Astros: Jake Marisnick’s revised swing continues to generate plenty of power
By Cody Poage
Thanks to a swing change before the 2017 campaign, a certain Astros’ outfielder has solidified himself as a key reserve off the bench the past two seasons.
Jake Marisnick hit 16 home runs last season, easily a career-high. Yes, 16 home runs in 259 plate appearances. He already has two home runs in 2018. For comparison sake, Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies finished with 14 home runs in 534 plate appearances in 2017.
Yup. That’€™s something.
And I’d understand if you need a second to gather yourself. I think I need a moment, too.
*Thirty seconds later*
I’m back. Yes, Jake Marisnick hit 16 ho…wait! I’m not going down that rabbit hole again.
The power increase by Marisnick was quite noticeable. He went from a fourth outfielder with a terrific glove to a fourth outfielder with a terrific glove AND power.
Check out what I mean around the 0:33 mark of the video below.
YES, “MORE POWER”!
God bless you, Tim “The Toolman” Taylor.
Back to the point of this author’s post.
If anything, Marisnick should probably be receiving a more extended look at consistent playing time. The power increase by itself almost warrants it. Here is Marisnick’s ISO and home run-per-fly ball rates since the 2015 season.
2015: .147; 10.2%
2016: .122; 7.1%
2017: .252; 24.6%
2018: .188; 33.3%
However, the talent on this Astros’ roster makes it difficult for regular playing time for Marisnick. The same thought even applies to Derek Fisher. I am not even sure what the Astros will do with the outfield once Kyle Tucker is ready. It is not like George Springer and Josh Reddick are going anywhere of their own accord. All I can presume is that general manager Jeff Luhnow would love to see Springer and Tucker occupy two-thirds of the outfield nine times out of ten at some point in the future.
Marisnick somewhat famously – in Houston, anyway – reinvented his swing two winters ago as documented in spring training leading up to the 2017 season. Jake Kaplan, then of the Houston Chronicle and now of The Athletic, detailed the swing overhaul. The man behind the change in Marisnick, Eugene Bleecker, operates 108 Performance, which specializes in baseball research and training. Here’€™s one excerpt about the shift in Marisnick’€™s posture.
"The first step in remaking Marisnick’s swing was a full-scale analysis that included video and data study and lasted three to four hours. Bleecker found that Marisnick didn’t land on his front foot with any of what he describes as posture, limiting his adjustability and vision mid-swing."
Marisnick had a somewhat closed stance a few seasons ago. The change made before the 2017 season allowed for a more open stance.
And it carried over into the 2018 season.
Note the change with the hands.
And here is a more recent comparison. Note where Marisnick’s chest is during the swing.
Kaplan notes the totality of Marisnick’s swing changes well, and simply, in his article.
"His swing now is simplified compared with its predecessor. He widened his stance and moved his hands back. His barrel stays longer through the zone, and his chest lands over the plate."
To finish the point visually, here are the final results of his swing changes on three different home runs in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Again, here is a more recent comparison.
And here is the swing in action.
As you can tell by the numerous examples I’ve provided above, Marisnick obviously benefitted from a swing change. Not only does his swing appear more fluid, but the adjustment also allows him a better vision of the pitch with the ability to keep the barrel in the zone longer. Mostly, I have reiterated all that Kaplan stated in his article. These changes can also be seen in his average launch angle and average exit velocity since the 2015 season. Of course, the 2018 totals have been a small sample size, so please keep that in mind.
2015: 11.2 degrees; 82.9 MPH
2016: 9.2 degrees; 84.1 MPH
2017: 15.9 degrees; 85.7 MPH
2018: 8.3 degrees; 91.7 MPH
Going forward, Marisnick’s high strikeout rate, which was 43.8% entering Wednesday, is something to watch. That said, the age-27 outfielder posted a 1.4 fWAR despite a 34.7% strikeout rate. The high strikeout rate is a byproduct of the swing change, which has allowed Marisnick to hit for more power than ever before. But it is well worth it.
Next: The Astros' K Rate Far From A-OK
The combination of power, defense, and speed makes Marisnick a valuable member of the Astros, even if he doesn’t play every day. Honestly, all rosters need a player to fit that mold like Marisnick.
**Statistics and information courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Savant**