As we all know, Justin Turner just signed a huge deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason after only playing at an All-Star level the last two seasons. While Turner has always utilized a leg kick, he explains that as soon as he put on the Dodger blue, he started experimenting more with it: starting with a narrower base and making his leg-kick even higher than before.
Some people out there would think that this higher, more drawn out leg-kick might make Turner late more often. They believe in a simple, make-believe equation: the more moving parts the harder it is to be on time. The numbers below simply prove that this is not true.
As you can see in the table above, Justin Turner started hitting much better when he did two things: pulling more baseballs and hitting them in the air. The numbers don’t lie, Turner hit for a higher average and more power with the new and improved leg kick all while increasing the amount of times he pulled the baseball in the air.
So, we see that this new approach statistically proves Turner made a good move by going with the higher leg kick. We also see that just because Turner has a lot of moving parts doesn’t mean he’s having trouble being on time to the baseball. As a matter of fact, he’s on time if not earlier more often.
Below, I’ll let a minor leaguer (he wants to remain anonymous) give you the player’s perspective into how/why he decided to make this adjustment.
Minor League Perspective:
We are starting to see a rising trend in players trying to make adjustments that help them see improvements on both the analytical and statistical side of things. Players are re-tooling their swings and movements to help them increase their consistency with launch angle and exit velocity metrics.
This translates to more on-field consistency and success. Brian Dozier is a perfect example: he was featured in FanGraphs as a guy that tried pulling the ball in the air more in 2016 and saw success from this adjustment. Justin Turner is someone who has continually adjusted at the big-league level to help him consistently produce for his ball club, resulting in a mega-deal this offseason. Without these adjustments, Turner may have never got out of the backup utility role and never seen a 64-million-dollar contract extension.
By improving his leg kick to help him pull more baseballs in the air, Turner has become a staple in the Dodgers’ lineup and should continue to dominate the next few years.
Data came from www.fangraphs.com