Joe Mauer and the 10 Sweetest Swings in Baseball
Experts are calling the past two seasons the "Year of the Pitcher." Dominating performances by Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, and, recently, Justin Verlander and Jair Jurrjens, are capturing the baseball media.
Meanwhile, baseball's hitters are being overshadowed not only by the excellent pitching but the by the poor performances of its stars. Players like Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, and Justin Morneau seem to be stuck in slumps they can't escape. These slumps seem to be shadowing the phenomenal offensive performances this year from Paul Konerko, Matt Kemp, and Adrian Gonzalez.
I want to bring some attention back to the offensive side of the game. So here's my list of the top 10, sweetest swings in the game of baseball today.
When I say sweetest swing, I don't mean best results and statistics, although stats are still useful to support the glory of their swing. Sweetest swing means the most natural, majestic and beautiful-looking swings. Think Ken Griffey Jr. as a guideline for sweetest swing.
This is my top 10 and I hope it does a good job of bring to mind some swings you may not have thought of when you think sweetest swing.
10. Albert Pujols (tie)
Albert Pujols is arguably the greatest baseball player of the past 10 years, so it should be no surprise to find him on this list.
His swing has produced Hall of Fame results. He's already launched 428 home runs and is a .328 lifetime hitter.
However, Pujols has one of the most mechanical, machine-like swings in the game. Perhaps the SportsCenter commercial is right, he is a machine. Regardless of how machine-like Albert's swing looks, it produces results that are jaw dropping.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Braun, Chipper Jones, Jay Bruce, Ian Kinsler, Gordon Beckham
10. Brian McCann (tie)
Brian McCann has been a staple of the Braves lineup since 2005. Since his arrival, he has been arguably the best catcher in the National League.
A career .292 hitter with 128 home runs, including 24 in 2006, McCann has the ability to hit for both power and average with his Griffey Jr.-like swing.
9. David Wright
One of the best combinations of speed and power in the game today, David Wright has been the face of the New York Mets since 2004.
Wright's swing (at least to me) was made famous from his appearance in the slow motion "MLB The Show" commercial.
Wright has put up the numbers to back up the beauty of his swing. He's already hit 172 career home runs and is a career .302 hitter.
8. Hanley Ramirez
Although Hanley is having the worst year of his career, he is the best combination of speed and power in the game today.
Hanley is a .308 lifetime hitter with a 30-30 season in 2008.
His swing was best displayed in the 2010 Home Run Derby, where he finished second to David Ortiz.
7. Robinson Cano
The American League's best second baseman, Robinson Cano has quickly established himself as the best hitter in a formidable New York Yankees lineup.
Robinson's beautiful swing captured the 2011 Home Run Derby crown over Adrian Gonzalez. One can only expect more great things from Cano.
6. Ichiro Suzuki
The greatest leadoff hitter of the past decade.
Ichiro's swing has already accumulated 2347 hits and 200 hits in each of his first 10 seasons.
A lifetime .327 hitter, Ichiro is a sure bet for Cooperstown.
5. Chase Utley
Chase Utley has the shortest swing on the list, but doesn't lack the numbers.
A lifetime .292 hitter, Utley has posted three seasons of 30 home runs or more and four seasons with over 100 RBI.
When healthy, Utley is the best second baseman in the National League.
4. Evan Longoria
Longoria's swing has made an impact every since he arrived in Tampa Bay.
In his first three seasons, Longoria has hit 82 home runs and has established himself as arguably the American League's best third baseman.
3. Derrek Lee
Despite nearing the end of his great career, Derrek Lee still has one of the sweetest swings in baseball.
Nobody can drive a fastball low and away to the opposite field quite like Derrek Lee.
Lee's swing has accounted for 322 career home runs and 1,053 RBI. The pinnacle being in 2005, when Lee hit .335 with 46 home runs and 107 RBI.
2. Adrian Gonzalez
1. Joe Mauer
Growing up in Minnesota, I knew about Joe Mauer while he was still a high school phenomenon at Cretin-Derham Hall. After Mauer got drafted by the Minnesota Twins, his famous "Quickswing" hitting tool became a facet of my traveling baseball practices.
The "Quickswing" was supposed to create quick reflexes and develop hand-eye coordination to create a swing that produced the results like Joe Mauer's.
You can't replicate Joe Mauer's swing. One can spend hours in a batting cage, hitting with the "Quickswing," or just hitting soft toss, but one can never develop a swing like Mauer's. Joe Mauer's swing is perfect.
Mauer's swing looks effortless and natural. Unique to Joe, yet somehow familiar to us all. That's why if there's a swing you want your Little Leaguers to copy, it's Mauer's.
I could write a page about Mauer's accolades, but we all know about Joe's success at the plate. The truth is, Joe Mauer has the sweetest swing in Major League Baseball today.