Personal Hitting Philosophy & Where you fit in the Baseball Lineup

Accurately evaluating yourself to know what kind of hitter you are can be a difficult, but necessary, part of developing your personal hitting philosophy.  The great thing about a baseball lineup is there is room on every team and in the big leagues for all types of hitters.

Understand Your Personal Hitting Philosophy

A good hitting philosophy should definitely depend on what kind of hitter you are.  Are you a player that hits for a lot of power, do you try to set the table and get on base for the middle of the lineup, can you run, are you a good situational hitter, can you hit to all parts of the field or do you mostly just pull the ball.

personal hitting philosophy and the baseball lineup. Image by Frank Lauri

Image by Frank Lauri

Accurately evaluating yourself and knowing what kind of hitter you are can be difficult. The great thing about baseball is there is room on every team and in the big leagues for all types of hitters.

Players get in trouble when they want to be something they are not. This is fairly common and a problem most young hitters face. Everyone wants to hit homeruns. But not everyone was talented in that area. If you hit one homerun a year and most of your outs are fly balls, you are only hurting yourself.

The good hitters use what they are given and use it to the best of their ability. If you can run, hit balls on the ground and utilize the bunt. If you can handle the bat, try to hit the 3-4 hole (in between 1st and 2nd base) with a runner on 1st base, to get the runner to move up to 3rd base.  Some hitters are trying to get on base any way possible, while others are in scoring position when they step up to the plate.  Understand your game, and embrace it.

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Minnesota Twins outfielder Chris Collabello

Pro Hitting Tip from Minnesota Twins outfielder Chris Collabello

“It is important to have a plan as a hitter.  Hitters and pitchers are always playing cat and mouse with each other.  You should understand how pitchers are going to attack, and still stick to your strengths (i.e. Getting good pitches to hit; understanding what you want to do as a hitter).

Also,  great hitters don’t take at-bats off, regardless of score and situations in the game.  Hold yourself accountable to be mentally present during EVERY at-bat.”

What Makes Up A Typical Baseball Lineup

The leadoff hitter

The typical leadoff hitter can usually run.  He has a high on base percentage, good average and takes his walks.  The leadoff hitter can handle the bat by bunting, good hit and run guy and doesn’t strike out a lot.  He can create havoc on the bases when necessary.

The 2, 8, and 9 hitters

These guys are table setters, they can handle the bat. You need to be able to bunt, situationaly hit ( hit and run, hit a ball to the right side with a runner on second and 0 outs, sacrifice fly with runner on third.) These players should be gritty and battle.

  • Just because you hit eighth or ninth doesn’t mean you are not an important hitter. At some point all hitters, no matter where in the baseball lineup they are, will be up in a big situation.
  • If you are hitting in the spot before the pitcher (usually 8th) that can be a tough assignment. You will usually be pitched very carefully.  The pitcher hopes you will expand the zone and swing at bad pitches. With runners on base don’t be surprised to get off speed pitches in fastball counts and fastballs that are meant for the corners of the plate.  They know if you walk they have a weak hitter behind you, but they are hoping to get you to chase and get yourself out.
The number 3 hitter

The number 3 hitter is usually your best in the lineup.  He most times will have a unique blend of batting average and power. He hits in this spot to drive in runners, and he is guaranteed to hit in the first inning. He can put runs on the board.

The 4 and 5 guys

are usually power guys that may strike out more than the others in the lineup but have long ball potential. Every time they step in the box they strike fear into their opponents.

The 6 and 7 guys

are very good hitters usually high average with a little less power than the 3,4,5 guys. They are very important to protect the power spots in the baseball lineup by hitting well and driving in runners. The 6 and 7 spots in the lineup can have big RBI potential.  A team that has strong 6 and 7 hole hitters makes the baseball lineup so much deeper and a lot more difficult to pitch to.

This is a very basic template of a typical baseball lineup, this can change depending on the teams personnel in the lineup.  Possible changes might include:

  • Your leadoff hitter may have the most power but he hits there because he doesn’t strike out very often and the coach wants him to get as many at bats as possible.
  • Your number 3 hitter may have no power at all but he hits for a high average and has been pretty successful with driving runners in.  He is not your prototypical 3 hole hitter, but can be very productive in the 3rd slot.
I hope this overview of the baseball lineup can help you determine your own personal hitting philosophy and where you fit in the lineup.

More Baseball Hitting Instruction:

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger's AAA team the Round Rock Express. You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier

7 Comments

  1. I am 5ft 9 and of average build. I usually hit opposite field line drives. if the ball is in the strike zone i hardly ever miss. What type of hitter am i ?

  2. I am shortstop and second baseman(sometimes third) and I usually hit leadoff. I was having a pretty rough season in the batters box and I was moved to the bottom of the lineup for a lot of the season. I got cut from my team due to the fact of my batting. I am working to get back on the team and I am asking for a few things I can do to work on my batting. Thanks in advance.

    • Josh,
      I am happy to hear that you are still working hard. Don’t give up, there are many people that got cut from a team and kept improving and ended up playing a long time. Without knowing too much about your swing I would work off a tee a lot and make sure you get many quality swings. I would then find some sort of pitching machine at a batting cage and try to work on your swing and everything you have been working on off the tee. It will take some time but hopefully the good habits from the tee will transfer over to seeing some velocity off a machine before too long. Good luck and keep working hard.

      Doug

    • Robert Whitaker on

      Just relax, it sound like your to agresseve at the plate. Slow down and keep a level swing and keep your eyes on the ball. remember the pitcher has to throw strikes over the plate to get you out make him throw you strikes and don’t swing at pitches out of the zone I know this sounds very basic but remember your goal is to get on base,even if its by a walk. If you practice enough the hits will come.

  3. I know you are supposed to know what kind of hitter you are but im a first baseman but I cant hit a HR. I hit .442 during the season but as a first baseman shoudnt I be able to hit a HR? All the first baseman in the big leagues do and I feel as a first baseman having the ability to hit for power is a necessity to play at that position in the MLB.

    • Sure hitting homeruns would be nice, but baseball isn’t all about the longball. You have defense, speed, baserunning awareness, and situational plays you need to worry about before you worry about jacking one over the fences. My advice: Don’t worry about the homers. Would you rather have a guy who hits over 20 homers a year and bats .196 (ala Chris Davis or would you rather have a guy who gets a hit basically half the time? You will be more successful driving the ball with hard groundballs and line-drives. You have plenty other stuff to worry about, like scooping balls from your shortstop (who conveniently gets all the credit for flashing the leather). Homeruns will come later. Trust yourself.

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