I’m warm, but not too hot. I can get away with a hoodie and some shorts today. I grab my stopwatch and water bottle and head toward the track. The slight breeze crosses my face and I cross the parking lot from the main building of the school out to the track for practice.
“Hey Coach, what kind of workout do we have today?” an athlete asks as they are passing me.
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll get there when we get there.”
As I approach the typical meeting spot underneath the bleachers before we get onto the track, I see some of the athletes kicking soccer balls and throwing frisbees. “Hey, get that out of here! You know the head coach doesn’t like seeing that crap!” The athletes laugh and put the stuff away before the head coach shows up.
Then we see a few athletes off to the side laughing and giggling. The captain shouts “Everyone get over there, we’re playin’ ball!”
The entire team ran over to the few students playing wiffle ball. I don’t think we actually got our track workout in. I think we spent all practice playing wiffle ball.
The spring season symbolizes new beginnings, growth and rebirth. We are finally underway with a new season of baseball and, for myself, it’s a new season of outdoor track for the high school where I coach. On that day, about a week ago, the entire team had fun playing wiffle ball instead of the track workout that was planned. I loved seeing the athletes stand in the batter’s box and emulate batting stances of current players while us coaches stepped in to emulate batting stances of the past.
In light of that moment I shared with the team, I wanted to go over the three batting stances that I like to emulate while I’m playing wiffle ball before a track practice or at a summer BBQ.
3. Ichiro Suzuki
There’s no doubt in my mind that Ichiro is the best player I’ve ever seen play while attending a game. Just a phenomenal baseball player. I’ll always relish the experience of seeing this hitting machine constantly base after his very simple, iconic setup in the box and calm stare towards the pitcher with his front arm extended, holding the bat straight up while using his left hand to give a slight tug on his jersey. His feet were looked way too close together; he looked almost crammed in the box. His front leg was turned inward while the back leg looked strong, yet relaxed. Damn, that was just cold. Ichiro is undoubtedly one of my favorite stances to emulate. Especially when I decide to try and hit lefthanded, knowing damn well I’m a right handed batter.
2. Craig Counsell
I’ve got a soft spot for this one, as this player was not particularly great. But Craig Counsell is a batting stance I find myself emulating all the time. Nice wide stance and you’re basically smelling your armpit with how high he raised his hands over his head. I still don’t understand how or why he elected to go this route for a batting stance, and I want to know what his hitting coaches were telling him. Unlike Ichiro, who posted a career MLB batting average of .311, Counsell was a career .255 hitter. Maybe his batting stance had something to do with that?
The Jeff Bagwell stance. Squatting down nice and low, feeling all the power in your legs makes you feel like you can crank the ball just like he did. Bagwell had 449 home runs and 488 doubles over 15 seasons. His squat also gives you the power to call everything a ball because you’re giving the pitcher such a small strike zone. Bagwell’s stance did lead to 1,401 walks, after all. Bagwell always had impressive power and the ability to get on base, so why not emulate a guy that won Rookie of the Year as well as an MVP award?
1. Rickey Henderson
Rickey Henderson had a tendency to do things his own way. He had speed, style, and a very memorable batting stance. Similar to Bagwell, Rickey drew a lot of walks. However, he didn’t squat down super low. He stood up, but he really dipped his front shoulder down low. It’s something I’ve never seen before. Rickey is known for having the all-time stolen bases record, 1,406, which Joey is worried could be broken with the new rules he discussed on last week’s episode of the Bleacher Brawls Rivalry podcast. The 2,190 walks he drew surely helped get him there. Whenever I stand in, bent slightly over at the waist with my front shoulder dipped, I just think about making contact and hustling down to first. From there, I just think about speed. Rickey might be one of the best baseball players ever if you look past the bias towards home run hitters and ace pitchers.
Yes, I left Gary Sheffield off this list. A very memorable batting stance where he waves the bat around in the air like Dikembe Mutombo waving his finger after a block! Very memorable, but it’s just not one that I mimic when I’m in the box. But next wiffle ball game or company softball game, try one of these stances and let me know how it goes. Also, leave your favorite batting stances to use in the comments.
Your Boy, Barnes