For those of you that don’t know, New York Yankees legendary shortstop Derek Jeter has a specific agenda this spring: he’s changing his swing. All I can say is, what took him so long?
Jeter has shifted to a stride-less swing that has been effective for the likes of Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and countless patrons of the Mid-Valley Batting Cage.
It’s clear that Jeter’s swing wasn’t working for him, as it’s only allowed him to collect 2,926 hits. Imagine how many he would have if he hadn’t been wasting so much effort by striding this whole time!
All kidding aside, I do find it rather strange that Jeter is choosing this juncture in his career to make a significant change to his swing. Hitters tweak their swings all the time, but it’s usually something small like hand placement, closing the front shoulder, or moving a little closer to the plate. Rarely do you see established hitters (especially Hall of Famers) do something radical like eliminating a stride altogether. It could be a wise move for Jeter, who is coming off the worst season of his career (.270/.340/.370, although he did score 111 runs), but it could also backfire.
Jeter’s leg kick is crucial to his timing, and if the timing is off it’s nearly impossible to hit major league pitching. So eliminating the stride simplifies things and allows him to rely more on his quick hands. You can relate it to a basketball player like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, who relied on athleticism earlier in his career but had to shift to a more crafty, stationary game later on– equally as effective, but just a different approach.
On the other hand, hitters are notorious for being “in their own domes,” and something as big as a swing change can seriously mess with their minds. In the article it says that Jeter has already been thinking about his mechanics too much when he’s at the plate, and that’s something that’s hard to stop once it starts. Spring training is obviously the ideal time to work on it, but if it doesn’t start producing some results in the next few weeks I wouldn’t be surprised to see him revert to his old swing as the season draws near.
Either that or he’ll try turning his head away from the pitcher and towards the backstop. When it’s time for a change, it’s time for a change.