A group of Los Angeles Dodgers hitters descended upon Kent, Washington, this offseason to swing abnormally heavy bats under the watchful eyes of Driveline analysts, all with one mission in mind:
Hitting has never been more difficult, a truism that acts as the biggest impediment to Major League Baseball's determined efforts to increase action. None of the industry's new rules -- not pitch clocks, not shift restrictions, not bigger bases -- can change that. Pitchers throw harder than ever, with unprecedented movement, and those who are paid to conquer them are struggling to keep up.
"Nobody understands it," Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts said. "Unless you're a hitter."
Frustration, though, can often trigger curiosity. And so there was Betts, joining Max Muncy, J.D. Martinez, Gavin Lux and at least a couple of other teammates who took part in Driveline's weighted-bat program, developed to increase bat speed and, perhaps, give hitters a fighting chance against their sport's continually rising velocities.