Over the past few weeks, Bryce Harper had been thinking about making minor tweak to his batting stance. He felt his hands and legs were too stiff in the batting stance he has long used. He looked jumpy and his head jerked out too often. His body and legs spread out too much when he would swing. So when he returned from the all-star break, he adopted the minor changes. “I just thought maybe I’d loosen up a little bit and make it a feel game and see how it goes,” he said.
Over the past two games, Harper has stood more upright with less bend in his knees. He held his hands lower, level with his chest, instead of high near his shoulder. He relaxed his left elbow so it pointed at the ground behind him. Albeit a small sample, Harper is 4 for 7 since the changes, including an opposite field double on Saturday which he flicked an outside fastball deep to left field.
“It’s felt great,” Harper said. “I just want to go out there, see the ball and hit it and really worry about anything else and be as comfortable as I can … I’m really not thinking about it, just trying to hit the baseball and see what I can do. It’s worked out the past two games. It’s early. Hopefully I can keep this rolling and get some knocks.”
Harper returned from the disabled list on June 30 following thumb surgery. He has hit mostly sixth in the lineup because his timing has been off and Manager Matt Williams wanted to ease him back into action. Harper started slow, going 5 for 37 with one home run in 11 games before the all-star break. Over the break, Harper decided to make the change to his stance and debuted them in Friday’s game.
“My swing felt fine in the setup I had four, five days ago,” he said. “It felt fine. I hit that home run in Philly and it felt good. But I just thought I was a little stiff coming off the baseball and this is something that’ll help stay on the ball a little bit more and relax.”
But how long will Harper use this stance? And, will he ditch his previous stance, the one he used for years? Harper has tinkered in the past when slumping or adjusting for injuries, but the current change is dependent on how he feels.
“If I’m feeling good where I’m at, that’s where I’m going to stay,” he said. “I feel good. I’m just trying to stay comfortable up there and not get too stiff and not get too spread out and really just try to see the ball and hit it.”