JABO: George Springer, Fastballs, and Effort

It takes a lot of muscle to square up a big fastball. In the case of George Springer, it might also take some relaxation.

Heading into the series that had the Astros in town, I asked hitting consultant and FanGraphs author Dan Farnsworth about a few of the Astros hitters as part of my research process. About Springer, Farnsworth said “I like his swing a lot, perhaps except for the excessive effort he has sometimes.” I didn’t get to talk to Springer, but I did talk to his hitting coach Dave Hudgens, and that word came up again.

Apparently, though, excessive effort is not a problem in batting practice. Take a look at the swings he took that day in batting practice, and they do look free and easy.

In game, it’s tough to get the same side view. But here in this package of highlights about Springer’s five-RBI night against the Padres, you might see some more effort.

And then there’s the problem that most videos are highlight videos, when the player is acting optimally. But here’s a side-view of a Springer at-bat in minor league camp, and in a swing before the home run, you can see what might be called effort issues. (And another, here, from the majors, with some slow mo.)

Of course, we’re talking bout batting practice, which is a two-fold problem.

For one, hitters are often working on parts of their swing that aren’t their best features. Farnsworth pointed out that Ian Kinsler’s batting practices are full of squibbers to first base, and then come game time, Kinsler is hitting frozen ropes to left field, his pull field. Despite the fact that scouts take a lot of knowledge away from batting practice, you wouldn’t want to assume Kinsler was a light-hitting opposite-field guy after watching him in BP.

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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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