Before you ask, “why is a hitter writing about advanced pitching strategy,” let me just go ahead and tell you why.
Advanced Pitching Strategy… What hitters really hate
Some of the most insightful conversations I have had about hitting were talking to pitchers, and I’ve heard pitchers say they’ve learned a lot when talking to hitters.
This makes perfect sense if you think about it. If I constantly talk to hitters, I could learn something about mechanics or approach. But pitchers make a living out of trying to get hitters out.
If I can learn what pitchers are looking for, understand certain pitch sequences, or how they expose certain flaws, it may make me an all-around better hitter (I’m obviously writing this post from a hitters perspective).
And the reverse is true. Pitchers can learn from hitters what really ruins our day.
How a good fastball can be deadly
Following his third spring training start, David Price said,
“It’s part of the process, continuing to go out there, command my fastball the way that I did today. If I can do that, it just opens up everything that I want to do with all my secondary stuff.
That’s always a big emphasis on me, just making sure I’m hitting spots with that fastball—two-seam, four-seam, both sides of the plate, moving it in, up, down.”
As a pitcher that throws a lot of fastballs, David understands how difficult it is to hit. He understands that fastballs in different locations thrown with a two-seam and four-seam variations can make life difficult for hitters.
The key is location.
Let’s say I am facing a right handed pitcher (I am a right handed hitter) and he is trying to establish his two-seamer (sinker) inside to me.
It is natural to start looking in there as a hitter. If I am not stubborn with a mental approach for that at bat it would be easy for me to swing at pitches off the plate inside, fully aware that if I hit that pitch I will most likely pull the ball foul or hit a ground ball to the pull side of the infield.
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Deception & perception
If you ever really watch batting practice you will see how many times hitters don’t square up the baseball. The hitters know every pitch that is coming and the coach is trying to throw it where they can hit it hard, but still many hitters don’t hit the ball on the barrel of the bat.
Imagine how much harder it gets when they DON’T know what pitch is coming.
- Inside/outside – After two sinkers inside, a 4 seamer on the outside corner tends to look further outside than normal… even though it is a strike.
- Speed – The speed differs by 2-3 mph but that is just enough for my contact to be off the barrel if I am timed up for the two-seamer velocity.
- Up / Down – Moving the ball up and down changes the eye level of the hitter and can produce swing and misses especially with two strikes.
A well located fastball is the most difficult pitch to hit consistently. The hitter has less time to react, and the further the ball is away from the middle of the plate the more difficult for the hitter (Click to read more about effective velocity if you aren’t sure what I mean).
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Learning from David Price
I love watching the Little League World Series when it’s on television but I feel like the pitchers are throwing more and more off speed pitches every year. I wish and I hope that some of the pitchers and coaches take a page out of David Price’s book and throw more fastballs.
Once I have to compete against fastballs located for strikes on both sides of the plate and changing eye levels, the secondary stuff becomes much nastier to hit.
As a hitter, when a pitcher establishes the location of his fastball and is not afraid to come after hitters, it makes hitting much more difficult.
Now I have a question for you. What are your struggles related to learning or teaching pitching? Or baseball in general? We’ll be interviewing more pros this off season, so be sure to comment below with your questions!
Cheers, and play hard!