Wil Myers took the league by storm last season, hitting .293/.354/.478 (131 wRC+) and wining the AL Rookie of the Year award despite playing in just 88 games. Myers’ best asset is his bat speed- it is among the best in baseball. But he uses a very unconventional swing to take advantage of this bat speed. Is his unconventional swing genius, or does he have a flaw that needs improvement?
Where Myers’ swing is unconventional is in his upper half. Generally hitters use their lower half to generate all of the power behind their swing, but Myers also uses his upper body to add power to his swing. He does this by pivoting his upper body more quickly than you will see from other hitters. His front shoulder flies up and out of his swing earlier than a “conventional” swing would do. Thus, his upper body does add pop. But while this does add pure force to a swing, it is usually frowned upon for hitters to do because it causes a multitude of problems. It causes a players’ bat path to be completely thrown off, giving them a much higher chance of making poor contact. The flaw usually causes huge timing issues, and makes it hard to adjust to off-speed pitches. Almost every hitter that uses their upper body like Myers is not a successful hitter.
The thing about Myers is that he has somehow managed to hide these problems despite the “flaw” in his swing. Therefore, he has taken something that is generally considered bad for you swing and turned it into a way to generate power. He does this with his outstanding hands. Somehow, despite the rest of his upper body completely being thrown up and out of his swing, his hands stay in a great position. 999/1000 cases in which a player’s upper body mimics Myers’, his hands will not be in a position to successfully hit the ball. Yet, Myers keeps his hands back until the last possible second (which generates power), and keeps his bat through the zone for a long time (which allows him to make good contact even if his timing is slightly off). It is hard to truly appreciate how great Myers’ hands are to ensure they stay in a good position in his swing, and because of it he can add power to his swing without causing major problems.
The one area where this does hurt Myers is in his ability to hit pitches that are outside and low in the zone. We saw a stretch last season where he looked lost at the plate- and that was because pitchers figured out that if they throw him pitches outside and low, he is at best going to make weak contact. This flaw definitely hasn’t undone his swing, and he posted great numbers last season despite pitchers continually pounding him low-and-away. He takes such good advantage of pitches elsewhere in the zone that he is still successful, but as he continues along in the big leagues he is going to need to make sure that this flaw does not cause major problems.
Wil Myers is indeed a mechanical genius. He has taken something that is generally considered a flaw in a swing and turned it into a way to add power to his swing. He does have to be weary of pitchers burning him too bad on pitches low-and-away, and he might end up having to be less exaggerated with his upper half if they start to do so. His swing isn’t perfect- he still has work to do with his lower half- but so far, it has produced great results, and Myers should be a run producer in the Rays’ lineup for years to come.