Friday, May 22, 2009
HISTORY DICTATES THE PITCH
RT STaff Note: This is another great article on hitting from BeABetterHitter.com.
HISTORY DICTATES THE PITCH
by Buz Brundage
Hitting is Timing. Pitching is upsetting Timing. The core of the game revolves around the hitter and the pitcher. It has, for over a century, been the most compelling aspect of the game of baseball. As a player you should recognize that this “history” essentially dictates the flow of the game between the pitcher and the hitter.
When you are capable of evolving mentally to the point where you recognize this, you place yourself in a position to capitalize on your knowledge of the game. Whether you are a pitcher or a hitter, history dictates the pitch!
As a hitter this is an incredible enlightenment. If hitting is timing (and it is), and history dictates the pitch… you should be able to take advantage of your athletic ability and perform at above average percentiles. What does this mean? It means you should be taking advantage of the percentages inherent in the game. Your “numbers” should be better than those from a player who has not recognized that the “game” of baseball revolves around numbers. The numbers are repeated, and have been repeated… and will be repeated over and over and over. If you pay attention to this history of repetition, your “numbers” should stand out.
Let me explain. What is a Fastball count? Well, history indicates that on a percentage basis… most pitchers will throw a fastball when they are behind in the count. The key portion of that statement is “on a percentage basis”.
Well, how is a hitter judged? By his percentage of success!
If you pay attention to the numbers, they can work for you. Your numbers will improve as a result. Ever hear the saying; “man, that guy really knows the game”? You want people to say that about you. So, you have to understand the “history of the game”.
Aaaah, but… so sorry… it’s not really that easy. Knowing the “history of the game” is not just referring to the overall history of baseball. It is taking the overall history, using it to your advantage in the “present”… and then… making adjustments in the present game as a result of the history of the “present game”. Get that?
For instance, your first at-bat in the “present game” had this scenario:
One out and a runner on third base, in a scoreless game; historically, what would your job be? Hit a ball hard to the big part of the field and you can score the runner. Or, hit a fly ball deep enough to the outfield and you can score the runner. Guess who else knows this? Ya, the pitcher… the catcher… every coach on the other side of the field, etc. What does the pitcher try to do? Get you to chase something you will hit weakly to an infielder, pop up… or even better, strike you out (So, something low and likely away in the strike zone).
The Scenario continues; you are facing a fastball pitcher. You also happen to know that he has pretty good command of a slider. Two pitches to worry about. You know this because you are aware of the “history of the present game”. On the 0-0 pitch the pitcher attempts to put that fastball low on the outside corner and misses. You knew that you would likely get a fastball on the outer two thirds (overall history of the game dictates a higher percentage of fastballs on 0-0)… (Present history dictates something away from you that you can’t pull for a sac fly)… you saw that pitch from the point of release and knew it was out of the strike zone. Aha… 1 ball 0 strikes!
Can you tell me what you will get next? Overall History of the game says what? Yup… fastball, and… sure enough, something down and away to try to keep you from doing your job. The pitcher’s job is to execute the pitch. So, what are you looking for? You got it… fastball. Now, are you starting to see the pattern here? History dictates the pitch. If you know the pitch… you can be in time. Hitting is Timing!
Continue with the scenario; sure enough you get that pitch on the outside part of the plate… it is a fastball… but… uh oh, shame on the pitcher… couldn’t quite hit his spot… left it up in the zone and you roped it to right center for an RBI single.
Fast forward… your next at bat you again play the “history of the game” both past and present to assist you in picking the pitch… you are right again and bang another solid hit; 2 for 2 using good old fashion history and athletic ability. Pretty cool, huh?
Third at bat; your team is down by a run in the 7th inning, runners at the corners with two outs, same pitcher. Remember the history. Not just the overall history (which you have used to your advantage), but the present history. The pitcher, catcher and the coaches all know that you have been successful using the numbers of the game to your advantage. They have two choices… continue to play “by the numbers” and give you the pitch you should get based on the count (which over the “history of the game” proves to work in the pitchers favor)… or see if you can hit something you ‘aren’t supposed to get’.
Dig a little deeper into this and you will see that “statistically” you are more likely to receive a fastball on 2-0 or an off-speed on a 0-2 count. Why do you think those are not “always going to get” pitches? Because, on occasion the other team has to do something different based on the “present history” of the game! Whether, it is a guy like you pounding out 2 hits, or because the batter is so bad they can throw him anything and get him out. These are the “percentiles” that make up the “most likely going to get” pitch scenarios. Do you follow that? Overall history proves that if they simply stick to their guns and throw what they should throw when they should throw it “statistically” the pitcher will win. The difficulty of hitting plus the gloves in the field guarantee it!
So, back to your third at-bat; the pitcher starts you off with a nice curve ball. It drops in beautifully for a strike. As you should have been… you were looking for a fastball on that 0-0 count. The game is on the line and you want your pitch. Now the pitcher has the advantage at 0-1. Historically, you should get something off-speed, right? Should you look for it? Maybe. Is that a pitch you hit well? Have you been watching this pitcher closely enough throughout the game to recognize his off-speed? If not, the answer is … NO. You don’t have two strikes yet. Hit your pitch! What is your pitch: Fastball!
Sure enough… they are thinking of going “against” history because you have proved that you can hit the pitch that “history dictates”… here comes a fastball… BANG! Exactly what you were looking for! Home Run!
Is this an unlikely scenario? Not really. Watch baseball and you will see this scenario repeated time and again. It is the “history of the game”… both overall history and present history. If you are paying attention to the “game” you can play it like this more often than not.
What do you think that will do for your numbers? You got it; it will make you one of the percentage leaders. Isn’t that how we judge good hitters?