Who has the prettiest swing in Major League Baseball?
I’m both a bleeding heart and a guy who failed to walk on to his college baseball team, so my general answer — having seen a number of very, very bad swings, many of them in my college apartment’s bedroom mirror — is that they’re all really good-looking. It’s pretty difficult to get to the major leagues with a bad swing; one of the more infamous bad swings in the majors right now is Maikel Franco’s, and he’s still hanging on despite an armbar in his stroke that’s at least partially to blame for his extremely disappointing production with the Phillies.
This doesn’t account for pitchers, of course; they make the major leagues with swings ranging from the effective — Madison Bumgarner’s, for instance, and almost certainly Shohei Ohtani’s — to the funny (hello, Bartolo!), to the swings that are just sad.
Seems like an odd choice, right? Gordon has been on the outs for two years, ever since he signed the big deal with the Royals that hasn’t really panned out. That’s not due to laziness or underlying problems with his swing, however — his bat speed has fallen way off, and the rest of his game was precarious enough that there hasn’t been much compensation for it. Anyway, here’s 2012 Alex Gordon explaining his swing:
Here’s Gordon with a random, beautiful triple:
It’s hard to find an ugly swing that ends up in a home run; for the guys who do manage it, such as Vlad Guerrero or Wily Mo Pena, that ugly swing has its own kind of beauty. But when it comes to extra base hits that stay in the park, you can get a closer look at them. That’s just a pretty gapper.
If you want a player who is tearing up the league with a gorgeous swing, Kris Bryant’s your guy. He put together back-to-back MVP-caliber years on the strength of not overwhelming strength or legendary discipline, but an amazing mechanical approach to the baseball — and you can see the growth and adjustment in the way his strikeouts have fallen: from an NL-leading 199 his rookie year to 154 in his MVP season to 128 last year. This is what the swing itself looks like:
Here’s what it looks like breaking a tie:
The prettiest swing in baseball for my money belongs to Robinson Cano. He can do anything with it, from contact plays to swinging for the fences, and he can send the ball all over the field. He can reach any part of the zone and most places outside of it — he is well over a .300 hitter for his career on strikes and hits over .250 on pitches anywhere close — and he can do it for power as well. His swing is so pretty it gets YouTube highlight reels backed in part by Marcus Stroman:
Here are some clips from the year he won his fifth Silver Slugger… back in 2013:
There are better hitters in baseball than Cano in terms of raw outcomes, and that’s only going to get more true as Cano gets older. But for my money, no one gets to enjoy watching a guy just hit more than fans of the Seattle Mariners.