Ackley's Low Elbow, Quick Wrists
An exciting evolution in his swing


This one could be sweet, an item that we track all season long.


1.  No idea where the Lookout Landing homies got a Spring Training vid of Ackley's homer - maybe Logan or Colin will enlighten us.  But here is a replay of Ackley's long HR to CF today.  Thanks LL.


2.  If Ackley's swing looked different?  That's because it is.  Ackley carries a low elbow and a very quiet upper body throughout the swing.

You may need to pause-itty pause pause the little video to see the low elbow and still upper body.

That keeps him shorter (and quicker) to the ball, and it also keeps his head quieter.  That (effectively) turns a 95 fastball into a 90 fastball, and it means the baseball isn't moving around like a Pop-a-Shot basketball arcade game, relative to his eyes.

Of all the classical checkpoints in a baseball swing ... Dr. D specializes in elbow position as such.  The reason being, a bad right elbow ruined two or three seasons of his softball career.  It's my own personal foible in hitting.  I've spent years thinking about it.


2b.  Elbow position is VERY controversial.  

Many people will try to tell you that Ackley did have a "high elbow" on this swing simply because it bobbed up for a brief moment "at toe touch." Many people, however, would be wrong.

People try to argue that the only elbow moment that counts, is the position at toe touch.  But!  The average position of Ackley's elbow during the whole swing, and especially as he accelerates the bat, is:  "Unusually close to his ribs."  The fact that it bobbed up for a moment and then back down, BEFORE he accelerated the bat, is not germane.

The higher the average position of the elbow, the longer the swing, the slower you are relative to the pitch, and the more power you get.


2c.  Therefore, Ackley's swing -- from an elbow standpoint -- is tantamount to a "punch and judy" swing, a "pepper" swing -- one you use to catch up to an Aroldis Chapman fastball.


3.  So how in the world!! Did Ackley go ten miles to straightaway center?  With a pepper swing?


Go back and look at the video again.  Look at (1) the angle of the bat, pointed at the pitcher, at launch position.  It's extreme, but not exaggerated like it was when he was a rookie.

Look at (2) the way he sweeps the bat through the launch zone, over to point at the 1B dugout, based on wrist power alone.

Then you are in position to take in the whole swing, to appreciate how much of his batspeed is generated by his wrists and forearms.  Here is a sample golf article on the subject.  Golfers don't use biceps and pectorals, the way Mike Napoli and Corey Hart do.  They use wrists and forearms (and knees), the way Dustin Ackley just did.


3b.  These three stills, maybe, give you a sense of his suddenness, the way his bat sweeps through into deceleration, while his hands are still close to his body.  Or not.


5.  Ackley's always had the Edgar-like wrists.  He's always had the #2 first round draft talent.  

When he was a rookie, SSI made a big deal of Ackley's wrist hinge, but as it turned out, the entire swing package was too long, too ambitious, too "greedy."  That doesn't mean baseball doesn't value glorious wrists (Hank Aaron, Edgar Martinez, Alvin Davis, etc.).  It could just mean that the OTHER aspects of Ackley's swing were getting in his way, or at least not jelling for him.

It could be the case that Dustin Ackley has now stripped down his swing to emphasize his wrists properly.  Perhaps he has translated his NCAA swing to an MLB(TM) swing.

Or, not.  

We'll watch it,

Dr D




Looks like he is keeping the belt buckle left of 2b as well... I guess that would go along also with a more disciplined less greedy swing as well? Has he always done that or is that new too?


Haven't checked video from last year, but he looks like he is keeping his front shoulder back distinctly better, yes.
Saunders, you recall, that was his *biggest* key, the front shoulder flying out because of the over-eagerness for success.  Smoak gets too long.  No idea why the Mariners' younger players think life comes so easy.
Contrast Seager, who emphasizes his belief that a hitter can't try to do too much at the plate, especially with RISP.

portablestanzas's picture

The M's have a virtual pressbox that media members have access to.
Somehow, we fooled them and made the cut.
-by Colin O'Keefe on Mar 2, 2014 | 1:46 PM

RockiesJeff's picture

Jeff, you know the classic sketches of Ben Hogan with the plane of glass across his shoulders. Match that with Homer Kelley and the angles, etc and you realize that golf like baseball requires natural skill maxed by clean physics to reach one's potential. A good golfer hits down, through until the follow-through has full extension. For a right handed golfer the right hand/arm are key for power and pulling the club through on plane. The baseball swing differs slightly hitting a moving ball with more moving parts. Sadly I mostly see the quick results from the box scores from a distance but those swings of Ackley look super. Looks like he drilled a 1-iron right down the middle.
You know the guy has great hand/eye to do what he did as a Tar Heel. I would love to see box scores with a lot of multi-hit games, especially using all fields.


Always look particularly forward to your insights.
In this case the hand/eye remark ... it would sure be nice to see this tested for MLB hitters, a la the NFL combine.  I'd bet a pretty penny that Ackley's is well above even the ML standard...

RockiesJeff's picture

I agree Jeff. Do you remember how Snelling could play ping-pong by himself off the wall? Sheer God-given ability and talent. Shame his knees didn't match.
And thanks, you are way too kind! Your articles continue to be a wonderful source of information but also my relaxation! Thank you!

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.