Jeff at Swingtraining.net uses video to break down Jeff Francoeur’s swing, using Manny Ramirez as a comparison. Here are some interesting findings, but you’ll need to visit the site, which is excellent, to see the video.
This is a good time to distinguish quickness from bat speed. Notice they arrive at the ball at the same time, however, since Francoeur plants his foot earlier, this is an indication that he has to get his bat going earlier in order to get to the same spot (contact). Again, Francoeur generates all kinds of bat speed, it is just taking him a little too long to do so. This opens the door to conversations about his plate discipline, etc. Very conceivable from this video example that Francoeur could be a player who hits for a lot of power, along with a lot of K’s and not many walks. The longer it takes a player to execute his swing, the less time he has to decide whether or not to swing. In other words, a quicker swing allows a player to see a pitch longer, committ later, thus allows him to make better decisions on whether to swing or not. A quick swing that generates significant bat speed, like Manny, affords the opportunity to hit for power and average…and who doesn’t love that?!
And what about the anatomy of the swing?
Francoeur’s hips are MUCH farther open. WAAAAY farther open. And also notice the angle of his bat. While I have nearly 3000 clips of MLB hitters, this bat angle at time of footplant is by far the most horizontal, bat head pointing towards pitcher, that I have seen – and there really is not anything else like it that I remember seeing. Again this shows how much bat speed he is generating, since he does catch up by contact, but look how much farther his bat has to travel. No wonder he has to start his swing early! The lower body really just looks like it gets the heck out of the way so he can whip it through with his arms. I buy that he has a 4 handicap – would love to see him hit a few off the tee!
Long story short – it takes Francoeur too much time to create his bat speed. More efficiency means a quicker swing with minimal, if any, loss in bat speed.
I’m not sure whether this is encouraging or discouraging for the future, but it’s very interesting. Either there is a quick fix or he has an unsolvable problem. I think it explains why he gets hit so frequently. He’s got to start early on high and inside pitches and doesn’t have time to get out of the way.