When I watched Marlon Byrd hit a home run in the recent Wild Card Playoff Game, I was not happy. As a Cub, Byrd had a hitting style that infuriated me. He had no pre-swing load (weight transfer) and other than a little toe tap, Byrd failed to use his lower body to generate batspeed or power. Instead, he relied on his muscular upper body.
Byrd’s power numbers with the Cubs were respectable, but he was very inconsistent. This inconsistency stemmed from the fact that his flat-footed hitting style limited his ability to hit inside or outside pitches consistently. The pitch had to be over the middle of the plate for Byrd to hit the ball hard.
After Byrd was traded from the Cubs, he was suspended by Major League Baseball for using performance enhancing drugs. I always suspected Bryd was a “juicer”. Even though his offseason workout regimen made national news, he looked just like other players who were exposed as cheaters during the Steroid Era. This would explain how he could hit with power, using only his upper body.
So, why was I mad when he hit the home run last week? I was mad because he is now using more conventional hitting mechanics, which is an admission on his part that he needs more than a chemist to generate power. Specifically, Byrd is now noticeably lifting his front foot and leg to load his power on his backside. This powerful load now allows him to capture the electricity from the ground that will eventually be kinetically transferred into the pitched ball.
This Byrd, was “of a different feather” due to his steroid use. Now, he is finally flocking together with other “clean” hitters who use sound hitting mechanics to achieve power (bat speed) and consistency.