Mike Bryant, dad to Most Valuable Player Kris Bryant is a former Red Sox farmhand who was influenced by Ted Williams in the batting cages and now a professional hitting instructor in Las Vegas. My son Sammy and I had the honor to meet Mike and he is an exceptional kind and generous human with a deep passion for teaching baseball. His words of wisdom have already started to shape Sammy.
They recently interviewed him on Cubs Insider and published a 4 part series. I’ll provide snippets from each article and you can head there and read them all or listen to the recorded interview for each.
In part 1, he talks about how he worked with Kris in the off season to not miss so many pitches and strike out less:
He talks about how to use the Zepp 3D Swing Analyzer & their analytics, which measures pretty much all the angles in the swing.
What it measures, it has a 3D swing plane and it has two lines. It shows you a hand path and a barrel path and then it puts numbers to it — bat speed, time to impact, hand speed — and it’ll show you the vertical angle on the bat and the attack angle on the bat. The vertical angle, if you can visualize, if you hold the bad straight across the plate in front of you that would be zero and then if you point it straight down at the ground that would be 90…
…Kris is kind of more towards the Trout side, 38 degrees, and if you point it down at 38 degrees you’ll create a hole in your swing on the outer part of the plate. Or you’ll have a hard time squaring up balls because you’re just not coming in at a good angle because of the movement of the ball. So what you’re trying to do is match the bat path to the ball path best as you can. So we reduced Kris’s vertical angle through hard work from about 38 down to about 25.
Players Kris’s age improve their contact rates by about 1 to 2 percent the following year. That’s basically the average. Kris last year improved his contact rate by 7 percent, so we’re talking almost a four-fold increase over what usually happens.
In part 2, Mike shares what today’s baseball executives are looking for in a swing:
The second day, Kris got into the cage and he hits this missile to right center. Line drive, one-hops the fence, and he comes out of the cage on the first swing and one of the guys says, “What are you doing? You hurt?” Kris says, “No, no.” He said, “Coach says anybody, if they don’t hit the ball on the ground to get the hell out of the cage.”
So this guy’s jaw hits the ground. We don’t want to bad-mouth any coaches here, seriously, but the exec says, “Get the hell back in there. We didn’t draft you to hit frickin’ ground balls to the right side.”
In part 3, he talk hitting thought processes:
I think there’s this thought process where people want to, and correct me if I’m wrong, they want to just decrease strikeouts because strikeouts are bad. But sometimes when people decrease strikeouts, they compensate and they lose power and they hit more weak batted balls and they don’t really maximize their value.
It’s pretty remarkable that you’re able to increase your contact but you increase your better contact. I think that’s a goal that should be taught. Don’t just increase your contact for the hell of it. Don’t just go opposite field to go opposite field. Do it with purpose. Do it to hit better contact, right?
In part 4, he shares some of the challenges bringing up a future major league baseball player:
You got kids or whatever, you can teach them because you can acquire knowledge and become a really good coach, teacher, having not played.
The best part, is that Mike is now sharing some of his wisdom on his new website. Check out his latest post.