Gurriel Swing Study

Will Yuli Gurriel turn it around? A detailed breakdown of his linear swing

Yuli Gurriel is a polarizing figure. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Opinions on Yuli Gurriel are all over the place.  Depending on who you ask they could tell you they love him and they could tell you they hate him.  One thing that I know for sure about Gurriel is he has a very unique swing, especially during the era of launch angle.

In this piece I will break down Gurriel’s swing, similar to how I broke down Kyle Tucker’s swing last month.  The two are great parallels, as Gurriel has a linear swing, especially compared to that of Tucker’s.

What is a linear hitter? I’ll get into that with the swing break down, but I can give you stereotypes of the linear hitter.  Linear hitters typically don’t hit for very much power (like Yuli) and they work gap-to-gap and rack up a lot of singles and doubles.  Linear hitters typically hit for high averages and are hitters with exceptional hand eye coordination that have great feel for the barrel.  On the Astros, Gurriel and Tony Kemp are linear, while pretty much everyone else is either rotational or a hybrid of the two.

Here’s Gurriel in a game against the Yankees from July 2017.  He has an open stance and a high hand set. His weight is firmly on his backside, which is a commonality amongst linear hitters.  Rotational hitters will mostly have their weight distributed evenly in their stance and will hinge back during the swing, rotating around the back leg and shifting their weight to their backside.  Linear hitters will start with their weight on the backside and will shift their weight forward onto their front side during the swing.


Here is Gurriel at foot plant.  The blue line across his shoulders is to show the downhill plane.  Linear hitters will always have this downhill plane at foot plant. Linear hitters believe in the “swing down” swing thought, which leads to a short swing.  The line at the hips shows the upward plane. This is also normal, and displays the rubber band effect you see in almost every good hitter.

The orange line up against his front hip is for comparison for the next couple of frames.  A rotational hitter at this point would begin to hinge back, and his front hip would never cross the orange line.  However, since Gurriel is linear, his front side will continue to ride forward past the orange line.

Here’s Gurriel at the next frame.  As you can see that front shoulder has continued to move forward past that orange line.  His front leg is bent, showing the weight transfer from back side to front side.


Finally, we have a shot of Gurriel at contact point.  We have another couple of frames forward, and you can see how Gurriel’s body has continued to ride forward towards the pitcher.  His front leg is locked out, which you will see in every hitter at contact, however if you look at his back foot, you will see it is actually off the ground.  Gurriel’s weight is on his front side, posted up against his front leg.

Gurriel lines this pitch directly to the second baseman for a lineout.  While the result isn’t what he wanted, this is the type of out you’ll see from him when he’s going good.  Linear hitters generally both try and are good at backspinning baseballs back up the middle and in the gaps.  When he’s going well Gurriel’s bat stays through the zone for a long time. This allows him lots of room for error, and it’s why a lot of his homers come on offspeed pitches that he’s fooled on but stays through the zone and hooks it over the fence on the pull side.

When he’s going poorly, as he’s been since the All-Star break, his bat doesn’t stay through the zone nearly as long, and you’ll see him rollover to the pullside on lots of pitches and ground into a lot of double plays.  

Gurriel has started hitting some backspin liners in between the gaps recently, so hopefully he’s busting out of his slump, and if he begins to work back up the middle more consistently, he’ll certainly break out of it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if because of the injuries to Springer, Correa, and Altuve that he’s tried to make up for it and hit for more power, but his swing just doesn’t lend itself to that mindset. Because of his swing, he’ll never be the 20-30 homer guy that most first baseman are, but he’ll also usually be a safe bet to hit .300.

 

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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