I love the Little League World Series! I love Ruy Martinez!
Like last year, some of the best hitters in the 2014 Little League World Series are on the team from Mexico. One of the “big” hitters on the Mexican team is Ruy Martinez, a 4′ 8″ second baseman. Ruy may be the smallest player in the tournament, but he hit one of the longest and most memorable home runs this year.
Here is a video of Ruy’s home run. Make sure you watch the entire video. His celebration with his teammates is almost as entertaining as his bomb.
I always tell my hitters that even the smallest hitters can hit with power if they learn proper hitting mechanics. Ruy does many things right, but here are three primary reasons why Ruy can hit the ball as far as hitters who are taller and stronger than him.
1) Ruy Knows How To “Load”
There is no way Ruy can generate home run power at 4′ 8″ unless he uses his entire body. To accomplish this, his first move is to lift his front leg off the ground to shift his weight over his back leg as the pitch approaches. Without getting too technical, Ruy’s swing is a clever combination of “linear” and “rotational” hitting mechanics. His powerful weight transfer to his back leg is indicative of a rotational swing. By stacking his weight on his back leg, Ruy is poised to deploy all of his weight kinetically through his body and into the ball from this point on. Ruy also strides toward the pitcher after his load, similar to a linear swing. I don’t advocate linear mechanics because striding toward the pitcher can often result in losing the precious power generated during the load. Linear hitters are also more susceptible to being fooled by off speed pitches. That being said, some of the greatest hitters in baseball history, including Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks were linear hitters. Given Ruy’s size, he is almost forced to employ both techniques.
2. Ruy Knows How To Generate Torque
As soon as Ruy’s front foot hits the ground after his load, he uses all the power captured in his weight transfer to generate maximum torque before his bat reaches the hitting zone. In the picture below, Ruy’s hips have rotated fully, but his bat has yet to make contact with the ball. At this point in his swing, Ruy has created a critical point of resistance or torque that will soon be the source of energy for his long home run. I tell my hitters that hitting is a battle between the upper body and the lower body, with the upper body always losing. The most powerful hitters are the ones who can delay the rotation of the upper body until the lower body has finished rotating. As soon as the lower body has finished rotating, the upper body will naturally and powerfully rotate without much intervention on the part of the hitter. Just by looking at this picture, it is obvious Ruy is going to hit the ball hard due to the leverage and torque he has generated.
3. Ruy Knows Extension
I admit that I am a broken record when it comes to the importance of extension in the baseball or softball swing. Without great extension, all the power generated from the load and the rotation of the upper and lower body is wasted. Readers of this blog know that I refer to extension as “lightning”. As the upper body violently rotates, it’s finally time for the bat to make impact with the ball. Hitters who extend their arms fully at impact with the ball and hold that extension as long as possible, will enjoy higher bat speed and greater power. Look at Ruy in the picture below. His arms are fully extended and they stay that way, even after impact with the ball. The ball jumps off Ruy’s bat like a bolt of lightning hit it.
I also love Ruy Martinez because I looked just like him when I was in Little League. Hitters like us are forced to figure out how to use every ounce of energy in order to hit with power. I used to be envious of the bigger guys in my league who were several inches taller than me. My envy didn’t last long because most of these hitters relied only on their strength to hit the ball. Most of them never reached their potential as they got older, because they failed to learnd effective and repeatable hitting mechanics that would complement their strength. I quickly learned that good hitting mechanics are far more important than the size of a hitter. Like me, Ruy will probably never be a big person. However, as his body grows, Ruy will enjoy exponential power, due to his already sound mechanics.
So the question everyone was asking after they saw a 4′ 8″ hitter blast a ball that far was “How did he do that?” Ruy Martinez has the answer!