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That swing


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



  1. Steelkings says:

    Dear Travis,
    It is a violation of major proportions to show any clip of Dave Parker in a Reds uniform. Because you are still relatively new to the Burgh we will let the first violation go. Any additional violations will result in you banishment. You will be exiled though the fort Pitt tunnel and required to cover only the Wild Things until you are able to regain the trust of the squabs.

    This is not hard Travis 13:33 of the following video

  2. Jim S. says:

    Those are great comps to Polanco, Travis. I’m thinking, but right now I don’t have much else. If GP has a similar career to either of them (while avoiding the substance abuse issues that may have kept them both from the HOF) we will be lucky to see him play many seasons in Pittsburgh.

    He is built more like Strawberry, and has a sweeping swing that is more reminiscent of Strawberry than Parker. But, as a hitter, I think he will hit for average better than Strawberry, and develop power more gradually, like Parker. I see his stats possibly following a Cutch-like path.

  3. NMR says:

    Sawchik trolling so hard with video of Parker in a Redbirds uni! My head just exploded. ;) ;)

  4. Travis Sawchik says:

    I would plead color-blindness but, honestly, my quick YouTube search did not yield any quick highlights of Parker hitting in a Pirates uniform. Truth be told it was not an exhaustive search

  5. NMR says:

    Ha! No worries. Thanks for being a good sport.

  6. NMR says:

    First off, man, I gotta see him lined up with a tape measure to believe he’s only 6′-4″. Kid is an absolute monster. That picture of GP, Ken Griffey Jr, and Cutch floating around the internet lately made Polanco look almost a head taller than Griffey, and he’s 6′-2″.

    As for the swing, I think you nailed it before, Travis. Unique. Truly unique.

    By far, I’ve been most impressed with his pure hand eye, bat-to-ball skills. Many guys with cleaner swings fail to make as much contact. That’s something I think you can’t truly judge until a guy is at the highest level, and GP passes easily. Kid is gonna be OK at baseball.

  7. Travis Sawchik says:


    Good point on his bat-to-ball skills. Pedro Alvarez has a shorter frame and simple swing and, well ….

  8. NMR says:

    Exactly the guy I was thinking of.

  9. Travis Sawchik says:

    I thought I already was on double-secret probation, Steel

  10. Milo Hamilton says:

    Watch the Parker video again. Pete looks like he made a bundle on that game.

  11. cmat0829 says:

    This is GREAT content Travis… you are earning whatever the Trib is paying you X 3.

    You know this gets me to thinking… I have been guilty of railing on Pedro for not being a ‘smart’ hitter..not recognizing pitches, making adjustments, etc. But maybe it is really all about physical ability and has nothing to do with all that? I mean Polanco seems to adjust beautifully to how a pitcher is working him but maybe it is because his superhuman hand speed, etc. ?

  12. dennis g says:

    I don’t understand why the umpires seem to be punishing him for being tall. They are calling low pitch after low pitch as strikes when they are clearly below his knee. It is as if they just assume that because his zone is so large everything must be a strike if it crosses the plate. He would be doing even better if they gave him a fair chance on those.

  13. dennis g says:

    That is funny; and so true.

  14. Pig Legs Robinson says:

    Thanks Steelkings, it’s good to hear the voice of Lanny Frattare again! I’m glad I have Firefox apps that allow me to download too, I grabbed all six of those.

  15. Pig Legs Robinson says:

    Polanco just needs to golf a few of those into the seats like Captain Willie always used to. Then no pitcher will be dumb enough to throw it there anymore.

  16. Steelkings says:

    Yes you were Travis….Typically regaining the trust of the squabs is not really that hard due to short term memory problems. I mean what fan of the Bucco’s wants to remember much in the short term? As I was saying…Dont let it happen again…Arrrggghhh!

    Ok, What were we talkin about?

  17. HebnerRuled says:

    Polanco’s plate discipline is another facet that impresses me. He gets on base without forcing the issue by swinging at bad pitches. I am sure pitchers will adjust – I expect he will as well.

  18. RobertoForever says:

    Its too bad the GrillI trade came up so quickly after this blog post. This content deserves to be on top of the stack for a while longer.

    Gonna be in right field tonight for the first time since El Coffee was called up. Can’t wait to see him glide quickly to the line or the wall and make a catch. I think the value of my seats just went up, lol.

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