Baseball has entered a new age. 100 mph fastballs and home runs are all the rage. MLB hitters are on pace to hit nearly 6,200 home runs in the 2017 season which is more than 500 more than the previous high of 5,693 in 2000. In 2012 there were 1269 100 MPH fastballs compared to just 69 in 2008. Based on these two stats we are seeing a change in how the game is played. Like it or not you can’t deny that the game has changed. This could be for many reasons, but in my opinion, there is one main change.
Today, MLB players are starting to look like the bigger, stronger and faster physical specimens of the NFL.
Batter Avg Exit Velo(mph) Avg Distance(ft)
Judge, Aaron 96.8 249.7
Cruz, Nelson 96.2 237.5
Stanton, Giancarlo 95.9 237.6
Holliday, Matt 95.3 225.9
Trumbo, Mark 95.0 241.7
Cabrera, Miguel 95.0 244.4
Aaron Judge is 6’7” and weighs 282 lbs, Nelson Cruz is listed at 6’2 and weighs 240 lbs. Wait—someone on this list has to be small, right? The answer is no, and all of the guys listed above are at at least 240 lbs. The same goes for many pitchers in today’s game. Aroldis Chapman, who’s hit 105, is listed at 230 pounds. The common thread between all these great players is that they are bigger, stronger and faster than past generations. This allows them to produce more power which translates to throwing and hitting with higher velocities. So, many smart younger athletes are asking themselves, “How can I turn myself into on of these players?”.
Some might argue that hitters and pitchers are changing their approach, which could definitely be a part of it. However, you can’t deny that today’s MLB athletes are putting a greater stock in lifting heavy weights. For example, Bryce Harper regularly deadlifts 500 pounds in the off-season and Aroldis Chapman has been known to get in solid workouts as well.
Creating these bigger, stronger, faster athletes comes down to a few basic principles. Compound weightlifting movements need to be used because they allow for the most load to be used which creates the greatest stimulus for growth and strength gain. Sport specific movements such as med ball throws and sprints need to be implemented for translation of strength into speed and power. Nutrition needs to be dialed in to allow for recovery and growth. Finally, mobility restrictions need to be addressed for optimal health and recovery. When all these pieces are put together you give the athlete the greatest chance for growth.
Part 2 will go into greater depth into specifics of creating a larger more powerful athlete.