What's the Deal With
Pete Kozma's Swing?
I'll be the first person to admit that Pete Kozma -- a
middling hitter -- isn't someone whose swing most people are going to
find interesting. He isn't a good enough hitter for him to be a
good person to emulate or a bad enough hitter to serve as an
example of what not to do. However, what Pete Kozma's swing does is address a
long-standing question in the hitting wars.
Is a good swing linear, rotational, or both?
Discovering Rotational Hitting
As I have said before, as a kid I was taught
Extension Hitting, which is the label that I use to describe
the style of hitting that was taught by Charley Lau Sr. and that
is still taught by his students and disciples. That approach to
teaching hitting didn't help me or any of the people that I
As a result, when I started researching hitting in an effort
to help my older son, I was immediately intrigued by the concept
Rotational Hitting. I also saw
that it quickly helped to improve some critical aspects of my older son's swing.
In fact, I was so taken by the concept of Rotational Hitting
that I used it to describe my approach to teaching hitting and as the
title of my first hitting DVD,
The Limits of "Rotational Hitting"
As I have spent more time talking about hitting
with people, I have found that there is a significant amount of baggage associated
with the term "Rotational Hitting," so much so that I am
moving away from using the term to describe my approach to
The problem is that many
people are teaching Rotational Hitting as being completely about
rotation and without any linear component; without any weight shift. That is
particularly, and primarily, true of the teachings of Mike
However, in my opinion what Mike Epstein and his disciples
are teaching doesn't sync up with what I see when I
study The High-Level Swing.
Pete Kozma and Rotational Hitting
And what does this have to do
with Pete Kozma's swing?
As it turns out, Pete Kozma is
the posterchild for the limits of the rotation-only approch to teaching Rotational Hitting.
Of the limits of teaching a swing with no linear component.
When I saw Pete Kozma in 2010, when he was at AA, he utilized
some stride and weight shift.
As I discussed in my
2010 analysis of Pete Kozma's swing, his lower body action was far from optimal, showing evidence of what some scouts would label as "bad feet," but
at least then he transferred some of his weight forward and into the
Unfortunately, the swing that Pete Kozma is now ultilizing in
the big leagues is a perfect example of the "spinny," zero
weight shift swing that is so often taught as Rotational Hitting
and that is rightly criticized as not resembling
The High-Level Swing.
The clip below is from Saturday June 23, 2013 and shows Pete
Kozma's swing. What is remarkable about this swing is that, what
little movement there is, is primarily vertical.
June 23, 2013
There is essentially no forward, linear component to Pete
Yes, Pete Kozma does take a step forward toward the pitcher.
However, if you draw a marker down through the top of his head,
you will see that Pete Kozma exhibits very little forward
movement of the rest of his body in general and of his hips in particular.
Instead, he just sits and spins.
June 23, 2013
If you compare Pete Kozma's swing to the swing of Albert
Pujols, who also took a relatively short stride, you will see that Pujols
had much more forward, linear movement of his hips toward the pitcher.
That added energy into his swing that helped to drive the
rotation of his hips.
You can see a similar difference if you look at the swing of
Matt Carpenter, a hitter who has roughly the same amount of
experience in the major league and who is hitting much better
than Pete Kozma is.
Because Pete Kozma doesn't have this forward, linear thrust of
his back hip, and instead just spins in place, his swing is weaker
than it needs to be. As a result, he doesn't hit the ball as
hard as he is capable of, which turns line drives into out and
not singles or doubles.
If I Ran The Zoo
If Pete Kozma asked me what he should do about his swing, I
would have two recommendations.
First, I would have Pete Kozma change his stance. Right now he is
too upright, which is one reason why his movement is primarily
vertical. He needs to get into a more athletic stance where his
knees are more bent and he is lower to the ground. That will
allow him to swing and to adjust more with his entire body and
less with his arms. That will also make it easier for him to get
more of his weight into the pitch.
Improving his posture is one of the things that has helped my
Andres Torres make progress toward return to his 2010 form.
Second, I would have Pete Kozma work on getting his hips
moving linearly forward toward the pitcher. As Albert Pujols
demonstrates, this forward linear movement doesn't have to be
excessive. However, I would like to see Pete Kozma direct his
energy forward toward the pitcher, rather than down toward the
ground, because I think that would help him hit the ball harder
and increase the likelihood that the result would be a single or
Third, and for related reasons, Pete Kozma also continues to
have the problems with the plane of his swing that I pointed out
in my earlier
analysis of Pete Kozma's swing.
For More Information
2010 analysis of Pete Kozma's swing contains more clips of
Pete Kozma's swing and a discussion of other aspects of his
swing that may be affecting his performance.