Nomar Mazara has continued hitting the baseball out the ballpark with a pair of home runs for the Texas Rangers (#9 and #10), the latter being a walk-off in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Detroit Tigers. Having hit double digit home runs in early May, we have seen a surge that has paced him to already half of the homers he hit during the entire 2017 and 2016 seasons. At 23-years old and featuring some physicality, there is reason to believe that Mazara has a chance to be a very special player.
One of the separators with his loading sequence is the ability for him to load his hands independent of his shoulders. The loading action allow him to create some freedom and sets his front-side connection.
Looking at the style of his loading sequence, we can note the lead elbow and lead knee position at the top of the gather. One of the first swing comps that comes to mind is a former left-handed hitting Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton. While the comparison does not mean I am predicting a MLB caliber season, the movements simply resemble another left-handed hitting/left-handed throwing Ranger of recent memory.
From an upper body perspective, you can see the independent loading action in Hamilton's barrel. This momentum and barrel control is a big part of the sequence and you can see the vertical barrel at he top of the forward "tilt". The leg lift in connection with the lead elbow timing is what begins the process of stored energy. From their, the unloading sequence allows for the rear leg to uncoil and fire against the lead leg.
Hitting Left Handed Pitching
So far this season, Mazara is off to a much better start hitting against left handed pitchers from both a power and average perspective. Last season, he hit .228 against lefties with just one home run while he is currently off to a .277 clip against lefties so far this year with 3 homers and 3 doubles to date (Note: he had 8 extra-base hits total in 2017 v. LHP). While this is an extremely small sample size, when we see a left-handed hitter managing to drive the baseball against left-handed pitchers, it tells us something in regards to managing pitch sequences as well as the swing itself.
One of the things to note when examining the pitching sequences vs. left-handed pitchers, we see that there has been a consistency to execute fastballs low and away in the zone as well as an attempt to elevate fastballs up in the zone. With off-speed, the trend has been similarly to expand the bottom corner of the zone away and off as a means to get him to chase. There is also a target of breaking balls that are finishing middle and slightly off of the inside part of the plate. What we see often times is left-handed pitchers trying to set up left-handed hitters with fastballs down and away only to throw a breaking ball to the same window and have it work off/slightly off of the plate. If the hitter is looking pull-side or is leaking that direction, you will get a swing on a below average pitch to hit. Similarly, when we see breaking balls that are missing in, there is again a play to have that appear in the same window as the fastball up in the zone. To those points, it is no surprise that those two pitch combinations are being highlighted here.
What is most impressive is Nomar's ability to remain consistent with his contact in the bottom part of the zone, most specifically the low and away corner of the strike zone. It appears that his ability to tunnel pitches to that location are allowing him to stay disciplined and lay off pitches that do not funnel themselves into that spot. That coupled with a O-Swing% that is 3-points lower than last year (O-Swing% represents swings on pitches outside of the zone), we can pair swing mechanics and approach to account for an accelerated start for Nomar.
When a left-handed hitter is driving the baseball against left-handed pitching, there are a lot of directional things happening that allow for the hitter to have an increased margin for success. Typically, left-handed same-sided combinations favor the pitcher given the lack of frequency with more right-handed pitchers in the game as well as ball trajectory. Secondly, the baseball is working away from the hitters barrel on off-speed pitches making the hitter suceptable when fooled given the ball is working further away from their barrel. The fact that he has had the ability to maintain such good posture and positioning with his upper body as well as maintain a level of connection with his arms and hands through out the swing is evidence of this.