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Make Pitchers Great Again? (How do pitchers adjust to the big field?)

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  • Make Pitchers Great Again? (How do pitchers adjust to the big field?)

    Pitchers stats on my son's 13u team this year were the best pitching stats I've ever seen on a rec team. The only season I ever saw WHIPs close to what I saw from the top 3 pitchers was the 9u season, and I figure that was because hitters were facing kid pitch for the first time so all a pitcher had to do was throw strikes and that was enough to get the majority of hitters out.

    After that 9u season, WHIP was typically 1.4 to 2.0 for the top pitchers. This 13u year, the first year on the big field, the WHIPs were in the 1.0 to 1.4 range for the top 3 pitchers.

    I am figuring a lot has to do with the move to USAbat, and the fact that some players were starting to use rec league as a way to practice with BBCOR. However, I am wondering, for those of you who track these kinds of things, if in prior years (when the hotter USSSA BPF 1.15 models were used) there is not much of stats change for pitchers when they pitch their first season on the big field? Maybe some of the improved pitching performance has to do with more time to field the ball, more competent fielding at this age, etc. rather than the switch to USAbat? I can't really know as this was my son's first year pitching on the big field at the 13u/14u level.

    I don't think my son pitched better this season than last despite his best-ever stats - in fact I think he had troubles I haven't seen him have before (his mechanics became less consistent as his body grew/changed, and he had more trouble locating his pitches exactly where he wanted, partly due to less consistent mechanics and perhaps partly due to the greater distance from the mound).

    Thoughts on how pitchers adjust to the big field?

    The title, BTW, comes from the amusing idea I had that we keep talking about how USAbat made hitters worse. The flip side: They made pitchers great again!

  • #2
    First year on big field a lot of kids start getting thrown out at 1st from right field (and once in a blue moon from center field). That makes the pitcher look good if they can throw strikes. Longer bases harder on runner than the thrower.
    Never played baseball, just a dad of someone that loves to play. So take any advice I post with a grain of salt.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by pthawaii View Post
      First year on big field a lot of kids start getting thrown out at 1st from right field (and once in a blue moon from center field). That makes the pitcher look good if they can throw strikes. Longer bases harder on runner than the thrower.
      We didn't see any more of that particular thing in 13u/14u than we did in prior years (happens 3-4x/season). What we did see a lot of is hit to shortstop who fumbles the ball or doesn't charge it like they should. In prior years, runner would be safe. This year, the shortstop could get the runner out anyway (barely).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by pthawaii View Post
        First year on big field a lot of kids start getting thrown out at 1st from right field (and once in a blue moon from center field). That makes the pitcher look good if they can throw strikes. Longer bases harder on runner than the thrower.
        The other thing we saw that was different was that our top 3 outfielders never missed a catchable ball. And our speedy centerfielder caught some that should have been hits. This level of competence in the outfield is not something I had every seen before in rec league. Of course, occasionally one of our less competent outfielders got the ball hit to them - but even they caught all the easy ones and some of the less easy ones.

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        • #5
          The kid's skills are getting noticeably better at this age. That combined with the increased distance bw bases makes for more put outs by the infield.
          Put your junk in your pocket!

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          • #6
            Observations are going to vary based on the level of 13u ball played. My 13u travel team played USSSA Majors. We were one of the top teams. I had made a list of twenty of the best LL all stars from our eighteen team district I thought most likely to play high school ball. I got twelve of them plus one politically correct pick (advice:never do this). Twelve of the original thirteen played high school. Ten played college ball. To give you an idea of the quality of play we mercied a 13u Ripken state champion in pool play and again in elimination play.

            We we were one of the top Majors team in our region. The quality of play we saw in two of three pool games and before quarterfinals of elimination and quarterfinals to the championship were two different types of teams. There were typically about eight good teams in the field of twenty-four to thirty-two.

            We we taught our pitchers to have two speeds, fastball and off speed. Be able to pitch in and out, up and down. Throw strikes. We will make the plays.

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            • #7
              At 13U, the kids usually are pre-puberty it seems. They have trouble hitting the ball out of the infield on the big field. Decent infielders will then throw them out as the kids are very fast yet. I assume this is going from 46/60 to 60/90. In our league, we have 54/80 at that age (and 50/70 the year before), so it is a bit different.

              At 14U, many of the kids are going through puberty, and many just are big. Some are still a little slow do develop (my oldest son didn't get really big until he started high school), but most kids seem to grow between 13U and 14U. With that extra size and strength, they can hit the ball out of the infield more regularly and are much faster to first.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Viking0 View Post
                At 13U, the kids usually are pre-puberty it seems. They have trouble hitting the ball out of the infield on the big field. Decent infielders will then throw them out as the kids are very fast yet. I assume this is going from 46/60 to 60/90. In our league, we have 54/80 at that age (and 50/70 the year before), so it is a bit different.

                At 14U, many of the kids are going through puberty, and many just are big. Some are still a little slow do develop (my oldest son didn't get really big until he started high school), but most kids seem to grow between 13U and 14U. With that extra size and strength, they can hit the ball out of the infield more regularly and are much faster to first.
                We went from 50/70 right up to 60.5/90, so it was even a bigger leap. We saw a surprising amount of hits to the outfield - but usually high enough up that the balls are caught. Our defenders caught 10 balls in the outfield one game but more typically it was 4-8 balls caught per game in the outfield (occasionally by an infielder backing way up).

                And yes - it seems like it took forever for some kids to run to 1st base!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JoeG View Post
                  Pitchers stats on my son's 13u team this year were the best pitching stats I've ever seen on a rec team.

                  I am figuring a lot has to do with the move to USAbat, and the fact that some players were starting to use rec league as a way to practice with BBCOR. !
                  Back when I coached 4 sons in 13u baseball with the hot lightweight bats, we called 13u 'the year of the hitter'.

                  So I'm going to agree and attribute your data to USAbat and BBCOR.

                  Interesting that they still had fun despite swinging dead bats instead of "tubular tennis rackets" a/k/a rocket launchers.
                  Last edited by skipper5; 06-13-2018, 05:32 PM.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by skipper5 View Post

                    Back when I coached 4 sons in 13u baseball with the hot lightweight bats, we called 13u 'the year of the hitter'.

                    So I'm going to agree and attribute your data to USAbat and BBCOR.

                    Interesting that they still had fun despite swinging dead bats instead of "tubular tennis rackets" a/k/a rocket launchers.
                    I don't think "hot" bats had any impact on fun, one way or another. The stats changed, for sure. But I saw kids having fun (or not) for the usual reasons - good (or bad) coach, playing well (or poorly), etc.

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