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SOUTH HILLS – Gregory Polanco‘s swing has been compared to just about every great left-handed hitter of the modern era from Ken Griffey Jr. to the David Ortiz. I think you have to go back to the 1970s and 1980s to find something like it. One beautiful Polanco swing, Polanco’s first PNC Park home run, was the decisive action in the Pirates’ 5-2 win Thursday. That swing  left a sellout PNC Park crowd buzzing. And with the Mets in town, the swing invoked memories of another great left-handed bat in the PNC Park press box.

The Straw.

Like Darryl Strawberry, it’s difficult for Polanco to have a compact swing given his 6-foot-4 length. Like Strawberry, Polanco has a sweeping swing. But like Strawberry, Polanco keeps the bat in the hitting zone for a long time. That allows Polanco to use the whole field and cover all sorts of velocity, and turn on breaking stuff just as Strawberry did in Game 7 of the 1986 series.

Of course Strawberry had ultra quick hands along with those long levers. His bat became something of a whip and I see similarities with that of Polanco.

(This really is the best amateur swing analysis you can find on the internet!).

Of course there’s a reason Polanco was also dubbed Cobra II before arriving to Pittsburgh.

Like Dave Parker, Polanco has a pronounced hand-hitch mechanism that is another swing signature and acts, I guess, as something of a swing trigger. And like Parker, Polanco creates so much torque in his lower half his back foot, his left foot, sometimes slides out its original position as his hands and hips fire.

This special swing that is already allowing Polanco to make adjustments to off-speed stuff at the major league level. The home run came on the eighth pitch of an at bat as Polanco had resisted several Dice K pitches out of the zone, worked the count full, fouled off velocity, before turning on an 81 mph slider.

“He has very good plate discipline for a young hitter. It’s been showing up here. … He’s been getting challenged with much more off-speed stuff in the last week.” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Being selectively aggressive in the strike zone (is) one thing he showed a lot of consistency with the last few years.”

Polanco is a unique player. We’ve gone over this. This swing is  perhaps unique, too. There might not be  another one quite like it in recent times. Maybe it’s two parts Strawberry and one part Parker?  That’s a recipe for a lot of roars on the North Shore like the one we heard Thursday night.

– TS

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