The 12 Weirdest Batting Stances in Yankee History
Kevin Youkilis became a Yankee yesterday and that got me thinking: what are the weirdest batting stances in Yankee history? Youk might eventually top the list, but I decided to include players that have been Yanks longer than a New York Minute. I’ll list the 12 oddest stances in team history in honor of 12/12/12.
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Honorable Mention | Ruben Sierra
Sierra spent just 5 of his 20 years in pinstripes, but he had his share of big homers while in New York, including a few big playoff blasts. Early in his career, during his time with the Texas Rangers, Sierra had a huge leg kick, bringing his left leg nearly perpendicular to his body, while keeping his bat angled behind his head. By the time he began his second tenure in the Bronx in the early 2000s, the leg kick was still there, but he added an odd quirk. As the bat came through the zone he would plant his front leg toward the 1st base line, almost further to the side than his back leg. It opened up his swing ridiculously early, so if he got bat on ball he could generate tremendous power, but he was also susceptible to any and all outside pitches. Check it out here.
#12 | Paul O’Neill
Paulie was a perfectionist. If you ever saw him practicing his swing in right field, you knew this. He was always tinkering with his swing, working on his timing, never satisfied. His stance evinced this attention to detail. His slender, 6’4″ frame stood tall, the bat bent slightly toward his head, his right foot pigeon-toed toward the plate. His timing emanated from the choreographed movements of his right foot tap with his arms moving up and down at the shoulder. Look at the stance here.
#11 | Darryl Strawberry
Straw’s swing was prodigious in his time in the Big Apple, both with the Mets, then with the Yanks. He would raise his right leg high while simultaneously bending at the waist, closing up his body before unfurling his mile-long swing. Look at the stance here.
#10 | Ichiro Suzuki
Ichiro has one of the most distinct stances in baseball today. He holds the bat in front of him, perpendicular to the ground, while he slowly pulls up the right sleeve of his jersey. All the while his knees are almost pointed directly at each other. Look at the stance here.
#9 | Mickey Rivers
Mick the Quick was a demon on the base paths, but while standing in the batter’s box he looked like an old man. He would bend his 5’10″ frame at the waist and shake his hips back and forth while waiting for the pitch, like Elvis singing “Hound Dog.” Look at his stance here.
#8 | Rickey Henderson
Henderson walked 2,190 times in his career due as much to his keen eye as to the minuscule strike zone he created with his pronounced crouch. Knees bent, arms back, bat curled around the head, spine curved. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a Hall of Fame stance. Check it out here.
#7 | Oscar Gamble
Gamble was known more for his mushroom cloud afro than his stance, but it was noteworthy nonetheless. If Rivers looked like an old man, Gamble looked like an old man without a spine. He bent his body in half and crouched down to the point that his right elbow looked like it was a mere 3 feet off the ground. Check it out here.
#6 | Mel Hall
Hall’s lefty swing was a strange creation. His front, right leg was straight and to the side, while his back leg was bent toward the plate. If you are mimicking this right now, you have undoubtedly realized this is a difficult way to hit a ball. It wasn’t all that successful for Hall either who had a lifetime OBP of .318. Check out the stance here.
#5 | Johnny Damon
Damon would settle into a stance that had his right, front leg halfway down the 1st baseline, moving his heel up and down like he was holding in a gallon of urine. As the pitcher went into his motion, Damon would bring his front leg even with his back and wait for the pitch. Check it out here.
#4 | Gary Sheffield
Sheff stood straight up in the box with his left toe pointed inward, utilizing a high leg kick to generate tremendous pull power, but the quirkiest part of his swing was how he would menacingly whip his bat back and forth as he waited for the pitch. Sheffield used it as a timing mechanism to help him slow down his dead pull swing. Look at the stance here.
#3 | Gil McDougald
McDougald had the exact stance of a man holding a baseball bat for the very first time. His feet were spread wider than his shoulders and he held the bat low, almost at waist level, straight up in the air. His stance made him look like a novice, but McDougald won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1951 and finished in the top 7 of the MVP vote in 1956 and 1957. Look at the stance here.
#2 | Chuck Knoblauch
Knoblauch had some pop and the Padres and Braves found that out the hard way when he cracked pivotal home runs in the 1998 and 1999 Fall Classics. The 2nd baseman crouched low and held his bat almost straight back and motionless. [See the above picture]
#1 | Jim Leyritz
The most distinctive part of Leyritz’ routine happened before he even gripped the bat. He would famously twirl the bat in his right hand while digging into the box before settling into his stance. He’d then straighten his left left in front of him and bend his back right leg, sitting back, almost as though he were perched on a bar stool. Then he’d wave the bat back-and-forth while peering over his left shoulder. Mark Wholers won’t ever forget the stance and neither will we. Watch a video of his at bat from game 2 of the ’95 ALDS here. SPOILER ALERT: He wins the game.