Jackson Holliday Fantasy Outlook: A Swing Breakdown

A swing breakdown for Jackson Holliday's fantasy baseball outlook

I know what you’re thinking. “Get a load of the new guy! Really going out on a ledge writing a fantasy outlook about his favorite prospect, Jackson Holliday! Who couldn’t see that Holliday will be special?” And to be honest with you, my initial thought would be the same thing. Jackson Holliday is going to be a really good Major League contributor. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out, but I want to highlight one of the major elements that allows Holliday to be elite, his near-flawless swing mechanics.


Jackson Holliday: A Near Flawless Swing


2023 Stats (A/A+/AA/AAA): 581 PA/ .323/ .442/ .499/ 12 HR/ 24 SB/ 113 R/ 75 RBI

Since being drafted 1.01 to the Baltimore Orioles, Jackson Holliday has done nothing but hit. A little over a year since the draft, he has moved across five levels of Minor League Baseball, showcasing the tools of a future superstar. So far, he has slashed .320/.449/.490/.939 in 145 games. That slash line is super impressive for any prospect, but then considering he spent the 2023 season as a 19-year-old, the age at which most kids are freshmen in college, makes it all that more impressive. The statistical performance shows that the hype is deservedly real. Then, after digging deeper into his physical tools and breaking down the mechanics of his swing, it is evident why he is performing so well. 

Holliday was born to hit, literally. His dad, Matt Holliday, played 15 Major League seasons hitting .299/.379/.510/.889 in seven All-Star seasons, winning four Silver Slugger awards. While bloodlines play a part in the early success, Jackson has had one of the best pure hitters as his hitting coach since he first picked up a bat. This is the same hitting coach that welcomed NL Comeback Player of the Year, Cody Bellinger, and Joey Gallo to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where the Holliday Family lives and trains, to work on their swings. With all this information considered, it is apparent that there are certain core components of the swing that Matt has taught his son, creating a swing that is translatable to all levels of baseball. This has allowed Jackson’s swing to seemingly be slump-proof, even while being 7.3 years younger than the average AAA player. 


The Components of a “Slump-Proof” Swing


There are certain buzzwords/phrases in hitting circles that coaches and players at all levels preach. “Being on plane,” “staying through the ball,” and “keeping the barrel in the hitting zone” are all phrases you will hear when discussing swing mechanics. Sounds fun, but how do hitters do that? In his book “The Science of Hitting” Ted Williams put together a drawing that illustrates what it means to not only be “on plane,” but also to be “in the hitting zone.”




The top image shows a bat that is “on plane” and “in the hitting zone” for a longer time than the bottom image. This image is consistent with the recent “Launch Angle Revolution” that has changed the way people think about what allows a hitter to be successful. Teaching an uppercut swing has become the new regular for hitting coaches everywhere.

Many big-name hitters have benefited from such a technique. J.D. Martinez, Daniel Murphy, and Justin Turner are all examples, but we have also seen a major upswing (no pun intended) in swing-and-miss tendencies since the transition to these philosophies. Many batters now have a massive hole in their swing resulting in struggles with high velocity, high IVB fastballs up in the zone. Hitters with “uppercut” swings (similar to Cody Bellinger pre-2022 off-season) have struggled as the improvements in pitching development, and the importance of velocity and shape of FBs continue to take the MLB by storm. Holliday’s swing serves as an example of how hitters are adjusting to neutralize the high fastball


Defeating the High Fastball


The High IVB FB is the perfect counter-punch to batters trying to elevate the ball more. Location at the top of the zone exposes hitters who might have too much of an uppercut. What Jackson does so well is stay tall on those High FBs, and be able to match the plane of the pitch. This can be seen in this swing below.



What I really want you to pay attention to is his “side bend” or better described as the angle of his torso in comparison to the ground. Jackson recognizes the high FB, stays tall and presents his barrel flat off shoulder height. For truly elite hitters, the shoulder plane will always match their swing plane. This is highlighted in a quick video from Dante Bichette.

Hitters who can do a good job of handling the high FB, are able to present their barrel off shoulder height allowing them to “get on top” of a heater with life. Jackson is one of the best at doing this, and it makes it easy for him to still hit a pitch at the top of the zone, no matter how much IVB, in the air for an extra base hit. 


Covering Everything Else


While Jackson’s ability to handle the high fastball is impressive, what about the rest of the pitches he will see? The league always adjusts, and we have even seen Juan Soto struggle to do damage on any pitches at the bottom of the zone because he focuses on staying tall to fight against the high FB. What makes Jackson special is his ability to recognize pitch height and adjust his side bend to match the plane of the pitch. This can be seen in another video from the same game.



In this 2nd at bat, you can tell the pitch is lower in the zone. Again he does an extremely good job of hitting the ball in the air with authority, but his process of getting there is a little bit different. If you notice the swing is eerily similar, but the only thing that changes is his side bend, allowing him to still present his barrel off shoulder height, but by bending more he is able to get on plane with this pitch at the bottom of the zone. A great illustration of this is from a YouTube breakdown I did of his swing this summer.


Original video on Twitter/X from Josh Norris (@jnorris427).

Original video on Twitter/X from Josh Norris (@jnorris427).









The side view creates more difficulty in seeing the exact degree of the side bend. So, to get the proper angle, I drew the line across the letters on his jersey in comparison to the ground. The letters on his jersey are going to match the angle of his torso in comparison to the ground. The angle of his torso against the high fastball is more upright at 55 degrees. That allows him to stay tall and get on plane with the pitch. Then, on the pitch lower in the zone, the angle changes roughly 10 degrees down to a 45-degree angle. Creating that increase in bend is what allows him to match everything. He is taking the same swing plane off shoulder height, but allowing his body to orient by the pitch height and drive the ball in the air effectively.

This is what allows him to consistently barrel balls in the air, no matter what the pitcher’s plan of attack is. If he is facing a bowling ball sinker guy attacking him down in the zone, he adjusts his side bend to bend more and be on plane with a low pitch. Then if a pitcher comes in attacking with high IVB fastballs up in the zone, he focuses on being more upright to match the plane of that pitch. A hitter who is able to match plane with every pitch, creates a swing that is slump-proof, which Jackson has shown through five MiLB levels. 


Fantasy Outlook


This was supposed to be about fantasy baseball, right? So let’s get back to that. Jackson Holliday is a special prospect. The anticipation is that he will be in the Major Leagues as early as 2024. Jackson will be an immediate impact guy for the Orioles and Fantasy owners everywhere. He already possesses an 80-grade hit tool, showcasing elite bat-to-ball skills and above-average power, while also clocking plus run times that should translate to some SB production. Jackson has dominated every level he has played at, and all signs point to that continuing as he nears closer to his MLB debut.

The best part is, he is only 20 years old (as of 3 weeks ago) and still physically developing. Similar to what we saw with fellow Oriole Gunnar Henderson, Holliday’s power should continue developing as he physically matures. Imagining this bat profile with the addition of 15 lbs of muscle, maintaining his elite barrel awareness and plate discipline, allows you to dream on a special player. I will leave you with a video of the Holliday family home run derby with metal bats. Get used to it, the Holliday name will be around for a long time because there is another one coming!



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