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Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Examples of Strategy Used in Baseball
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By Brian Schofield
Baseball is commonly thought of as the sport that involves the most strategy. To be successful in the sport players not only need to be strong and athletic, they also need to be very knowledgeable. This article highlights a few examples of how understanding the game better can sometimes be more important than muscle or speed.
Outfielders Moving Back in Later Innings
When you are watching a game, it isn't uncommon for the announcers to mention that the outfield has backed up in an effort to 'limit extra base hits'. An extra base hit is something that goes for more than a single. If the outfield plays a little deeper, it makes it harder for a hit ball to slip between the players. People ask me, "if the players are deeper, isn't it harder to throw the runners out?" Sure it is, but major league players hit the ball hard and it gets to the outfielders very quickly. Many players simply are not fast enough to run down a hard hit ball and if the ball gets past them, the play can quickly turn into a double or worse yet, a triple. Shifting the outfielders to a deep position is usually done when a team is ahead. The goal is to force the losing team to get 4 hits to score a runner, which is very hard to do. The strategy usually isn't employed early in games because it gives opposing teams too much opportunity to score single runs. By backing up the outfielders, teams are trying to avoid the big innings.
When I was growing up, a starting pitcher would throw every 4th day and it wasn't uncommon for them to pitch an entire game. Pitchers often threw for 300 innings a year while remaining healthy. So what has changed? Today's pitchers are paid a lot more than they were 20 years ago and with such a large investment, teams are not willing to risk the chance of injury which increases with the number of pitches thrown. Pitchers are now played and rotated based on the "pitch count". At 100 pitches you'll see most managers looking to make a pitching change, even though it may look like the pitcher is doing fine.
I personally love this move. It is a favorite of teams that have players who are defensive specialists. It is also a great strategy for teams with hitters who excel against certain pitchers. In a double switch, two players are replaced to change the hitting lineup. For example, the Chicago Cubs right fielder Cliff Floyd ends the inning with a grounder to second base. Instead of Cliff going back into the field the Cubs remove him for another player like Craig Monroe. At the same time, the Cubs also change pitchers but instead of the replacement pitcher hitting in 9th spot where the previous pitcher was hitting, he now replaces Cliff Floyd in the lineup with Craig Monroe hitting 9th. This is called a legal double switch. Teams use this strategy so the pitcher doesn't have to hit for a couple more innings and it gives regular players more at bats. It also allows the team to get the better defender in the game for the later innings or the hitter that hits better off of lefties for example. This strategy gives the team manager greater flexibility with the roster.
Brian Schofield helps run a site dedicated to providing coaches, players and parents with year-round baseball instruction. Visit BigLeagueSkills.com for more information.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Brian_Schofield
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