front arm dominance exists. In the baseball and golf swing it’s so important to have a square barrel or club-face at the moment of contact. Squareness of the barrel or club-face at contact not only gives you more consistency, but more power as well. That’s the big challenge in the swing: How do we move it with speed, while also to the best of our ability being as square at contact as possible.
Here’s the thing, it’s extremely difficult to have a square barrel or club face if your back arm is excessively firing out, and a coordinated back arm tends to want to fire out. It wants to push and roll toward the ball. This is the death move in the swing. So these hitters and golfers had a huge advantage when learning the swing in having their back arms less capable. Because their back arms were less capable, they developed more of a body controlled action, than a handsy action through contact.
The back arm overexerting isn’t just a flaw in the swing. It is the flaw in the swing. Everyone has always been searching for a secret to the swing. This is it - develop a swing structure in which the back arm doesn't overexert.
There is a lot of noise in swing instruction in both golf and baseball. But I believe that science is now putting its finger on the location of the secret to the swing. So many people believe that the swing can’t be figured out, that there is no best way to do it, that every player is different and has to find his own best way. I think these are just copouts by people who have given up. Do you really think that in a hundred years we'll know just as much about the swing as we do today? C'mon! To think that no advancements can be made in our knowledge of swing mechanics is simply an archaic way of thinking. There is a best way to swing for optimal power and consistency.
It’s time that the US becomes the world powerhouse in baseball once again. We can do that if we begin training hitters from a young age to not overexert their back arms through the swing. Since they most often will develop this swing structure on their own, what we really need to do is give them a good piece of lumber to swing, and leave them alone.