The Batter's EyeMay 18, 2007
Getting Wright
By Jeff Albert

There's a new A-Rod in New York. His name is David Wright. After stellar, career-launching seasons in 2005 and 2006, Wright has seen somewhat of a power outage from the latter half of 2006 spill over into a full-blown slump in 2007. I didn't really realize the magnitude of the situation until I typed in "David Wright slump" into my search engine. Apparently all heck has broken out as the Mets blogoshpere tries to speculate about what's wrong. For the first time, I've even read about whether or not Wright is "clutch." So after commenting on what it would be like to have A-Rod at Shea, it appears Wright is getting his own A-Rod treatment. (Okay, enough about A-Rod already!)

I previously used Wright's swing as an example for comparison of other young hitters and I would not have imagined that his swing could have changed that much. Why mess with success, right? Even manager Willie Randolph said recently that Wright's mechanics are "pretty sound." But I imagined wrong... way wrong... and I was really surprised to see some major differences in the way Wright is swinging the bat. Randolph suggested that there was a "fine line" with his mechanics, and if so, Wright is quite a ways from wherever that line used to be.

Here is a look at two angles, front and side, with 2006 on the left and 2007 on the right. The 2007 clip is from the same swing, a double to left-center on a 93 mph fastball. The 2006 clips are also fastballs (front/top view is also 93 mph), hit for homers into left-center:

There is plenty to look at here so I will break it up into a few segments...

Bat Angle

Starting with the front view on the top, the first thing that jumped out at me was the bat angle. It is much more vertical. While I am aware that some very knowledgeable hitting coaches teach a vertical bat position, it seems detrimental here - too much for too long. Holding the bat vertically can alleviate some muscle tension early in the swing because the bat feels lighter in that position, but eventually the bat has to get in line with the rotating shoulders and this is where Wright seems to be struggling. Starting the bat vertically and bat position at launch are quite different. If a hitter is not in a good position to hit, it is going to be hard for him to hit. Simple enough. Here's the look at how the bat angle at "launch position" has changed:

Swing Path

Ted Williams advocated a swing path that was slightly up through the ball, and Wright looked to have this going for him last year. The result of such a swing path is usually a "high" finish because the bat comes through in a plane similar (about parallel) to that of the shoulders. You'll see in both clips, however, a follow through that I would term "excessively high," especially in relationship to his previous swing.

This is an indicator that his swing plane might be too steep (in an upward direction) which can hinder momentum transfer. As if that weren't enough, this increased "uppercut" can also create that dreaded topspin - perhaps just enough to keep some long fly balls from leaving the ball park. Could this account for his increasing ground ball rate and drop in homer production? Seems logical.

Lower Body

Now let's use the side shot to focus in on the lower half and how this relates to setting up a good hitting position. Of course the major visible difference is the stride - Wright is now going with a miniature leg kick. I had not seen much of Wright's swing this year until recently, but apparently this has already been pointed out. If you're familiar with my previous articles, you may have picked up that I view the stride, as it is traditionally defined, to be more of a surface observation, but often a very useful symptom to other issues.

Take a look at just the side view and see what you think.

It took me a while to warm up to how early Wright used to get his front foot down, but I got on board because it did not appear to hinder his load-unload process. In other words, he used it to provide balance as he shifted into footplant. It looks to me like Wright used to have more flex in the knees and was able to carry his forward shift for a longer duration. This is important because it sets up the weight against the front foot and tightens the sequence of the kinetic chain... or simply put, it quickens the unloading of his swing.

The way Wright's stride appears now, he is reaching more with the front leg which leaves a little more weight behind when his hips begin to rotate. The shot above shows his front knee opening up just a bit sooner in 2007 - less efficient rotation as a result of the "stride" and positioning of the body.

What to do?

If Wright and the Mets' staff are confident in his mechanics, then there is no need to jump ship so quickly. Maybe Wright went out and tried to change some things on his own, but this may be a case of trying to do a little too much. More is not always better.

Really I would just try to retrace the steps as closely as possible to the period last year when he was most successful. I know I am sitting in a Louisiana classroom and not a Major League dugout, but it makes the most sense to me. I did not come across anything explaining the reasoning behind making drastic swing changes, but maybe there is a method to the madness that I am not aware of. Changing that bat angle back to the 45-degree ballpark would be an easy enough adjustment, and returning to that "no-stride" approach, a la Andruw Jones during his 51 homer season, would seem like the next step.

Surely, with the Yankees coming to town, now would be a good time for Wright to reassert himself while in the national spotlight.


I think Wright just needs to keep getting swings in...he'll be alright. In the meantime, hes been part of the "dismal duo"-along with Mark Texiera-who have been letting my fantasy team down all season. Best of luck.

I think David is out of the slump at this point. Since the start of May, he's hitting .328 with 4 HR, 14 RBI, and a .962 OPS.

Wright is certainly a good enough athlete to "swing" is way out of it. Actually, it looks like that is literally what he is doing - his OBP has actually dropped by 17 as his slg.% has about doubled and avg. increased by over 80 points since May began. He is getting his hacks in for sure.

For refernce, the 2007 clip was from May 8th.

The leg kick is what I noticed first. In my opinion, he's more than likely very aware of his slump, so he's a little overeager. Consequently, he's lost a little of his patience, and he's jumping at the ball. He's probably overswinging too. The leg kick and the overswinging jostle the head and move the hands. He's just pushing himself too much. He's plenty strong enough and quick enough to hit the ball hard without the kick as he has proved in the past. He should take a chill pill, go back to the negligible leg kick, know that he's the man and let his talent take over. That'll be a hundred dollars, please.

Most of the looks like differences in the camera angles to me.

It seems like David is not keeping his head in on the swing (his 07 head motion tends to fly up and out). He needs to work on his "chin and shoulder"
so he get's the best look at the ball.

As Jason said, Wright is out of his slump now. With Delgato coming out of his slump and getting two game winning hits in the last series, the Mets offence is looking near invincible.

It seems to me like this article might have been written a week or two late.

wright's performance his picked up noticeably since the start of may. 7 HR, including 3 this past weekend against the yankees, 6 2Bs etc. The only troubling thing is the drop in walks, but even that is being countered by the extra hits. In retrospect, it seems quite likely that the hit streak, the post all-star break power outage, and maybe even some pressure to improve his plate discipline were just making wright press a little too hard. It will be interesting to see if he can keep the AVG and SLG percentages up near 2005/2006 levels while adding some plate discipline (say 80-90 walks). If he can do that, wright could become one of the 5 or 10 best players in the league. On the other hand, his walks actually went DOWN from 2005 to 2006 despite receiving 11 more intentional walks last year, so maybe he is one of those guys who can be hit for average and power OR be selective, but not both.

And while the leg kick and follow-through angle are clearly different, the fact that we are looking at 3 different swings, all filmed from different camera positions in different parks makes me a bit skeptical of the various, minor positional differences. Also, even though the speed of the pitches in each clip is mentioned, are the shots synched to the release of the pitch? Who were the pitchers and might their repective deliveries have anything to do with wright's swing? I don't mean to suggest that this type or analysis is not helpful (either in general or specifically in this case), just that I would like more information the methodology.

Also, wright's GB/FB ratio is definitely up from last year; but that just puts him right back in line with the 2005 numbers, so which figure represents the 'real' david wright, and which is the anomaly?

right, would have been more useful to get this done during April. Wright has it going this month, and talented players usually figure things out. Maybe Wright continues success with his "new" swing, and that is fine. But the changes should hopefully be fairly evident - I try not to pick topics that can be discounted by issues like camera angle, pitch location, etc.

About the clips, and this goes for just about all of these, I can only work with what I have. And what I have is NOT an unlimited supply of video of each and every one of these guys' swings.

I address this in almost every article - pitch type, location, camera angle, and I try to match them up as close as possible.

These are synched to ball contact by the way.