Ever since signing a Minor League contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the start of the 2014 season, third baseman Justin Turner has evolved into of one of the sport’s premier players at his position.
The 34-year-old credits an overhauling of his swing for the success he’s enjoyed at the plate in recent years, to which he focused on improving his timing to complement the very familiar leg kick that has stuck with him for the better part of his career.
The change in mechanics has led to Turner hitting more fly balls during his five-year stint with the Dodgers, which naturally has translated to an uptick in home runs as a result.
Turner revealed to David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio that he’s a big believer in launch angle, but opined that the concept is merely a byproduct of any one player’s swing:
“I think everyone is on this launch angle bandwagon and no one really understands what it means or how to produce it or do it the right way. I think launch angle is just a byproduct of matching the plane of the pitch. I feel like you have a different swing for a fastball and a slider, sinker, curveball, you’re going to have a different swing plan to try to give yourself the most room for error. Everyone talks about launch angle like you’re trying to swing up on every pitch, and that’s not the case. At least in my eyes. I’m not trying to swing up on every pitch if I’m facing the Brewers bullpen, who all throw 98 up in the zone, swinging up is not a very good recipe for them. You’re going to have to try to get on top and match that plane. I think it’s just a misunderstanding. It’s so easy for all these guys on TV, analytics guys, and guys trying to break down swings, to say that launch angle is the devil. But that’s not the case. I think if you’re making the right moves and trying to match planes, then launch angle is going to happen. It’s definitely a byproduct of your swing and what you’re trying to do.”
As Turner notes, launch angle isn’t the end-all to guaranteeing offensive success for any one Major League player. Batters must adjust accordingly depending on which type of pitcher they’re facing, while minor injuries can also play a role in how some approach a matchup.
New Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc is a huge proponent of launch angle, so it’s safe to say he and Turner will mesh well together as the club looks for more consistency at the plate in 2019.