Minnesota Twins outfielder Delmon Young had his best season as a professional last year. He hit .298 with 21 home runs and 112 RBI and finished 10th in MVP voting. This was not a surprise to P3, as Delmon worked as hard as anyone last off-season and made huge physical gains. In fact Dr. Elliott went on record with Major League managers and GM’s at last year’s Science of Hitting Symposium saying that he thought Delmon would have a great season, due to the measurable changes in his physical tools.
Delmon has always had an excellent nervous system, along with plenty of power and strength and while everyone noticed his weight loss and improved physique last season, Delmon’s most important physical gain was his right ankle mobility. In past seasons Delmon’s lack of right ankle mobility made it nearly impossible for him to set up positive horizontal ground angles and utilize his powerful lower half when swinging. It was also difficult for him to load and stay back affecting his ability to stay on a plane when rotating.
While Delmon’s ankle mobility improved tremendously last off-season, Dr. Elliott and P3 performance specialists continued to work on Delmon’s ankle mobility this off-season along with his shoulder mobility, hip mobility and hip extension as a way of continuing to improve his range of motion in dynamic movements.
When working on ankle mobility we like to warm athletes up with low to moderate intensity plyometrics, always emphasizing dorsiflexion. Front squats and trap bar dead lifts are both great strength movements for Delmon. When these strength exercises are done properly, they significantly improve range of motion in the ankle and force hip extension. Having good hip extension is very important for baseball players as it allows them to explosively move their hips through a full range of motion, giving them more horizontal and rotational power. We like to complex these strength movements with aggressive plyometric movements. Delmon’s in-season programs provided by P3 will continue to work on these physical systems.
Delmon had an amazing spring, hitting .410 (16-for-39) with three home runs and nine RBIs. While P3 plays a very important role in developing Delmon’s physical tools, there are many variables that have gone into making Delmon such a great player. A recent article by David Dorsey of the News Press quotes many of Delmon’s teammates and managers regarding his success, and examines how he is becoming one of the elite hitters in baseball.
The only player that may be hotter than Delmon Young right now is Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin. In his last 10 spring training games, Carlos was 17-for-35 with five home runs, four doubles and 10 RBIs. After three regular season games Carlos is hitting .545 with 1 HR, 3 DB and 7 RBIs.
According to Chicago White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker, “Carlos is in a great spot…I tip my hat to the guy for what he did this winter. This just didn’t happen by chance. He worked for it…He’s swinging fantastic, as good as I’ve ever seen him.”
This was Carlos’ second off-season training at P3. Carlos is an extremely powerful individual. He is also hyper mobile in his hips and ankles, which gives him unique advantages as a rotational athlete. While being hyper mobile gives athletes like Carlos’ certain advantages, we also have to make sure the mobility is balanced with stability.
Carlos has had a few injury problems the past couple seasons, with his knee being the most recent. For athletes like Carlos who are hyper mobile, play all out and are extremely big and powerful, it is essential that they are stable and have sound mechanics. Much of what we did with Carlos this off-season addressed the underlying mechanisms that lead to knee problems. From day one, hip stability, posterior chain, and ground contacts were the main issues being addressed at P3.
Hip stability is a quality that allows an athlete to set proper ground angles and safely transfer force from the lower body to the trunk. Hip and trunk position have a major impact on the types of forces applied across the knee. Corrective strategies for athletes that need more hip stability often include warm ups that create awareness and activate hip stabilizers (Band Waltz, clamshells), followed by single leg unsupported exercises that force stabilization in multiple planes. Along with hip stability work, Carlos’ workouts included a lot of ground contact drills and posterior chain work.
At P3 we provide the integration of smart training and physical therapy and soft tissue work. For athletes like Carlos combining these core focuses are vital for longevity and success. Testing results at the end of the off-season revealed that Carlos is as powerful as ever, he also puts less sheer force across his knee when asked to make baseball specific movements. We expect to see Carlos playing at a very high level for years to come.
More on Carlos below: