ST. LOUIS — During the 2022 MLB season, Harrison Bader struggled until a breakout postseason with his hometown team. A small change is now being heard and seen throughout the baseball world.
Harrison Bader had a batting average of .256 and 21 RBIs in 72 games with the St. Louis Cardinals during the regular season.
He had five homers in almost 300 at-bats during that span.
He spent time on the injured list battling plantar fasciitis and was traded to his hometown team, the New York Yankees, at the trade deadline.
Bader joined the team at the end of the season, coming off the IL, and reached the postseason with the Yankees.
The resurgence of Bader was a sight to see during the team's postseason run.
He hit five home runs in 30 at-bats in the playoffs, nearly doubling his OPS from the regular season.
So, what changed?
"He first got those bats five days prior to the playoffs," said Grady Phelan.
Phelan developed and patented in 2006 a new type of baseball bat due to his own experience with the modern type.
Nineteen years ago while hitting fungoes to his son, the bat flew right out of his hands, nearly hitting his son and leaving a mark on his hand.
That's where the idea began.
The bat he developed has an angeled knob based on bio-mechanics, now called the Pro XR.
"The relationship between the hand and the bat changes cause (players to) swing through, they pronate their wrist, they move their wrist toward their pinky side and the knob compresses into the palm. So when a player swings and goes through that contact, that knob acts like a speed bump in their hand," Phelan said.
The advantage of Pro XR? Phelan built it to match the range of motion of the hand when a player swings through.
MLB players including Pete Alonso with the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals' own Tyler O'Neill use this type of bat. The company has about 30 major league players hitting with the bat as of this season.
Many up-and-coming NCAA players are also using it as it is approved by the organization.
Maryville University senior Stephen Randazzo uses the Pro XR and is a believer in the bat.
"It's the real deal in stepping up your hand movement and getting you in the right slot to not roll over every time you get a breaking ball," Randazzo said.
The bat claims to escalate the exit velocity and reduce some of the contusions and welts that hitters often get on the hamate bone with hitting.
The Pro XR is expanding to being used on hockey sticks, golf clubs, pickle ball rackets, field hockey and lacrosse sticks.
The niche though for the company—and bat—is still baseball.
"Baseball is so beholden to history and tradition, and changing the bat knob is almost illegal in their mind," Phelan said. "So getting guys to change something as intimate as how they hold a bat, that connection between their hand and the bat, it changes that feeling in their hand. So it is an uphill battle. But the data is what has been saving the day for us."
The data shows itself, and Harrison Bader is an example of what a small change can do to a major league player.
Find more information about Pro XR on their website here.