One can know a lot about a player by looking at his swing: scouts can identify future MLB stars by examining things like plate coverage, balance, timing, natural loft, and bat-to-ball skills.
A hitter’s swing is like their soul: a player just can’t get too far in his career with a significantly flawed swing.
The history of the game is filled with players with a superior, aesthetically pleasing swing.
MLB Has Seen Lots Of Stars With Excellent Swings
Ted Williams’, for example, was a perfectly-balanced sum of synchronized movements that allowed him to be one of the top five offensive players in the history of the game.
Barry Bonds’ swing was also a thing of beauty, and while he is known for his immaculate plate discipline, you don’t hit 762 homers with a flawed swing.
Derek Jeter didn’t generate a lot of power, but his inside-out swing was a favorite among scouts and helped him build a Hall of Fame career.
Miguel Cabrera has perhaps the best right-handed swing of modern times.
But lots of scouts, and especially fans, are simply enamored by Ken Griffey Jr.’s swing.
Best swing in MLB history? 🤩
— theScore (@theScore) February 2, 2022
Griffey was, ever since he broke into the big leagues in 1989 with the Seattle Mariners, associated with grace and style.
His flair went well beyond the batter’s box: he was a top fielder who won 10 Gold Gloves, he was athletically superior, he contributed between 15 and 20 steals per year, and he was an idol for children and young fans of all backgrounds.
He played with confidence, and that poise had a clear root: he was very, very good, especially with the bat.
Griffey’s Swing Was Both Sweet And Effective
His aesthetically-pleasing swing was short, compact, and explosive, with a stylish follow-through that was imitated by many young fans, and even players.
The way Tee Higgins catches the ball away from his body is so aesthetically pleasing. It's like Ken Griffey Jr's follow-through for me.
— Jake Liscow (@JakeLiscow) December 26, 2021
He used to cover a lot of the plate with it and wasn’t especially vulnerable at any part of the strike zone.
Part of his excellent swing was trained, but most of it is natural.
The best part of it is that it helped him achieve a level of offensive excellent that very few players have been able to reach throughout history.
Griffey slashed .284/.370/.538 with 630 home runs, 1,662 runs, 1,836 RBI, and 184 stolen bases.
It’s hard not to think about what numbers could he have finished with if he had better luck with injuries in the latter part of his career.
By wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus), he was 31 percent better than the average: he finished with a 131 mark.
His offensive performance, unlike many of his peers, wasn’t aided by steroids, and that’s one of the reasons why Griffey is so universally respected around baseball.
It was all natural, aided by, quite likely, the best swing in MLB history.
There may be differing opinions on this matter, and that’s perfectly fair: there is no universally right or wrong answer.
But Griffey’s swing is the gold standard, the one youngest fans tried to imitate growing up.
It had flair, style, and swagger, like him.
But it was extremely functional, too.