Here's the prettiest swing in every team's history

May 29th, 2021

There's no exact science behind what makes an aesthetically pleasing swing. Left-handed or right-handed, uppercut or level, high leg kick or toe tap, whatever the components, you know a sweet swing when you see one. The swings below certainly fit the bill.

Here are 30 of the sweetest swings in Major League history -- one for each team -- as chosen by's beat reporters. (“RHH” and “LHH” denote right-handed hitter or left-handed hitter.)

American League East

Blue Jays: John Olerud, 1B, LHH
Years with team: 1989-96

Once described as “a swing so sweet it should be poured on pancakes” in a 1993 Sports Illustrated story, John Olerud’s stroke was a left-handed classic. Olerud could adjust to pitches without a hitch, and featured the high, picturesque finish on home run swings. It was on full display in his chase for a .400 average in 1993, which teammate Paul Molitor, then 36, called “the best period that I've ever seen a hitter have.” The great Don Mattingly even studied Olerud’s swing to help pull him out of a slump while he was still playing. Watch Olerud's swing >

Orioles: Rafael Palmeiro, 1B, LHH
Years with team: 1994-98, 2004-05

The Orioles have never wanted for sweet left-handed swings, thanks to the likes of Brady Anderson, Harold Baines, Ken Singleton, Will Clark (briefly) and many others. But few in MLB history have ever matched the aesthetic heights brought to the box by Palmeiro, whose effortlessly elegant stroke was the envy of so many over the span of his 20 MLB seasons. Easy, balanced and powerful, Palmiero’s swing inspired both fear and wonder, and seemed to fold into itself with perfect symmetry, like something found in nature. Perhaps Brad Ausmus said it best to ESPN in 2005: “It’s almost as if the bat is swinging itself.” Watch Palmeiro's swing >

Rays: Evan Longoria, 3B, RHH
Years with team: 2008-17

Not only is Longoria the best player in Rays history, but his swing fundamentals are exactly what you want to see out of a right-handed hitter. Longoria was always balanced at the plate, helping him extend his hands out to create power. His technique was perfect, and something younger players should emulate. Longoria would finish off his swing by letting go of the bat with one hand, making it look even sweeter. MLB Network commentator and former MLB player Mark DeRosa said of Longo's swing in 2015: “If I could go back and start my career over, I want to hit like Evan Longoria.” Watch Longoria's swing >

Red Sox: Ted Williams, OF, LHH
Years with team: 1939-60

The iconic Williams once uttered, “I just want someone to see me walking down the street and say, ‘There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.'” It was a bold statement that also might very well have been true. Backed by a picturesque left-handed swing that looked almost flawless, Williams hit .406 in 1941. No player has hit .400 since. The reason Williams had such a sweet swing wasn’t all God-given. He obsessed over hitting perhaps more than anyone who came before or after him. He is, after all, the author of a book called “The Science of Hitting.” Amazingly, Williams hit .388 in 1957, his age-38 season. Watch Williams' swing >

Yankees: Don Mattingly, 1B, LHH
Years with team: 1982-95

For a period of the 1980s, Don Mattingly's beautiful left-handed stroke had the Yankees fan favorite on a path toward Cooperstown. The 1985 American League MVP, Mattingly was arguably MLB's best hitter from 1984-89, averaging 27 homers and 114 RBIs with a .327 batting average and an MLB-best .530 slugging percentage over that span before back injuries affected his production. Mattingly also paced the Majors in extra-base hits (428) and RBIs (684) over those six seasons.

AL Central

Indians: Manny Ramirez, OF, RHH
Years with team: 1993-2000

The mid-to-late 1990s Indians teams were some of the best in franchise history, and one of the key pieces to those lineups was a young Ramirez. He placed second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 1994 and earned his first All-Star selection and Silver Slugger in ‘95 with an iconic right-handed swing that will be remembered for generations to come. Ramirez began his swing with his hands high above his head and finished with his one-handed follow-through in a swift, fluid motion. Once Ramirez reached the 1998 season, he hit his offensive prime, getting selected to 11 straight All-Star Games (three with Cleveland, eight with Boston). In 1999, he posted an AL-best 1.105 OPS and .663 slugging percentage with an MLB-leading 165 RBIs. He finished his eight-year stint with the Tribe after the 2000 season, hitting .313 with a .998 OPS, 236 homers and 804 RBIs. Watch Ramirez's swing >

Royals: George Brett, 3B, LHH
Years with team: 1973-1993

Brett’s beautiful swing was the result of the teachings of revolutionary batting coach Charley Lau, who preached several basic tenets, from weight shift of the back leg to the front, to top-hand release on the bat, to lead-arm extension with the bat pointing up in the follow-through. "Releasing the top hand and the weight shift was foreign to me," Brett said a few years ago. "I don’t think many hitters in my time understood the importance of lead-arm extension and creating backspin to get more distance. But you watch Major League Baseball now, he's had a tremendous influence on today’s great hitters. They’re doing many of the things [Charley] taught me.” Watch Brett's swing >

Tigers: Al Kaline, OF, RHH
Years with team: 1953-74

Kaline grew up idolizing Ted Williams and Stan Musial, both left-handed hitters, but the kid from Baltimore formed a smooth, sweet swing of his own from the right side playing countless games in high school, American Legion and even semi-pro ball. Williams took a liking to Kaline in his first full season and taught him to swing a heavy bat in the offseason to improve his wrists and to squeeze a ball to strengthen his hands, both of which Kaline said paid off. Hank Aaron described Kaline's swing as sweeping when they faced each other on the Home Run Derby television show in the 1950s. Kaline could crush pitches low in the zone, but he was just as effective sending a line drive into right field. His quick wrists allowed him an extra split-second on tough pitches. "Kaline's got great wrists," teammate Harvey Kuenn told reporters when Kaline won the batting title at age 20 in 1955. "He takes the ball right out of the catcher's mitt." Watch Kaline's swing >

Twins: Joe Mauer, C, LHH
Years with team: 2004-18

They say that Mauer’s swing hasn’t changed too much since his days whacking baseballs around his front yard in St. Paul -- and why mess with the naturally beautiful motion that led to a .306 career batting average, 2,123 hits, three American League batting titles and an MVP award? Honed from an early age with the “Mauer QuickSwing,” an invention of his father’s that dropped baseballs into the strike zone from a contraption of pipes, Mauer’s swing was simple, balanced, compact and consistent, with bat speed and control that not only helped him maintain a high average, but also avoid strikeouts (he had more walks than strikeouts in six MLB seasons). His line-drive ability -- particularly to the opposite field -- mostly limited his home run numbers, but he made up for it by retiring as the club’s all-time leader in doubles.

White Sox: Robin Ventura, 3B, LHH
Years with team: 1989-98

There’s little doubt Frank Thomas was the greatest offensive player in franchise history, but it’s Robin Ventura, his teammate in the 1990s with the White Sox, who possessed the sweetest swing. Ventura, who is arguably the greatest third baseman in franchise history, had a smooth, fluid and effortless approach at the plate, resulting in 171 home runs and an .805 OPS over 10 years on the South Side. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage had a first-hand look at that swing when Ventura connected for a walk-off grand slam against the Rangers on July 21, 1991. The left-handed swing of Yoan Moncada, the team’s current standout third baseman and a switch-hitter, rates right up there with Ventura's in terms of effortless excellence. Watch Ventura's swing >

AL West

Angels: Mike Trout, OF, RHH
Years with team: 2011-present

Mike Trout’s swing is as consistent as they come, and he makes it look easy with his ability to drive pitches down in the zone. Trout has a slight uppercut in his swing, but it allows him to drive the ball into the air, leading to his prodigious power. Trout explains his swing as inside-out, which allows him to hit the ball with power to all fields, as he keeps his hands close to his body. He has a unique shoulder dip before he unloads on the baseball and his athleticism helps him keep perfect balance on almost every swing. Watch Trout's swing >

Astros: Terry Puhl, OF, LHH
Years with team: 1977-90

Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Canada, Puhl carved out a 14-year career with the Astros that touched three decades. With his steady left-handed swing, Puhl amassed 1,361 career hits with 62 homers in 15 seasons and hit .526 (10-for-19) in the 1980 NLCS.

Athletics: Matt Olson, 1B, LHH
Years with team: 2016-present

As a kid in Georgia, Olson spent countless hours trying to emulate Ken Griffey Jr.’s swing in his backyard. Now that he’s in the Majors, Olson has developed his own approach that's unlike any other hitter currently in the game. He begins his stance with his arms extended out, holding his bat away from his body at about shoulder level. Once Olson makes the decision to swing, the hands move back into the launch position, producing what appears to be a smooth and effortless swing. But make no mistake, that swing packs a ton of power. Olson managed to crush a career-high 36 homers last season despite missing the first month of the season due to injury, and he has mashed 89 home runs over his first 359 games in the big leagues. Watch Olson's swing >

Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr., OF, LHH
Years with team: 1989-99, 2009-10

There might not have been a sweeter swing than Ken Griffey Jr.'s. The left-handed slugger's pre-pitch bat waggle, silky smooth stroke and dramatic one-handed follow through were emulated by a generation of players who grew up watching The Kid. “One of the smoothest swings ever,” said Robinson Canó. Edgar Martinez owned one of MLB’s best right-handed swings, but he understood Griffey’s left-handed stroke was a thing of special beauty: “Junior’s swing was very unique. Very smooth. The path through the zone was one of the best in the game.” His iconic swing is certainly one of the main reasons Griffey’s plaque now hangs in Cooperstown and his statue -- capturing his picture-perfect follow through -- stands in front of T-Mobile Park in Seattle.

Rangers: Jeff Burroughs, OF, RHH
Years with team: 1970-76

A right-handed power-hitter, Burroughs became the first MVP Award winner in franchise history in 1974. That season, Burroughs hit .301/.397/.504 with 25 home runs and 118 RBIs, despite playing home games at Arlington Stadium, a tough place for hitters because of the south winds blowing in from the outfield. “[Burroughs had a] smooth, effortless swing that would hold up to current analytics,” said Rangers broadcaster Tom Grieve.

National League East

Braves: Adam LaRoche, 1B, LHH
Years with team: 2004-06

It would be easy to go with Chipper Jones, especially from the left side. And the homer that decided the 1995 World Series will fortunately forever give fans a chance to see the beauty of David Justice’s swing. But the prettiest swing in Braves history belonged to Adam LaRoche, whose swing was as smooth as his easy-going personality. “They told me before I saw him, this kid has some kind of swing,” said Terry Pendleton, who coached LaRoche after playing with Jones and Justice. “I said nobody has a prettier swing than David Justice. I found out somebody had a prettier swing. Dave had a pretty swing, but that Adam LaRoche swing was beautiful.” Watch LaRoche's swing >

Marlins: Gary Sheffield, OF, RHH
Years with team: 1993-98

For Marlins’ fans, each Sheffield at-bat was must-see-TV from 1993-98. In his six years with the organization, Sheffield belted 122 home runs, and he racked up 509 in his 22-year big league career. Sheffield’s swing, itself, was filled with flare, and he possessed the ability to slug, while also being a pure hitter. During his career, he arguably had the fastest hands in the game. Sheffield had a unique stance, standing upright, with a back-and-forth bat waggle that he used as a timing mechanism. And when he was ready to attack the baseball, his bat speed was second to none. Watch Sheffield's swing >

Mets: Darryl Strawberry, OF, LHH
Years with team: 1983-90

The list of Flushing’s prettiest swings spans generations, from Keith Hernandez to John Olerud, Michael Conforto and Robinson Canó. With a nod to all of those left-handed swings, none of them quite compared to the looping uppercut that made Strawberry famous in the mid-1980s. He used it to hit a Mets-record 252 homers, plus 83 more with the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants. Watch Strawberry's swing >

Nationals: Vladimir Guerrero, OF, RHH
Years with team: 1996-2003

Going back to the franchise's years in Montreal, Guerrero dominated with a unique approach to his swing -- he didn’t wear batting gloves. "I never used them since I was small, so I don’t really like them,” he told in 2007. In eight seasons with the Expos, Guerrero won three of his eight Silver Slugger Awards. He also was named to four All-Star Games, en route to nine over his 16-year career. In total, the Hall of Famer won the 2004 Most Valuable Player Award as a member of the Angels, and he slashed .318/.379/.553 with a .931 OPS and 449 home runs. Glimpses of Gurrero’s swing still can be seen in today’s game through the at-bats of his son, Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Phillies: Chase Utley, 2B, LHH
Years with team: 2003-15

Phillies fans loved Chase Utley. They loved him so much that they named their children after him. Seriously. From 2007-11, when the Phillies won five consecutive National League East titles, two NL pennants and one World Series, the name Chase averaged 68th in popularity nationally, but 33rd in popularity in Pennsylvania. It moved into the No. 9 spot in 2009 after the Phillies won the World Series the previous year. Utley had plenty of admirable qualities, but everybody gushed about his swing -- short, compact, quick as a whip. He struck the baseball like a cobra, snapping his hands through the zone in a blink of an eye. Boom. “His short swing, it’s pretty amazing,” childhood Phillies fan Mike Trout told The Athletic in 2018. “I remember in ’08, watching him in the playoffs, and now playing against him, it’s like the same exact swing. It hasn’t changed one bit. It’s pretty impressive, and it’s hard to do.” Watch Utley's swing >

NL Central

Brewers: Cecil Cooper, 1B, LHH
Years with team: 1977-87

Paul Molitor and Ryan Braun represent some of the sweetest right-handed swings of all time, but Cooper’s quick-yet-smooth approach from the left side of the plate made him one of the best (if often underappreciated) hitters of his generation. After studying Rod Carew’s swing during batting practice, Cooper adopted the Carew crouch, and his career took off. “I’ll just say it: I mimicked him,” Cooper said. “It was a big change for me. It came about because I had trouble with hard stuff inside. I had to figure out a way to get to that stuff, and for me, the only way to do it was open my hips up. Boom. It was like night and day. I started to see the ball and everything took off.” In all, Cooper logged a .302 average in 10 years with Milwaukee. Sal Bando once called Cooper the best hitter in baseball, and Robin Yount says Cooper was as good a hitter as any who ever donned a Brewers uniform. Watch Cooper's swing >

Cardinals: Jim Edmonds, OF, LHH
Years with team: 2000-07

Albert Pujols has one of the sweetest swings as a right-handed batter with his calm, composed brutality at the plate. But Edmonds’ signature, left-handed uppercut swing was as efficient as it was pretty. The former center fielder hit .285/.393/.555 in eight years with the Cardinals with 241 home runs and 713 RBIs. He’s known for his highlight reel of catches, but he had power at the plate, perhaps best remembered by his walk-off home run to deep right field in Game 6 of the 2004 NL Championship Series against Houston. Edmonds didn’t have a big leg kick and stood straight up in the box with his front hip slightly inward. After coiling into the back hip, he exploded in a fluid motion when he saw a pitch he liked. Good luck getting a high fastball by him.

Cubs: Billy Williams, OF, LHH
Years with team: 1959-74

There is a reason that “Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams” became the nickname of the Cubs’ legendary outfielder. Over the course of his 18 big league seasons, Williams topped a .300 average five times, won a batting title (1972) and amassed at least 200 hits three times (leading the Majors in ‘70). Williams not only hit for average, but also for power (426 homers and 434 doubles). Willie Stargell once called Williams’ quick-wristed, left-handed swing “poetry in motion.” Williams credits childhood trips to the grocery store, where he and his friends would find bottle tops and hit them with a thin stick. “He had a thing, and people don't know what he did, but I'd see him do it all the time,” said former Cubs teammate Fergie Jenkins. “Before he went to hit, he'd chew some gum -- Wrigley's gum -- he'd spit it out of his mouth and hit it with the bat. He never missed. In the on-deck circle before he went up to hit. He never missed.” Watch Williams' swing >

Pirates: Paul Waner, OF, LHH
Years with team: 1926-40

The Pirates have had some famous, aesthetically pleasing swings in their long history. Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and Barry Bonds punished balls with their left-handed swings. More recently, Andrew McCutchen (influenced by Ken Griffey Jr.) and Starling Marte looked super smooth when they were on. But Waner, the Hall of Famer, owns the highest batting average in Pirates history (.340) for a reason. The left-handed batter, who struck out in only 3.5 percent of his career plate appearances, could hit anything. “Big Poison” might have fit right in during this launch-angle era, as Ted Williams wrote in The Science of Hitting that Waner “used to say you uppercut a low pitch.” Waner kept his swing quite simple, though, once telling The Sporting News, “Be relaxed and don't wave the bat, don't clench it. Be ready to hit down with the barrel of the bat. Just swing it and let the weight drive the ball.” Watch Waner's swing >

Reds: Eric Davis, OF, RHH
Years with team: 1984-91, '96

Davis kept his hands low, and they were cobra-quick in connecting with the ball, which left the right-handed hitter’s bat in a hurry. Davis had Cincinnati’s first 30-homer, 30-steal season in 1987, was the last Red to hit for the cycle in 1989 and hit a huge home run in Game 1 to set the tone for a 1990 World Series sweep over the A’s. He hit 203 of his 282 career home runs while with the Reds and went to two All-Star Games. While Ken Griffey Jr. certainly belongs in this conversation as well, his best years and biggest contributions came with the Mariners. Watch Davis' swing >

NL West

D-backs: Mark Grace, 1B, LHH
Years with team (2001-03)

Grace came to Arizona from the Cubs and brought with him that sweet left-handed hitting stroke. He had the ability to somehow get the bat on the ball to foul off and spoil a pitcher’s nasty offering. That might not have always looked pretty, but when he would put the ball in play, it was with that slightly uppercut swing that he would effortlessly drive the ball to either gap. There’s a reason no player had more hits in the 1990s than Grace. Watch Grace's swing >

Dodgers: Pedro Guerrero, OF, RHH
Years with team: 1978-88

In his 1986 Baseball Abstract, baseball historian Bill James called Pedro Guerrero "the best hitter God has made in a long time." Injuries and behaviorial issues kept Guerrero from fulfilling James’ scouting report, but seven seasons of hitting .300 attest to Guerrero’s classic swing, the purest and most lethal in L.A. Dodgers history. "The guy is scary," said outfielder Gary Matthews, who went on to become an MLB hitting coach. "He lays off borderline pitches, and he hits everything else hard." Watch Guerrero's swing >

Giants: Will Clark, 1B, LHH
Years with team: 1986-93

Before he became "The Thrill," Clark was known as "The Natural." It didn't take him long to show why. In his first Major League at-bat, Clark crushed a fastball from Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan out to center field for a home run, showcasing the gorgeous left-handed swing that made him a fixture with the Giants from 1986-93. "He had the sweetest swing that anyone had ever seen, an uppercut with a long, loopy follow-through that made it seem as if he were wielding a buggy whip instead of a 32-ounce bat," Sports Illustrated's E.M. Swift wrote in 1990. The Giants are expected to honor Clark by retiring his No. 22 at some point this year.

Padres: Tony Gwynn, OF, LHH
Years with team: 1982-2001

This might have been a fun debate -- Gary Sheffield’s ferociously quick hands, Fred McGriff’s short stride and always-flawless bat path, Adrian Gonzalez’s ease of operations. But, well, Gwynn played for the Padres. So the debate ends there. Gwynn’s fluid left-handed stroke earned him eight batting titles and 15 trips to the All-Star Game. His swing -- compact yet aggressive, smooth yet decisive -- is one of the most recognizable in the history of the sport. Gwynn, who finished with a .338 career batting average -- the highest mark since Ted Williams -- is immortalized mid-swing with a statue beyond the right-field fence at Petco Park. Watch Gwynn's swing >

Rockies: Todd Helton, 1B, LHH
Years with team: 1997-2013

Helton had a loose-handed but firm chopping motion as he awaited the pitch, as if he was sending a message -- no matter where the ball is thrown, he would get the bat to it, and too juicy a location would mean a home run. But it runs deeper than the 2,519 hits and 369 home runs, all with the Rockies. He was the king of the long at-bat, with his ability to spoil tough pitches for foul balls. With age, Helton increased his leg kick, but the quick hands and torque from his lower body never changed. The explosion off his bat was not far behind Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza. And if you were close enough, you could hear a soul-baring grunt that gave away how much force went into what looked like an easy swing. Watch Helton's swing >