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It wasn’t solidified in its current form until college, but the inspiration took shape long before.
Pittsburgh second baseman Josh Harrison’s batting stance, which features a rocking or waggle with his bat off his shoulder and his left leg set slightly open from his right leg, came from his older brothers.
Vince, the oldest, had the waggle.
Shaun had a different stance every at-bat from being crouched to having his front foot back.
“I said, ‘All right, let me be a blend of them,’” Harrison said.
Like most Major League Baseball players — from Angels star Mike Trout and Nationals star Bryce Harper to future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki — Harrison’s batting stance comes down to comfort and is unique to his style.
“I’m a rhythm hitter,” Harrison said. “Some guys are stagnant. I’m a guy that’s got some flow. I like to move, so I can’t be in the box rigid. So that’s how I relax.”
Fans catching a game at LECOM Park have seen hitter after hitter stand in the batter’s box with their signature stance as they await an opposing pitcher’s offering.
On Thursday night, fans were treated to two of the Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospects — each with former MLB-playing fathers — making the trek from Dunedin.
They were Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.
In Guerrero’s case, he flipped his bat around so the handle was pointing toward the ground upon approaching the right-handed batter’s box from LECOM’s visiting dugout.
And as his name was announced over the public address system, Guerrero Jr. used the handle to scribble into the dirt just outside the box as if he were signing his name.
Vlady Jr.’s stance, once getting into the box, looked similar to his famous father, who was elected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer this year.
While Guerrero and Harrison emulate their family at the dish, others drew inspiration elsewhere.
Take Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell. The switch hitter said he feels he imitated a ton of guys.
“I was always a Josh Hamilton, (Ken) Griffey (Jr.) fan,” Bell said. “So that was me lefty. And then I guess compared to righty sometimes Michael Young, sometimes Sammy Sosa with the toe tap. It really just depended up until pro ball.”
Being a native Texan from the Dallas area, Bell had local inspiration from Hamilton and Young who were big stars with the Rangers.
“When (Hamilton) went off that year, I think he hit .280-plus with 40-plus homers and 120 RBIs, it was just fun to watch,” Bell said. “It seemed like every ball he put into play was a real game-changer. ... Michael Young was just a guy who was on the field every day. Got his foot down early righty and drove the ball to all fields. Those were two guys that were easy to look up to.”
Count Pirates outfielder Bryce Brentz in the comfort category with Harrison.
“A lot of times we put so much effort into stances and that kind of correlates to mechanics of what we’re trying to do,” Brentz said. “Everyone has their own signature. So stances is like everybody’s signatures. There are some common denominators you have get to when you’re in the swing. Everybody’s going to be in a certain position to be successful.”
Regardless if it’s past greats like Julio Franco, with his arms raised high so the bat is locked above his head and pointed toward the pitcher, or current players, a hitter’s stance is special to them.