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Can Argument Be Made That Hitting Instruction Is No Better/ Worse Than Ever?

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  • Can Argument Be Made That Hitting Instruction Is No Better/ Worse Than Ever?

    Talking mlb. Strikeouts are at an all time high, batting averages are low, home runs are up. As Tom Verducci and others say instruction is much better today than in say the 80's because of better technology and insight. The difference in styles between the eras might be that today is more upswing, more bat in zone behind ball and long bat path, more swings to get ball in air and over the fence. In the 80's it was flat or down swing, shorter swings "at ball", more line drive/ground ball approach and more all fields approach.

    Poster child for the 80's: George Brett batting .390 with some pop. Today's poster child how about Stanton.

    But while the instruction or goals of the instruction are different in eras could it be that it was the right instruction for that era? Today's players are huge compared to ones in the 80's. Their physical training overall starts earlier in life. They have great equipment, especially 2019 baseballs. They all take legal and illegal supplements (for power) which weren't used in the 80's. So now most players are big, the pitchers are throwing harder (pitchers are better) so it's swing hard in case you can hit it. Good strategy.

    In the eighties not everyone in the lineup could hit 20 hr's, there were maybe more turf fields, more of the running game, and guys just didn't fill out there uniforms as well.

    So, as a secondary connection and question if you coach in an amateur league in which the home run is virtually a non-factor should you use an 80's approach or swing for the fences?
    Major Figure

  • #2
    Originally posted by omg View Post

    So, as a secondary connection and question if you coach in an amateur league in which the home run is virtually a non-factor should you use an 80's approach or swing for the fences?
    Teach the kids to swing like Mike Trout or Christian Yelich..easy right?

    Comment


    • #3
      Why do people say the poster childs are Stanton or Dunn? The poster childs are clearly guys like trout, miggy, jd Martinez, altuve or Betts who hit 300 and with power despite facing insane pitching.

      of course strikeouts are higher and on base percentage is lower than 20 years ago but pitchers also throw 3-4 mph harder on average and they throw about 20% more breaking balls which makes it harder too.

      that guys like trout or yelich can bat 320+ under those conditions is amazing.

      also even the average hitter probably did get better. Yes a 300 hitter is better than a 240 hitter but those bottom of the line-up guys didn't hit 300 back then either.

      back then they hit like 260/310/350 with 7 bombs, now they hit 240/300/400 with 20 bombs. Is the former really better considering the level of pitching?
      I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

      Comment


      • #4
        If we are talking MLB... defense today (including the shift) is much better than defense of 30 years ago. And pitching today is amazing, yet offense, in terms of total runs scored, is up. So the modern offensive approach is working. You can argue aesthetics.

        The second question (should amateurs play more small ball) is, I think, the more interesting one, and I have no idea what the answer is.

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        • #5
          I actually think there will be a regression to somewhere between 80's era and today. Too many strikeouts in critical situations. More runs scored today, but still only 1 World Series winner every year.

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          • #6
            Watch old games from the 80s. The 9th batters on most mlb teams today are superior in many, many ways to the 4th-6th best hitters then.

            Eras are different, due to many factors. Improved atheletes, balls that travel futher, etc.

            Comment


            • #7

              So, as a secondary connection and question if you coach in an amateur league in which the home run is virtually a non-factor should you use an 80's approach or swing for the fences?
              Most HS coaches I'm familiar with use the 80's approach. It wins more games IMO. Keep strikeouts to a minimum, put the ball in play, make the defense work.

              Ty Cobb-"Every great batter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by dominik View Post
                Why do people say the poster childs are Stanton or Dunn? The poster childs are clearly guys like trout, miggy, jd Martinez, altuve or Betts who hit 300 and with power despite facing insane pitching.

                of course strikeouts are higher and on base percentage is lower than 20 years ago but pitchers also throw 3-4 mph harder on average and they throw about 20% more breaking balls which makes it harder too.

                that guys like trout or yelich can bat 320+ under those conditions is amazing.

                also even the average hitter probably did get better. Yes a 300 hitter is better than a 240 hitter but those bottom of the line-up guys didn't hit 300 back then either.

                back then they hit like 260/310/350 with 7 bombs, now they hit 240/300/400 with 20 bombs. Is the former really better considering the level of pitching?
                You can pick your poster childs- I just threw Stanton out there, the guys you mention are appropriate. Bottom of the order guys back then, would they have been capable of hitting 20 bombs with today's approach? That is the essential question.
                Major Figure

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by andre8 View Post
                  Watch old games from the 80s. The 9th batters on most mlb teams today are superior in many, many ways to the 4th-6th best hitters then.

                  Eras are different, due to many factors. Improved atheletes, balls that travel futher, etc.
                  I will be all ears- completely buy in- when I see NL pitchers dramatically improve their batting and bunt less often.
                  Major Figure

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I thought that Judge was the poster child! IMO, instruction is much the same. The terms are different. The use of technology is different. However, and as Paul Nyman used to constantly say, "you are only capable of seeing what you are capable of seeing." IOWs, people take these various philosophies and try to teach them but most often fall back on what they know. They make those philosophies fit their agenda. Lets keep in mind, and this is my opinion, the fall back in all hitting instruction is The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams. The "soup de jour" changes but the actual recipe is most often the same.

                    Where is that soapbox when I need it? The battle today is to control the language. Then again, it was the same back in the hitting wars. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
                    Granny said Sonny stick to your guns if you believe in something no matter what. Because it's better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you're not.

                    I am an ex expert. I've done this long enough to know that those who think that they know it all, know nothing.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think it's impossible to separate the quality of instruction from the great improvements in fielding and the prevalence of the shift. The instruction fits the circumstances. In MLB, unlike youth ball, if you put the ball in play on the ground someone is likely to catch it. So the instruction tries to get you to jack it over the wall. Are the hitters "better" now? They're better athletes, but I don't know. The current game is not as fun to watch as the game years ago, but that's a different topic.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cannonball View Post
                        I thought that Judge was the poster child! IMO, instruction is much the same. The terms are different. The use of technology is different. However, and as Paul Nyman used to constantly say, "you are only capable of seeing what you are capable of seeing." IOWs, people take these various philosophies and try to teach them but most often fall back on what they know. They make those philosophies fit their agenda. Lets keep in mind, and this is my opinion, the fall back in all hitting instruction is The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams. The "soup de jour" changes but the actual recipe is most often the same.

                        Where is that soapbox when I need it? The battle today is to control the language. Then again, it was the same back in the hitting wars. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
                        This. The only thing that's changed is more people agree with Ted Williams today than in the past because they can prove that the approach works with actual data and hard science. hitting balls over the infielders heads always has and always will work. What most people fail to realize is that players and teams understand what the optimum angle of launch for particular players is. It's higher for Judge than for some others because he hits the ball further. But a negative angle (ground balls) is a terrible approach in every environment of baseball other than one where the infielders will make errors 50% of the time, which may be the case in 7u baseball, but that's about it.

                        Go watch games from the 80's and you'll be amazed at how unathletic and terrible so many players are. How awful their swings are and how they would have zero chance of playing today. I'm not talking about George Brett, but the random randoms.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Sabermetrics have changed the game, and thus the hitting/swing philosophies of today (think "launch angle") vs "back then" (whenever that maybe)...but as CB states, I don't think the instruction has changed all that much, just the names to protect the innocent.

                          If you go back several years, you'll find some discussions 'scorekeeper' and myself had wrt strike outs that kind of talk about this....I was, and still am adamantly against them for hitters, while he was trying to prove/say that they are really no different than any other out in the game...and sometimes even better than another kind of out (grounding into a DP out(s) for instance).

                          So while I don't want to derail your overall thread by turning it into another 'mud' and 'SK' differences of opinion discussion that could fill a novel...I do believe that the old MikeScioscia, "Get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in" game philosophy era that we saw back 20-30 years ago or so...has recycled itself back around to the older Earl Weaver philosophy that, "Pitching keeps you in the games. Home runs win the game” some 40-50 years ago now already.

                          JMHO on it, but it's fun to see that while things changes...they always pretty much stay the same. Good topic omg, thanks for thinking of it.
                          In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Btw it is not true that K rate doesn't matter. A K is not worse than a groundout but it is still an out and it is not correct to assume if he didn't strike out it would have been a groundout, a K could have become the entire spectrum of batted balls. This means the high K hitter needs to create the same production with less batted ball events and thus has higher pressure on power and babip.

                            however there is no positive correlation of low K rate and good hitting but this is because there is a selection bias: high K and low power guys get weeded out in A ball so on average the low K guys have less power (and in tune often less walks because pitchers will just throw them fastballs down the pipe as they can't hurt you meaning less walks).

                            given the same power however the low K guy absolutely is better, almost all low K guys with power are absolute elite and way better than high K guys with the same pop. Most absolute elite hitters in mlb tend to be lowish to average K rate (because super low guys rarely don't have elite pop so most elite hitters are like 15-20% ks).

                            I wrote an article in the fangraphs community section that lowering K rate while maintaining power is the next big thing in hitting player development because improving launch angle and increasing batspeed and power in pro ball is very close to being maxed out so lowering Ks (and improving plate discipline) while keeping the power is the next thing hitters can do.

                            https://community.fangraphs.com/are-...​​​​

                            here are the 2019 war leaders with K rate

                            trout 20%
                            Yelich 20.2
                            bregman 12.3
                            bellinger 16.1
                            rendon 13.3
                            marte 14
                            bogearts 18.2
                            Betts 14.8
                            semien 13.6
                            Chapman 21.5

                            sure they are not single digit K guys but none of them is Adam Dunn and all of them are below the 22.8% league average. Sure compared to ted Williams those are high Ks but just 3 qualified guys were under 10% this season and a 15% K rate is elite in these days - those top10 players average 16.4% so they are actually elite contact hitters in this game.

                            there are also a few elite hitters with an around 25% K rate (Cruz, acuna, alonso) but those guys have off the charts power and are not the norm.
                            Last edited by dominik; 09-10-2019, 10:17 AM.
                            I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by omg View Post

                              You can pick your poster childs- I just threw Stanton out there, the guys you mention are appropriate. Bottom of the order guys back then, would they have been capable of hitting 20 bombs with today's approach? That is the essential question.
                              If they had changed their approach/swing and hit the weight room so they weighed 195 instead of 170 they probably could have hit 20. But the average middle infielder probably weighed like 165-170 back then, now it is about 190. It's both strength and swing (especially attack angle)
                              I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

                              Comment

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