Alex Gordon, now an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals, is Nebraska born-and-raised. The Lincoln native was a star for the Husker baseball team before he was drafted after his junior year. His numbers over the last decade, at the highest level, are impressive. How has he done it? If you’ve got a bucket of baseballs and a bat lying around, follow along and get to hitting!
Gordon’s little league coach, Randy Brolhorst, picked up on his talent at a young age: “I knew he was going to be something special – you could see it already.”
In his 12-year Major League career, Gordon has averaged 154 hits, 18 home runs and 69 RBIs (runs batted in) per season, with an average on-base percentage of .340.
These are consistent numbers, and his knack for finding a way to get on base definitely shows.
When it comes to Gordon’s swing, he knows what he’s talking about.
Use Two Hands
Alex Gordon’s first tip is a very simple one: keep two hands on the bat, especially in non-game situations. Many Major Leaguers can be seen transferring their bats to one hand as their swings follow through.
Over the years, it has become a symbolic way of showing power, grace, and control. Kids looking to emulate their favorite home run hitters may start picking up this habit, but Gordon advises that both hands should stay on the bat in the follow-through.
“I think [doing] that frees up my body and keeps me loose,” Gordon says. “When game time comes around, I don’t always do that, because the adrenaline is pumping and maybe I let go of the bat. But, I think in batting practice, it’s a good technique: swing with two hands and keep your upper body loose.”
Hands Inside the Ball
Next is a suggestion that might be a little bit harder to incorporate into your swing, but can provide even greater benefit. At high levels of the game, pitchers’ fastballs regularly reach 80 miles per hour and above – or way above that mark in professional leagues.
This means the amount of time for a hitter to actually make contact with the ball is only a split-second, requiring a great sense of timing.
Even beyond just the fastball, numerous different pitches bring movement and velocity changes that a hitter must keep up with.
Gordon’s solution to this problem is to keep his hands “inside of the ball.” This means, rather than reaching with the bat and extending it horizontally through the strike zone, Gordon keeps his hands’ pivot point as close to his body as possible. As a result, his swing is more contained at an acute angle when he initiates it. This keeps the barrel of his bat in the strike zone for more time than a reaching swing would.
“I’m trying to keep the hands inside the ball – go the other way [with the ball], go up the middle, and keep the bat in the zone as long as possible,” says Gordon. “If my hands go [out in front of my body], that’s going to keep the bat in the zone longer to adjust to curveballs or changeups.
If I’m casting away [from my body], the bat is not going to be in there for long. That tends to lead to rollovers and lazy pop flies.”
In addition, keeping your hands behind your swing gives your torso and legs more time to generate the power needed to smash the ball.
Don’t forget to come back next week! We’ll outline a few of the most useful and beneficial hitting drills. These are great practice situations in which to incorporate some of the above advice from Alex Gordon, so round up your bucket of baseballs and stay tuned!
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