St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Adams Has A New Stance, Same Old Swing

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The St. Louis Cardinals finally started playing games again, and Matt Adams has a new stance. Does his new approach really change anything?

The St. Louis Cardinals played a baseball game for the first time in months. With that came excitement and a 50-50 split among fans as to whether anything in these Spring Training games is meaningful. I, for one, probably overreacted to Mike Matheny’s first lineup of the season, and was (deservedly) called out.

Unfortunately, the St. Louis Cardinals fell to the Miami Marlins by a score of 8-7. Everyone can agree, however, that Spring Training game results really don’t matter, especially the first one.

We can still try to glean some useful information from these games. One of the more interesting developments, in my mind, was the new look for Matt Adams. And no, I’m not talking about his weight loss.

Instead, I’m referencing a change no one saw coming. As pointed out on the broadcast and later by Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Adams changed his stance in the batter’s box.

I didn’t pay much attention to this part of the broadcast, but I did hear a mention of Anthony Rizzo. One of my editors here at Redbird Rants, Brendan Dlubala, pointed out that Justin Turner also has a similar stance. Based on those comparisons, this new Matt Adams stance sounds like a good thing.

I, personally, have always thought Adams bat was slow through the hitting zone. By the time he gets the bat to the hitting zone, his hips have already flown open. The bat isn’t synced with his body rotation or weight transfer. This sacrifices bat control and swing authority, and consequently batting average and power.

This is most obvious when Adams hits the ball to the opposite field:

If this new stance improves that aspect of Adams’ swing, I’m all for it. However, I don’t see that happening. This stance introduces more movement into Adams trigger and load, and ends with him starting his swing from the same position as he always has.

Yet, the stance works for Justin Turner and Anthony Rizzo, so there is precedent for success. The key difference between their approach and Adams, however, is hand positioning.

When Justin Turner loads, he moves his hands backward, but keeps them on the same plane as where they started. See for yourself:

Anthony Rizzo has a very similar load, though he appears to raise his hands ever so slightly:

While I haven’t been able to find a convertible video of Adams from Saturday’s first game, I was able to snip Adams starting position and his hands after his load. This point is essentially where the swing begins, since it is from here that the hitter starts to bring the bat forward.

St. Louis Cardinals
2017, pre-load /
St. Louis Cardinals
2017, at load /

Matt Adams raises his hands significantly up to head level, and you can see his right hand in line with his chin. This differs dramatically from Rizzo and Turner, who keep their hands at shoulder level or below. Comparing this hand position to the starting point of the previous version of Matt Adams swing shows virtually no change.

St. Louis Cardinals
2015 /

It appears that even with the new stance, Matt Adams is initiating his swing from the same starting point as he always has. By continuing to raise his hands all the way up to this point, Adams certainly isn’t shortening the time he takes to get to the ball, and he’s probably not getting through the hitting zone any better.

Really, it doesn’t look like Matt Adams changed his swing at all. He altered his stance and introduced a trigger, but nothing more. Maybe a trigger will help his timing, but my guess is that it won’t make a difference in how he gets to and through the baseball.

You’ll also notice from Ben Frederickson’s tweet that Adams’ weight is shifted toward his front foot. I don’t have any video on his swing from the side, but this position indicates Adams has to shift more of his weight back to load, and then forward again to swing. Again, he’s introducing more movement to his swing and expending more energy, while I think he should be doing the opposite.

All that said, I’m a big fan of introducing triggers. Triggers, especially the leg kick, can be huge for syncing up timing and optimizing weight transfer. I trust that hitting coach John Mabry has a plan in mind, and that Adams will continue to work out the kinks.

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I know that Adams had a rough spring debut in the St. Louis Cardinals first game, and I tried to keep that out of this analysis as much as possible. We expect timing to be off early in the year. Instead, I just focused on the mechanics of the swing. Hopefully, for my credibility’s sake, I would have had the same thoughts even if he went three for three on Saturday.