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Ranking the most aesthetically pleasing swings in the Yankees lineup

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Spring is coming. Let’s dream about Yankee swings.

MLB: AL Wild Card-Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training starts this month, enticing Yankee fans tired of the offseason to dream of the coming season. I’m dying of actual baseball action myself, so much so that I got to thinking about my favorite swings by players in the Yankees’ lineup. Here are my rankings for the top five. Feel free to debate them in the comments below.

5. Luke Voit

Some swings are smooth as silk, with every stage - the toe tap/leg kick, hands loading, hips rotating, the bat speeding through the strike zone, and the follow through - all connected in a single, fluid, kinetic chain. Luke Voit’s swing is not one of them. It is sudden and it is violent, like a moray emerging from its grotto to snag an unsuspecting fish. It is the Platonic ideal of a slugging first baseman’s swing.

It starts off quietly enough, with a modest step forward with his left foot while his hands load. Immediately after his foot makes contact with the dirt, however, havoc is unleashed. Voit whips his bat through the zone with lightning speed, a testament to his tremendous upper-body strength. Even when his timing is slightly late, like his swing in the linked video above, the ball rockets off the barrel like a golf drive. The brief and awkward follow-through is much appreciated as well, like a comic reprieve in a mobster flick. What the swing lacks in elegance, it more than makes up for in power and visceral catharsis. Easily a top-5 cut in this Yankees lineup.

4. Didi Gregorius

Didi’s swing is surprisingly short and compact for the power it produces, but economy is not the only reason why it appears on this list. It is commendable for Didi’s awareness of his strengths as a hitter; it is tailor-made to drive pitches to right field with authority.

This design is reflected even in the way Didi stands at the plate, his hips ever so slightly open while his upper body remains perpendicular to the plate, cocked and ready to unload. When a meatball is offered in his wheelbarrow, Didi scoops it up with his barrel with amazing precision, sending it to right field on a line, or in the case of the video above, on a collision course with the moon. Even his follow-through puts Didi in perfect position to admire his work, and maybe even punctuate the occasion with a flip of the bat. 10/10, would watch again.

3. Brett Gardner

Greg Kirkland is definitely not standing behind me with a bat and taking practice swings millimeters away from the back of my head as I type this. Jokes aside, Gardner’s swing has a crude beauty to it that I’ve always appreciated. The longtime Yankee’s ability to mold his swing to fit the situation - whether it be to foul off a tough offering, slap a low pitch back up the middle, or put a charge into a meatball - is nothing short of uncanny.

The beauty of Gardner’s swing, and the skills of the man who wields it, are on full display in the video above. Gardner gets a breaking ball down the heart of the plate but below the zone. Rather than seeking to golf it, Gardner slashes at it like Marth’s forward-A move in Super Smash Bros., sending it back to center field in a hurry. While Gardner’s offensive production has slipped in the past year, his swing still retains his trademark grittiness and guttiness.

2. Gary Sanchez

There are many impressive features in Gary Sanchez’s swing; the pronounced but tasteful leg kick, the speed with which his body uncoils, the swagger in his follow-through. But the most aesthetically pleasing aspect, in my humble opinion, is the dexterity of his wrists. I know little about hitting mechanics, but it seems to me that his wrists are what allows him to have power to all fields, resembling Miguel Cabrera (at least when Gary isn’t swinging at crap). They give his swing a whip-like quality, generating elite bat speed and a lithe beauty unbecoming of Sanchez’s stocky physique.

Watch the leg kick that serves as the overture for the subsequent display of power. Notice how his belly swings along with the rotation of his hips, seemingly adding to the centrifugal force of his swing, almost like a modern-day Babe Ruth. And make sure to rewind multiple times to fully appreciate the dexterity of his wrists.

1. Aaron Judge

Have you ever thought about how huge objects appear to move slowly even when they’re actually moving at tremendous speeds? Like a jumbo jet gliding across the sky, or a mega-tanker perched on the horizon, or the earth’s rotation viewed from the International Space Station (okay, I haven’t actually seen that last one with my own two eyes, but you get the idea). That is what Aaron Judge reminds me of, every time he graces us with his massive, majestic swing.

The contact which Aaron Judge makes is horrifying, but the swing that produces it is so beautiful. Its smoothness and ease makes it seem almost like a choreographed wave, meeting the baseball at a predetermined location. When Judge makes good contact - which happens often - he pauses just long enough during his follow-through to watch the ball sail far out into the sky, as if even he’s a little amazed at what he did. I know I am, no matter how many times I see it.