Why Driveline Baseball is a part of Dodgers’ hitting program

It took simply at some point for Max Muncy’s routine to vary this offseason.

Three months faraway from the Dodgers’ postseason elimination, and greater than 1,000 miles away from the group’s dwelling services, the veteran third baseman discovered himself simply south of Seattle in January, spending a day at Driveline Baseball.

The journey to the famend data-driven coaching heart hadn’t initially been his concept. It got here as a suggestion from Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc shortly after the 2022 season.

Muncy wasn’t sure what to anticipate, having believed Driveline was a spot pitchers went to enhance with the assistance of cutting-edge know-how — not their counterparts on the plate.

Yet within the ever-evolving world of superior baseball improvement, Driveline provided an intriguing alternative. In the final a number of years, they’d crafted a hitting program designed to refine swing mechanics, construct power and, most crucially, enhance bat velocity.

So, Muncy agreed, turning into considered one of six Dodgers hitters who made the trek to Driveline this winter in a pilgrimage organized by the group.

“I was like, OK, I’ll give it a shot, why not?” Muncy recalled this week. “If it increases my bat speed, if it helps me catch up to fastballs with guys throwing harder than ever, if it helps me play longer into my career — there was no downside to it for me.”

The Driveline visits have emerged as an early storyline in camp this spring. In addition to Muncy, Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor and Gavin Lux additionally mentioned they educated there over the offseason.

“We just thought there was some opportunity with certain guys to go up there, get some information on them,” Van Scoyoc mentioned, discussing what he known as a “collaborative process” between the Dodgers and the Driveline group.

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“What we’re always trying to do is find ways to improve,” basic manger Brandon Gomes mentioned. “And as we talked through it, we viewed it as an opportunity to bring to our guys.”

While Dodgers gamers have educated at Driveline up to now, it was sometimes pitchers. Since its founding in 2008, Driveline had earned a popularity for serving to even completed massive leaguers add velocity, break and spin to their repertoire.

“You hear Driveline,” Muncy mentioned, “you automatically think pitchers.”

Dodgers teammates (from left) Jason Heyward, Max Muncy and Freddie Freeman stroll to the apply fields at Camelback Ranch on Monday.

(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

“With everyone throwing 100 [mph] now, we’ve got to be able to catch up to it.”

— Max Muncy, on the significance of bat velocity

This offseason, nonetheless, the Dodgers made a concerted effort to ship hitters to the ability as effectively — a “coach-driven” initiative, Gomes mentioned, prompted by Driveline’s intriguing bat velocity program.

“It was just a thing with certain guys we thought might help,” Van Scoyoc mentioned. “We wanted to investigate it.”

Like different Dodgers hitters who went to Driveline this offseason, Muncy’s go to featured a pair key steps.

There was biomechanical testing by which motion-capture cameras and wearable sensors measured each element of Muncy’s highly effective swing, even creating 3D animations that confirmed how every physique half interacted all through the movement.

There was instruction on a specialised system of weighted bat coaching, educating Muncy a sequence of drills he later integrated into his offseason exercise.

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“The whole theory was just increasing bat speed,” Muncy mentioned.

It isn’t a brand new revelation within the baseball neighborhood.

The similar method pitchers have all the time tried to throw the ball tougher, batters have lengthy sought dependable methods to quicken their swing with out sacrificing mechanics.

“With everyone throwing 100 [mph] now,” Muncy mentioned, “we’ve got to be able to catch up to it.”

What’s completely different about Driveline’s new system, in keeping with Van Scoyoc, is its potential to compile mountains of swing information and incorporate the knowledge into newly developed coaching methods.

“I just think the way it’s organized and tracked, that’s the new part of it,” Van Scoyoc mentioned. “It’s just being a little bit more informed about where guys are at.”

Some of the hitters the Dodgers approached about going to Driveline this winter merely obliged the suggestion.

“My employer told me I need to go,” Betts mentioned of his journey, which prompted him to bulk up by 8 kilos coming into spring. “There’s only one way to find out, but so far I definitely have gotten a lot stronger and beefed up a little bit, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Mookie Betts takes part in batting practice at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 7.

Mookie Betts takes half in batting apply at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 7.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Others had been intrigued by the chance.

“If you’re not taking advantage of all the resources given to you then, you know, what are you really doing?” Taylor mentioned earlier this month. “I think it’s important to be open minded, and some of this new stuff that we’re adopting in the game is obviously working and helping a lot of players. I think it would be very stubborn to not give it a shot.”

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Taylor additionally pointed to the season-long advantages of getting such detailed swing information available for Dodgers coaches to judge.

“I think that information is very valuable,” Taylor mentioned. “For me, I keep things as simple as I can and I think it’s more valuable for our hitting coaches for them to tell me what to do.”

Lux, in the meantime, has seen dividends from his session, most notably a considerable 6 mph acquire in bat velocity.

“I’m a vision guy,” Lux mentioned. “So when you put up a 3D picture of my skeleton and what my body is actually doing, you can get a way better idea” of find out how to enhance your swing.

The Dodgers aren’t the one group hoping to profit from Driveline’s hitting program, which gained business recognition final 12 months after it was credited by St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado throughout his MVP-caliber season.

While it’s unclear how a lot it is going to impression their outcomes throughout the season, Van Scoyoc mentioned he’s inspired by early returns.

“Oh yeah,” he mentioned. “You can see some real gains.”

The Dodgers’ hope is that the impacts gained’t be restricted to only dwelling runs, slugging proportion and bat velocity, both.

Thanks to the offseason Driveline journeys, Van Scoyoc mentioned the Dodgers can now have interaction in “more informed coaching” — with extra information and methods at their disposal heading into the upcoming season.

“I think it’s been pretty beneficial so far,” Muncy mentioned. “I think everyone got their own thing out of it.”