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“What should I be thinking when I walk up to the plate?”
A lot of hitters are being told from a young age to look to hit the fastball and adjust to anything off-speed. This is a great approach…if you are trying to do a job such as move a runner over into scoring position. The reality of it is that this approach is unsustainable. When pitchers start throwing harder and the MPH differential between their fastball and their off-speed becomes greater, then this approach simply does not work. If a pitcher is throwing 95mph with an 80mph changeup, trying to “adjust” to hit that 15mph differential simply does not happen.
A hitter is looking to be dangerous. A dangerous hitter is a hitter that is a threat to hit doubles and homers. A hitter that can not drive the baseball to the fence is not dangerous. “Look fastball adjust off speed approach” correlates to hitting ground balls and singles. A pitcher can tell when a hitter is dangerous or not. A batter wants the pitcher to be afraid that he may put the ball over the fence if a mistake pitch is made. With how advanced the game is today, if you want to be a singles hitter then you better be able to steal a lot of bags. This begs the question, how do you become dangerous at the plate? The answer does not come from spending countless hours in the gym or fine tuning your swing to become perfect. The answer is timing and your approach at the plate.
Here is an approach that can aid a hitter to become that dangerous hitter he wants to be:
1. Determine which off-speed pitch the pitcher throws.
Coach's scouting report. Watch warmups, watch previous hitters before you in the lineup, or just don’t look to hit anything off-speed at all.
2. Make your decision.
Before you even step in the box decide whether you are going to hit a fastball or an off-speed pitch.
3. Sit on it.
Look to hit that certain pitch the ENTIRE at bat. For example, if you decide you are going to hit the fastball, look for a pitch in the zone and treat it like it is a fastball. This means that if the pitch is a fastball you will be right on time and if it is something off-speed you will swing and miss.
-A lot of hitters get caught up in viewing swinging and missing as a bad thing. When in reality a lot of hitters waste their at bats. An example of a hitter wasting his at bat is working a 2-0 count and expecting a fastball only to be surprised when a pitcher throws an off-speed pitch and he lunges forward hitting a ground ball to the shortstop. When if he had the approach to hit the fastball the entire at bat then he would have missed the ball completely and the count would have went to 2-1.
The same goes for off-speed. If a hitter pays attention to how a pitcher is pitching his team mates and he notices that the pitcher throws at least two changeups to every batter, then sit on that changeup and when he does in fact throw it you will be ready.