The realization came to Rick Schu this spring as he sat in front of a screen, collecting baseball swings. All winter, Schu, the Washington Nationals’ hitting coordinator, had been watching “Baseball” by Ken Burns, a Christmas gift from his wife. He burned clips from the DVD and compiled classic swings — Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth. As he watched Ruth, Schu paused the video and asked himself a question: Didn’t Bryce Harper have a swing just like that?
Schu scanned through video and found film of Harper hitting. He arranged clips of Harper and Ruth side-by-side on the monitor and stopped at the moment each hitter’s bat connected with a pitch. In each still picture, he saw a stiff front leg, an uncoiling torso and a back foot lifting off the ground. “Wow,” he thought. “That’s identical.”