Schonbrun: The batter’s box gets a little more boring

From Zach Schonbrun at the New York Times on July 22, 2016, with mention of SABR members John Thorn and Peter Morris:

Todd Frazier is putting up offensive numbers this season that would rival any of those former sluggers. But Frazier’s own batting stance, while technically sound and often effective, is not nearly as memorable as the ones he enthusiastically mimicked.

So it is in baseball today, where personalization at the plate appears headed the way of bullpen cars and scorecards, disappearing from a game that it once spiced. Batting stances used to identify hitters as vividly as their uniform numbers — and, sometimes, there was a good reason for that. Stan Musial used to be so coiled in the box that fans watching on television saw more of the No. 6 on Musial’s back than of the tan on his face.

But in an age of advanced metrics, enhanced video and intensified coaching, the idiosyncrasies have been pretty much ironed out of the game. There is no Musial, and there is no Julio Franco, who aimed his bat at the pitcher from over his head before unwinding with tornadic gusto as the pitch approached. Nor is there a Phil Plantier, who crouched as a terrified Little Leaguer might when facing a fastball up and in.

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Originally published: July 22, 2016. Last Updated: July 22, 2016.