Blast from the Past: Chris Maldonado, 2022

By Joe Tourville
Partner, Blast Motion

Chris Maldonado (Seton Hall Prep HS, NJ, 2022) has a swing that is well worth plagiarizing, if the aspiring hitter had the ability to do so. The simplicity of Maldonado’s swing gives the impression that any hitter can replicate it. Although it may be easy to replicate it aesthetically, the principles that are yielded from the mechanics of each swing are not easily attained by other hitters. It doesn’t take much scouting work to grasp the concept that Maldonado is an exceptional hitter. The results of the batted balls speak to that, and loudly. But the better question is how does a hitter with such a simple swing become so successful, and why don’t other hitters with what looks like a similarly simple stance, load, and swing have equal success? The answers to those questions can not be answered with result-oriented metrics, such as exit velocity, launch angle, and distance of each batted ball. Those answers lie among the process-oriented metrics, the ones that answer the why for the what – for this, we look at Blast Motion

As it turns out, we’ve been monitoring Maldonado since we came across his Blast metrics recorded at PBR New Jersey’s Garden State Games in 2021. We also saw him in person at the 2022 Super 60, where we also captured his Blast data.

At both events, Maldonado put up incredibly impressive numbers. At the Garden State Games in 2021, he averaged 73.8 mph in bat speed, while peaking at 78.1. At the Super 60, Maldonado’s average bat speed improved to 76.4 mph, and his peak improved to 79.1. Maldonado checks the bat speed box, one we believe is a prerequisite for success at the pro level, and he has raw strength.

But it’s also essential to be able to accelerate into your bat speed quickly. For this, we look at Rotational Acceleration.

At the 2021 Garden State Games, Maldonado averaged 20.3g of rotational acceleration, and he peaked at 25.2. At the 2022 Super 60, he averaged 23.2g and peaked at 27.7, again displaying a year-over-year improvement. Maldonado’s rotational acceleration metrics are exemplary for any hitter wishing to reach the highest levels of professional baseball, especially if they have a relationship with the bat speed numbers he is producing.

Many hitters have similar bat speed numbers as Maldonado but they can not, or will not, be as successful. Why is this? Because Maldonado can accelerate into his peak bat speed much faster than other aspiring hitters. The other hitters with high bat speed numbers and low rotational acceleration numbers take a long time to build into that peak bat speed, forcing them to make the decision to swing earlier, whereas Maldonado can make the decision to swing later – this enables Maldonado to be less vulnerable to elite-level pitches, such as fastballs with high spin, or a similarly tunneled sliders with major bite.

Below is a scatterplot of Maldonado’s Power Profile from the Garden State Games, specifically the relationship between his bat speed and rotational acceleration (the green box is the target zone):

Here is Maldonado’s Power Profile scatterplot from the Super 60 (the green box is the target zone):

These are pretty remarkable outcomes. 

This year, Maldonado started his freshman campaign with Vanderbilt where he is off to an impressive start, slashing .351/.424/.667 in 16 games, 57 at-bats. He’s also putting that power profile to work early. Seven of his first nine hits at Vandy went for extra bases (six doubles; one home run), and he's maintained the hot streak, recording another three extra-base hits this past weekend in a Vanderbilt sweep at Mississippi State.

We at Blast look forward to following what we think will be a long and successful career for Maldonado.


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