Sean Casey talks at bat approach with Josh Donaldson.
Sean Casey sure seams excited to have this interview (video above) with Josh Donaldson and its no wonder with over 120 home runs to his name Josh, this 3 time All Star is a force to be reckoned with in the batters box.
The Hitting Evolution of Josh Donaldson
“Honestly it came to a point where I had to find out what was comfortable for me.”
Early in his career Josh experimented with many different batting styles. Amidst all the different advice he received from hitting coaches over the years, he eventually came to a point where he had to find a style that was comfortable for him and let that be the foundation of his own hitting style.
Where does he start?
Set up | Leg Kick
When he is setting up, Josh stresses the importance of being engaged into your back hip and not your back knee. His reason for this is all about balance.
When you are engaged in your back hip you have better balance then when you put all your weight into your back knee. When you are locked into your knee, you will naturally want to jump forward. This can get hitters into a lot of trouble with off-speed pitches.
Josh points out that when you are engaged in your back hip, after your leg kick up, you are more balanced and it allows you to control when you put your foot back down. Based on the type of pitch you are facing, you may need to put your foot down immediately or delay putting it down for a second.
Sean Casey points out, “That it’s not always about ‘get that foot down early’, it’s about be on time!”
It’s key for any hitter to work on recognizing the pitch because it’s essential to your timing. So being on time at the plate is all about recognizing the pitch you are facing. If it’s a fast ball, get your foot down early. If it’s an off-speed pitch you have more time and can adjust accordingly.
So what is Josh’s advice for recognizing identifying pitch?
Having a Soft Focus at the Plate
Keeping a soft focus on the pitcher will help you not only feel relaxed at the plate but also help you recognize the type of pitch better.
Josh references Manny Ramirez for his almost lazy at bat approach. If you are straining to see the pitch it makes you more tense and “stabby” at the ball.
Manny Ramirez had the rhythm that Josh strives for. Instead of always grinding at the batters box, he says Manny often looked “bored at the plate” like his 555 home runs were no big deal.
So, how does Josh get this calm when he’s about to hit?
“So when I am hitting, no matter if I’m off a tee or if I’m in a game, I want to feel like I have some kind of tempo.”
Who would have guessed music could be such an asset to your hitting strategy? It makes sense when you take into account what Sean Casey said earlier, “… be on time.”
Josh says “he loves to hit to music”. It gives him that rhythm or “tempo” at the plate that helps him stay calm and focused.
It’s also important for hitters to remember they need to put the work in. There is no substitute for experience. The more time you spend with a bat in your hand, the more you will see the natural rhythm in hitting and feel what great hitters feel (like Manny) when they are relaxed at the plate.
By the way, that tee Donaldson is using is #3 on our list of top 5 batting tees.
“This is how you become the MVP right here. You put the work in, you listen to the tunes, you get the rythm and you put up humungous numbers.” -Sean Casey