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Albert Pujols' Back Leg

4/30/2012
Updated 5/18/2012

I have been getting many questions about Albert Pujols' struggles at the start of the 2012 regular season. I have looked at a few lower-quality clips, and do think I see a problem with his swinging at more balls and pitches down in the strike zone than usual, but today I came across the clip below of Albert Pujols that may shed more light on his struggles.

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
4.14.2012

The first thing to notice is that his struggles are not due to a problem with Albert Pujols' stride. Notice how, in the clip above, Albert Pujols is using his classic stride, not the stride that he experimented with at the start of the 2011 season and that suppressed his average and power at the start of the 2011 season.

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
4.14.2012

However, what you can see in the clip above of Albert Pujols is a problem with his back leg in general, and his back foot in particular.

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
4.14.2012

The thing to notice in the clip above is how much Albert Pujols' back foot skids around at the start of the rotation of his hips. As you can see in the clip below, his back foot moves much more than it did during his days in St. Louis.

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
2009

This is an issue because the more the back foot moves, the more energy that is bled off as opposed to being used to rotate the hips, which can lead to warning track power rather than home run power.

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
2009

It's hard to say exactly why Pujols' back foot is doing what it is doing.

The difference could be due to Albert Pujols' pre-at-bat routine. Albert Pujols used to be meticulous about preparing the area below his back foot -- before every at bat he would dig out a small trench into which he would place his back foot -- and it could be that he isn't doing that any more for some reason.

The difference could be due to Albert Pujols' cleats. His cleats don't seem to be biting into the ground the way they used to. I know that Pujols has struggled with heel pain in the past and it's possible that, in an effort to deal with that problem, he has changed to a pair of cleats that don't let his back foot lock into the ground as well as it used to.

Regardless of the precise cause, the fact is that Albert Pujols' back foot clearly isn't biting into the batter's box any more. Instead, it just skids around on top of the dirt of the batter's box. That is causing his back foot to move around too much and is reducing the force with which his hips rotate. That, in turn, could be reducing his batspeed.

The Secrets of Albert Pujols' Swing

For those who want to develop a comprehensive understanding of Albert Pujols' swing, I have put together a new eBook entitled The Secrets of Albert Pujols' Swing. It contains 650+ pages of photos and descriptions and is on SALE for just $19.95 from now until Opening Day, 2014.

5.3.2012 Update

I've spent a bit more time looking at Albert Pujols' swing and looking for differences between his 2011 swing and his 2012 swing. As part of that effort, I put the clip below together.

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
2011 vs. 2012

I continue to see few significant differences between the two swings, with the exception of the back legs and the back feet.

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
2011

The thing to compare is the stability of Albert Pujols' back leg, and his back foot in particular.

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
4.14.2012

In the 2011 clip, Albert Pujols' back leg and back foot are rock steady. In contrast, in the 2012 clip Albert Pujols' back leg is unsteady and his back foot skids around underneath him as his hips start to rotate.

In my opinion that difference, while small, is potentially significant because an unsteady back foot is often associated with power deficits and swings that are less efficient than they could be. It could be that Pujols felt the power deficit and, not knowing the root cause of it, started changing multiple things in an effort to try to fix the problem. That then caused him to press, which made things much worse, not better.

5.18.2012 Update

Albert Pujols has hit two home runs in the last two days. What's more, these balls weren't hit with the fugly swing that you saw when he hit his first home run of 2012. Instead, they were hit with the classic Albert Pujols swing.

So what has changed?

If you look at clips of these home runs and watch Albert Pujols' back foot...

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
Home Run to Left Field
5.16.2012

Albert Pujols Swing Video Clip

Albert Pujols
Home Run to Center Field
5.17.2012

...you will see that Albert Pujols' back foot and back leg are much more stable than they were during the previous weeks. Instead of his back foot skidding around in the batter's box, Albert Pujols' back foot stays locked into the ground until it gets pulled up and around by the rotation of his hips.

For reasons that I explain in greater detail on my client site, that has restored Albert Pujols' power and his confidence. As long as he makes sure to pay attention to this, Albert Pujols should return to hitting at close to his previous level.

The Secrets of Albert Pujols' Swing

For those who want to develop a comprehensive understanding of Albert Pujols' swing, I have put together a new eBook entitled The Secrets of Albert Pujols' Swing. It contains 650+ pages of photos and descriptions and is on SALE for just $19.95 from now until Opening Day, 2014.

For More Information

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