Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 4/5/13
Lucas Duda has made some changes. Though you’ll recognize the syntax from our look at Domonic Brown and his swing changes, Duda’s changes are more subtle. You might not even see them the first time around. But look a little closer — or, earlier — and you might notice a difference in approach. Maybe it’ll allow the big guy to tap into his power better this year. Dave Hudgens, the Mets hitting coach, agrees that it’s not easy to nail down exactly what has changed. The two of them “did not mess with the position of his hands” once he was swinging. They did work on “getting his front foot down a little earlier,” but that wasn’t all of it either. In a quote to Marc Carig at Newsday, Duda himself said the swing was a result of compromise with his hitting coach, saying that “movement is part” of his swing, but now “it’s minimized.” Hudgens said it was less of a compromise and more of a collaborative work in progress. Let’s take a look at the swing itself. The swing on the left is from a September 23rd game produced a double against the Marlins, the swing on the right is from the double he hit Wednesday. Hard to tell a difference. Maybe his foot action is a little different, but once his swing gets going this season, it looks virtually identical to his swing last season. “When you make changes, sometimes you overexaggerate at first,” Hudgens admitted, but maintained that there has been one focus all along this spring. If Lucas can “get into position to hit earlier,” he’s more ready to recognize the pitch. It’s about movement, yes. But it’s about the movement before the pitch. Let’s take a look now at the moments before the pitch arrives. One the left is the same at-bat September 23rd, but on the right we’ll have to take a look at the pitch before the pitch Duda hit out Wednesday. Blame the new catcher-butt view. Now the difference becomes a bit starker. There’s less waggle on the right. He seems to be honing in on the ready position faster. It’s all less… busy. Hitters work with their hitting coaches daily, and so it’s hard to get a grasp on a young hitter’s swing on a daily basis. But when their words link up with what you can see in the pictures, you might be able to say with confidence — yeah, these two guys are working on limiting his pre-pitch movement. They want him ready, quicker. It makes sense — if you’re brain is working on getting into the ready position, it’s not working on recognizing the pitch. If Lucas Duda has a big year this season, it might just be because he’s shaved a few seconds off of his pre-pitch routine.
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