This swing profile features one of the most prolific hitters in Major League Baseball, Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks. With a fantastic 10-day road trip featuring 4 home runs in his past 5 games, I wanted to take a deeper look into one of the loading techniques that I believe is crucial to Goldy's success. All media courtesy of MLB.com/video.
Early Gather Phase
One of the things that has always been admirable about Goldy's swing has been the consistency to which he is able to sequence his load. When we look at his loading "style", we see a definitive connection between his lower and upper half allowing for an on-time gather. The major points of emphasis and focus for me are in the lead knee and elbow. Beginning with the lead knee, we can see a slight inward turn as he initiates his lower body sequence. This allows him to get against the rear leg and begin to settle into the rear hip. Evidence of this is the rear knee beginning to "straighten" just before the sudden release of the rear hip/leg. In making this move, Goldy remains extremely centered building tension through the lower half in an extremely simplistic manner.
Looking at the upper half, one of the unique elements to his gather is the loading of his barrel. Goldy is known for having the barrel rest on his rear shoulder falling to the rear shoulder as part of his "base" or set up. In the video below, you can really see the barrel activate as he simply turns the barrel upward as the hands gather. In our academy, I prefer to use the analogy of a clock when referring to loading mechanics as the hands of a clock rotate about a fixed point. If the fixed point shifts, the accuracy of the clock hand is compromised and thus not accurate. In the swing, if we do not gather the barrel with the hands, the barrel tends to "float" in space where we lack awareness. From this analogy we see Goldy's barrel working from a "3-12" slot. While the appearance is that his hands slightly drop towards the ground, the change is body position and his spine angle is what creates that perception.
From a consistency standpoint, working through this sequence early is what allows him to be so efficient with his swing. This initial gather is what sets him up for the late "tilt" and loading of the barrel that I believe makes his swing extremely consistent and accurate.
Gather to "Tilt"
What I believe makes Paul Goldschmidt so effective is the efficiency to which he is able to work through his gather phase, thus leading to a slight barrel change of direction or "tilt" just before he launches towards commitment. To the naked eye, it can be hard to identify as it appears that he gathers to fire. But the timing sequence and early gather allow him into a controlled position to which he can then "tilt" the barrel slightly before releasing.
We have discussed this concept of the "Barrel Forearm Complex" in a previous article outlining that the barrel and forearms work as a unit in the high level swing. The forearm and hands work together to load the barrel of the bat and control the sequence. You can see in the video below, once Goldy has achieved is gather position in time, he then tilts his forearm and as a result the barrel has a slight tilt forward. This momentum is paramount for him in regards to creating depth and speed in his swing. It allows for the barrel to then release around his hands once his rear elbow descends towards his rear hip.
With such a subtle and late movement that I believe is a huge piece to his success, it is important to value the timing and of his gather in that if he is not in time he cannot have the late tilt responsible for his depth and barrel awareness.