Mookie Betts has been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last decade beyond a shadow of a doubt
He combines unique bat to ball skills and plate discipline that you don't often see in today's game. Over his career, Mookie only swings at pitches outside the zone 19.8% of the time (league average is 30%) while is contact percentage on pitches in the zone is 93% (league average is 87%)
This produces tremendous offensive value for him. Looking at his basic offensive stats for his career:
Career BA: .293
Career OBP: .368
Career SLG: .520
You can see from the graphic from Baseball Savant ( https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/mookie-betts-605141?stats=statcast-r-hitting-mlb ) below that his is in the top percentiles in the league as an offensive EXCEPT in one category. He lacks top end exit velocity potential
What does this mean?
Unfortunately, father time catches up to everyone, and whats the first thing to go as a hitter? Your ability to produce rotational speed and power. I've said this before on Twitter. On the back end of Albert Pujols' (and every other great hitter) career, he didn't forget how to hit. His mechanics didn't get worse. His knowledge of the game didn't disappear. He was just moving slower, plain and simple. When you don't hit the ball as harder you simply aren't as valuable of player as when you did.
As a hitter, it is about creating value for yourself, and value for your team in runs. Thats the goal, score runs.
Nick Saban on adding Value 🎯— CoachTube.com (@thecoachtube) August 22, 2021
“What are you doing every day to create value for yourself?” pic.twitter.com/z8N03Xtmn4
What Am I Supposed to Do?
Last offseason Nolan Arenado faced a similar decline in production. During the previous 5 seasons he saw his capacity to produce top end exit velocity slowly start to decline. What did he do? He turned to Driveline and weighted bats. During the 2022 season Nolan saw a 2mph gain in top end exit velocity that improved his BA by .40 points, SLG by .50 points, and wOBA by .50 points (Fangraphs: https://www.fangraphs.com/players/nolan-arenado/9777/stats?position=3B). These are huge gains in player value in one season!
So where did Mookie Turn? You guess it. Driveline and weighted bat training,
#Dodgers Mookie Betts said his trip to Driveline was because “my employed told me to” and that trip resulted in them telling him to add more strength so he came in stronger this year, weighing about 8 more pounds than he did last season.— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) February 16, 2023
Hitters at every level can benefit from added body weight, and added strength. This alone will improve your capacity to produce bat speed. Being stronger is always a good thing (How strong should I be?)
After buying a Hittrax in 2016 and seeing in cage exit velocity for the first time ever, I noticed one thing. We weren't improving our players ability to hit the ball harder. After digging into all the studies done on weighted bats you realize that in every single one of them all the players improved their bat speed! ALL OF THEM!
The weighted bats were implemented in different ways but overall everybody improved their ability to swing the bat fast.
You don't have to have any sort of advanced programming to get started either. In all the studies the players landed between 100-150 swings per day, 5 days a week. Do that.
Will it pay off for Mookie?
In this video you can see how Mookie implements the Axe Bat Trainers, as well as using a bat sensor to deliberately focus on how fast he is swinging the bat every swing, with a top end goal set (70mph for him) that he is trying to meet and beat.
By adding weighted bats and being intentionally focused on swinging the bat fast every rep Mookie hopes to add the needed top end power potential that will elevate his game even further this season.
The early returns are promising
What do you need to get started?
Not much, honestly.
You can certainly buy the weighted bat trainers, but you can also take any bat and turn it into a weighted bat trainer (here) and off you go.
In each study done on weighted bats, they were implemented in different ways and every way worked to improve bat speed. So there isn't a real specific way to use them other than try to land between 100-150 swings per day, 5 days per week
This can be added in to the batting practice you already do as a high school or youth coach!
All it takes is an effort and a desire to help players be as good as they can be.