Pete Zimmermann knew bat speed was important.
He had been making his own bat speed trainers for years – taping up the handle on one bat, taping the barrel on another for different weight distributions, alternating swinging fungos and youth bats, whatever he could.
But after a down 2022 season for the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League, he decided he needed to truly invest in himself. So, he made the trip out to Driveline.
“I went to Driveline to try to find that next gear,” Zimmermann said. “I didn’t want to leave a single stone unturned…I found the bat speed training that they do fascinating. I was making my own makeshift bat speed trainers at home. So I really thought a motion capture and some real bat speed training could help me get better as a hitter and really figure out what I need to do to get to the next level.”
The makeshift bat speed training he had done on his own did have him swinging the bat pretty hard; he showed up with bat speed in the mid-80s. The problem in his training had been that he didn’t really ever understand the entire picture.
He was basically just swinging as hard as he could with no emphasis on the mechanical side of things.
A lot of the work Zimmermann did with Driveline was mechanical for that reason. Although he had mid-80s bat speed, he was still getting way too far out onto his front leg in his swing, jumping out of his load to go get the ball instead of turning behind it.
A steady dose of hook ‘em, offset closed, offset open and the Kershaw drill helped him to understand balance and how to transfer his weight throughout his swing.
“My turn in my swing is a lot better,” he said. “I didn’t have any balance, I would just turn violently in my swing with not really any intended purpose outside of trying to be fast and strong. Now, I’m actually moving in correct patterns that are helping me move fast while also getting my body in a better position to make consistent, hard contact.”
Back in the Frontier League for the 2023 season, the mechanical tweaks Zimmermann made at Driveline took hold immediately. His OPS jumped from .782 during his 2022 season up to a ridiculous 1.156 in 2023. In 45 games in 2022, he produced 13 extra-base hits. In 2023, that number jumped to 39 in 71 games.
It was a revelation for Zimmermann when he started to realize he was mis-hitting balls and they were leaving the yard on a consistent basis.
“I could all of a sudden hit a ball off the end of the bat and it still goes 98 mph and goes out,” he said. “That’s when the bat speed stuff really started to click. I had a couple home runs this year that weren’t clean barrels, they didn’t sound great off the bat.”
Simply put, the decision to invest in himself worked.