Baseball is a sport that is steeped in rituals and superstitions. Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs famously ate chicken before the start of each game. Former shortstop Nomar Garciaparra had an unusual ritual of tugging his batting gloves and tapping his feet before each pitch. Whatever the ritual, it’s a fact that Major League Baseball players hold steadfast to those unusual quirks no matter what. Here are five highly unusual batting rituals employed by current MLB players.
1. Kevin Youkilis and His Hands
New York Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis is definitely a creature of habit. Ever since he made his MLB debut in 2004, Youkilis has been well-known for his quirky batting stance, starting with his hands held far apart on the bat before finally coming together just before he starts his swing.
2. Carl Crawford and His First-Base Leaning Stance
It’s hard to argue against any player who has success in the majors, especially if their batting stance is unique. Outfielder Carl Crawford likes to lean to the right, and it has nothing to do with his political views. Crawford starts out in the batters’ box with a distinct style of nearly having his front out of the box and pointing directly toward first base. But for him, it works.
3. Ichiro Suzuki, His Inward Knees and Bat Pointing
New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki will end his career with over 4,000 hits between Japan and the United States, but many hitting coaches would likely never teach his particular batting style. Suzuki starts in the batter’s box with his knees actually pointing inward towards each other, and famously points his bat directly at the pitcher. Considering his incredible success, it’s hard to say he did things wrong.
4. Alfonso Soriano and His Extreme Crouch and Bat Waggle
Outfielder Alfonso Soriano has amassed nearly 400 home runs over his stellar career in MLB, but in looking at his unusual crouch as he starts in the batter’s box, it’s hard to believe he can generate so much power. It also helps that he wields one of the heaviest bats in the majors at 35 inches and 33.5 ounces. But the way he uncoils with a short compact swing shows that for him, the stance works.
5. Norichika Aoki and His Choked Up Style and High Leg Kick
Japanese players are known for their quirky batting styles and rituals, and Norichika Aoki is certainly no different. Aoki has an exaggerated style of choking up on the bat and kicks his front knee up very high before starting his swing. But the results have led to a solid .280-plus batting average during his two years in Major League Baseball.
Batting rituals and stances are varied throughout baseball. No matter what coaches do to try and chance what they perceive to be a bad habit, many of Major League Baseball’s greatest hitters have used their unique style and approach with much success nonetheless.