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Friday, April 1, 2011
How Pitch Count Affects A Hitter's Strategy
How Pitch Count Affects A Hitter's Strategy
By Jim Bain
A hitter must have a firm grasp of the situation he's walking into as he approaches the plate and should have a distinct plan of what and how he's going to hit in order to benefit the team the most.
Let's delve into some of the more common strategies which affect pitch count on a hitter and what should be going through his head.
Baseball Pitch Count-Hitter - Situation: 1st inning - lead off hitter - no outs- no base runners:
The first duty of a lead off hitter is to get on base. Doesn't matter by what means he accomplishes this, base hit, walk, hit by the pitch, just as long as he reaches base safely.
0-0 Count. There are two trains of thought in this situation. The first is to always take the first pitch. Force the pitcher to throw a strike. It's the beginning of the game and at this particular time nobody, including the pitcher, knows exactly how his control will be on that day. Should his 1st pitch be a ball, the hitter has an automatic advantage because the next pitch must be a strike or else the pitcher is quickly putting himself into a huge disadvantage.
Along those lines, the second philosophy on this count and situation is, swing at the first pitch. The assumption is the pitcher will probably throw a fastball for a strike in order to quickly get ahead in the count.
It's doubtful, especially in the younger ages, the pitcher would throw a breaking ball because it's harder to throw for a strike. Therefore, the best chance for a hitter to see a fastball strike, will be the first pitch of the game.
1-0 The batter has a little breathing room because the odds are 50/50 he has a chance of being walked as he does being struck out. This may allow the hitter a little bit more flexibility in swinging at a pitch he may not quite like.
2-0 The batter has a distinct advantage over the pitcher. The pitcher must throw a strike or all but nearly concede a possible walk to the lead off hitter, something he does not want to do. The hitter at this point can look for a specific pitch in a specific area and if the pitch isn't there, don't swing.
3-0 Unless you are an Albert Pujos or other great MLB player, it is a cardinal sin to swing at a 3-0 pitch. Remember, you are wanting to reach base and the pitcher must throw 3 strikes in a row before throwing a ball to keep you from walking if you don't swing at another pitch.
0-1 Count. As a lead off hitter you should be fearless and comfortable with hitting with any count, so hitting with 1 strike should not bother you. In fact, in reality you have accomplished the first step of your job.
You want to see as many pitches from the pitcher as possible. This is not only for you to become accustomed to his pitching motion, types of pitches he throws or any other thing you can pick up for an advantage, but your team mates are also learning the pitcher as they watch you work him.
0-2 At this point you must shift gears from an offensive hitter to a defensive hitter. Your entire focus goes to making contact, putting the bat on the ball, and not allowing the pitcher to strike you out.
You can not count on an umpire calling a close pitch, although a ball, a ball. He very well may subconsciously favor the pitcher on a close pitch as he has thrown nothing but strikes to that point.
These situations are but a very minute sampling of the 1000s of situations a hitter will encounter over his/her career and is not intended to be all inclusive, that would be nearly impossible.
Hopefully by examining the thought processes behind the strategies will help you start better understanding the complexities of the mental aspect of the game from a hitter's position. You must remember...baseball is Not all physical abilities.
Jim Bain - Former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth. Visit his exciting info packed website: http://www.Learn-Youth-Baseball-Coaching.com
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