Pujols is one of the greatest hitters to have ever played the
game. Or, at least, he was. Why was he so great? And why did he
decline so quickly after leaving the Cardinals? We can learn a
lot about hitting, and the
by digging into those questions.
I say that not merely academically, but based on
my experience with Andres Torres.
I know about training, but hitting was difficult. And then in
’08... There’s a guy called Chris
O’Leary (a St. Louis fan who kept online
flipbooks breaking down
Pujols’ swing). He’s online. He talks about
Rotation. He's got video
examples of Pujols, and I watched those.
Andres Torres 2012
With my help, and leveraging my
intensive study of Albert Pujols
swing, was able to
rebuild his approach and swing and helped the Giants win the
2010 World Series.
After the 2007 season, Torres
remained stuck in AAA, and he knew something had to change.
With the help of Chris O'Leary, a private hitting coach, he
began looking at all the video he could find on hitters he admired,
starting with Albert Pujols. He saw the way they generated power by
rotating through the pitch.
A Band of Misfits
Over the years, I have produced a number of
flipbooks and other analyses of
Albert Pujols' swing and, as I come out with new ones, I tend to make
the old ones available for FREE.
Albert Pujols Swing Analysis
Let me explain what a good swing actually looks
like using a clip of Albert Pujols hitting a home run to left
Before I do, let me give you some context.
The pitch was an 85 MPH fastball, right down the middle, thrown by Livan Hernandez
in the fifth inning on April 23, 2009. The prior two pitches were 78 and 79 MPH
sliders just outside.
Home Run Swing
The ball landed about rows up in the Left Field bleachers,
just a few seats in from the aisle and the grassy knoll in Center Field.
The first thing to notice about Albert Pujols' swing is how short
Because he is so short to the
ball, Albert Pujols has more time than the average
player to read the pitch. That gives Pujols more distance
and time to get a sense of what the pitch is and what it's going to do.
That increases the likelihood that he will be able to hit the ball squarely
and, as I will discuss in a moment, that is the key to Albert Pujols' ability
to hit for both average and power.
Home Run Swing
Of course, given the
Hitch in his
swing, Albert Pujols' swing is a perfect illustration of how a
short swing is short from the standpoint of TIME, but not
While it is true that Albert Pujols doesn't stride as much as
many players do — his STRIDE is actually more of a STEP — if you watch what his front foot does, you will see that
he does or, as I discuss in my piece on
stride, at least did, take a stride of nine inches or so.
Home Run Swing
More importantly, if you watch the movement of his back hip,
you will see that Albert Pujols still achieves a
sufficient weight shift and Rotation. Without his short but powerful weight shift,
Albert Pujols wouldn't be able to hit the ball as hard as he does.
Albert Pujols' swing is consistent with Ted Williams' principle that
the hips lead the hands. Notice in Frame 8 that Albert Pujols' hips start
to open up while his hands stay up and back.
Once Pujols' hips have opened for a frame or two, his hands
then start to come around.
One thing that you will hear constantly at any youth baseball
field is parents and coaches telling kids to, "Swing level."
However, if you look at Frame 10 of the clip above, you will
see that Albert Pujols doesn't swing level to the ground.
You can also see in Frame 10 above that, rather than
squishing the bug, Albert Pujols' back toe is completely off the
ground at the POC. His back toe gets pulled off the ground by the extension
of his front knee and the resulting rapid rotation of his hips.
Pujols does eventually get to a position that looks like
squishing the bug, but he reaches that position in Frame 15,
which is well after the POC.
Many baseball announcers and commentators are absolutely fixated
on the concept of extension at the Point Of Contact (POC), but if you
look at the clip below you will see that Albert Pujols doesn't reach
full extension until Frame 13, which is well after the POC.
At the POC, Albert Pujols' back elbow is in a position that
is different than the Power V position that many of Charley
Lau Sr.'s devotees preach and that I was taught
when I was learning to hit.
Pujols' bat and hands are then pulled
out into extension by the tremendous centrifugal force that he
generates during his swing.
What I see in Albert Pujols swing is a mechanically perfect swing.
And a swing that is highly repeatable.
Even in his "bad" swings, meaning swings
that result in outs, he often misses the ball by as little as 1/8
of an inch.
As a result, I absolutely believe
Albert Pujols when he says he doesn't use any illegal, performance-enhancing
substances. I think the best explanation for Albert Pujols' numbers is
once-in-a-generation talent, rather than steroids.
Why Albert Pujols Isn't Himself
in Home Run Derbies
Based on a conversation with a
professional client, and his comments about the value of this
section with respect to
Level of Effort, I have decided to move this section to
client site. To view the contents of this piece, you need
become a client.
About the Author
My highest-level client is
Torres of the San Francisco Giants. Using the concepts that I
discuss on my
Rotational Hitting 101 DVD and on my client-only web site, we
worked together to revamp his swing and get him to the point where
he could be successful at the major league level.
Andres isn't the only professional baseball player that I have
worked with. At last count, I have two other clients in the major
leagues, three clients at AAA, one client at AA, several more
clients in the lower levels of the affiliated minor leagues, and
three clients playing for independent minor league teams and
trying to get back on the road to the major leagues. I have also
worked with a number of D-1 college baseball and fast pitch
I don't give out the names of these players because I don't
want to get them in trouble with their coaches. While they, and I,
believe in what I teach, most of the time it contradicts what
their coaches are saying, so they have to keep it to themselves
and we have to work on the down low.
If you are a minor leaguer and are looking for help,
e-mail me and we can talk about how you can get access to my
client-only web site.
 If you read Charley Lau Sr.'s book "The Art of Hitting .300"
or view the related video, he never once talks about the concept of extension or
making the Power V at the Point Of Contact. However, the book is full of pictures
of George Brett doing just that...
George Brett Demonstrating the Power V at the POC
...so it's not surprising that that is generally how the book is interpreted. Of course, if you go through George Brett's best swings frame by frame, you will see that they look nothing like the swing he demonstrates in Charley Lau Sr.'s book.
 The frame below is of a fly out to the right field
warning track (third pitch of first at bat on 7/31/2009). Albert Pujols is
in a mechanically perfect position in this frame. The result of the swing
was only an out, rather than a home run to right field, because Albert
chased a high pitch and got under the ball by maybe 1/8 of an inch (note
the position of the ball on the bat). To the
credit of the pitcher (Brian Moehler), he went up the ladder on Albert and
got him to chase a pitch just out of the top of the strike zone.
But talk about dodging a bullet.
Albert Pujols Not Squishing The Bug