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Pitch to contact: many say it; but few actually sell it to their pitchers

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  • Pitch to contact: many say it; but few actually sell it to their pitchers

    The following comments are addressed to HS-level baseball (for those who coach 10u, God bless you, it's a blast, but HS-level vs. 10u are very different games with very different skill levels).

    My definition of pitch to contact is trying to get weak contact as early as possible in the count.
    As a head coach, I've been blessed with a number of good pitching coaches/pitch-callers; several with high-end resumes. Most "talk" pitch to contact. But none of them "walk" it with any consistency. So they don't actually "sell" pitch to contact to their pitchers.

    Why?

    1. Because walk speaks louder than talk. The talk: pitch to contact. The walk: The pitch-calling coach is obviously and consistently trying to avoid contact. (we could argue here about the definition of "consistently")

    2. Because one instance of negative talk-- "that pitch was too good for 1-2"-- cancels out ten instances of positive talk--"we're going to pitch to contact".

    3. Coaches talk pitch to contact. But they "walk" fear of contact. Pitchers intuitively dislike contact, and happily realize that pitch-to-contact is "talk" only. When I call the pitches, on the other hand, my mission is trying to get weak early contact, and I seldom vary from it (except if the game situation warrants it).

    The most likely hi-jack of this thread (conceding that I'm a serial hijacker myself) is:
    Let Your Catchers Call the Pitches!
    (my response: then you will REALLY see the opposite of pitch to contact)
    Last edited by skipper5; 09-17-2012, 09:45 AM.
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  • #2
    Seems that many unnecessary walks happen after an 0-2 or 1-2 count. Then, the coach starts nibbling, then the pitcher can't find the zone afterwards.
    efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

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    • #3
      Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
      …My definition of pitch to contact is trying to get weak contact as early as possible in the count.
      That’s interesting but idyllic, and don’t think possible on a consistent basis. I think it’s a fantastic goal, but the reality is, most contact isn’t solid, so why bother worrying whether a ball was hit dead on the nose with a hard swing, or off the end of the bat after having been fooled?

      I think what’s more important than making contact solid or not, is suckering the hitters into swinging in the fewest pitches possible. What that requires is either throwing strikes or getting to hitters to THINK a pitch will be a strike.

      There are million ways to represent contact, but here’s one I’ve produced for a long time now. When its broken down into the individual pitchers it tells a lot. contact.pdf

      As a head coach, I've been blessed with a number of good pitching coaches/pitch-callers; several with high-end resumes. Most "talk" pitch to contact. But none of them "walk" it with any consistency. So they don't actually "sell" pitch to contact to their pitchers.

      Why?

      1. Because walk speaks louder than talk. The talk: pitch to contact. The walk: The pitch-calling coach is obviously and consistently trying to avoid contact. (we could argue here about the definition of "consistently")

      2. Because one instance of negative talk-- "that pitch was too good for 1-2"-- cancels out ten instances of positive talk--"we're going to pitch to contact".

      3. Coaches talk pitch to contact. But they "walk" fear of contact. Pitchers intuitively dislike contact, and happily realize that pitch-to-contact is "talk" only. When I call the pitches, on the other hand, my mission is trying to get weak early contact, and I seldom vary from it (except if the game situation warrants it).

      The most likely hi-jack of this thread (conceding that I'm a serial hijacker myself) is:
      Let Your Catchers Call the Pitches!
      (my response: then you will REALLY see the opposite of pitch to contact)
      I think you’re correct, that in general contact is the last thing pitchers and pitch callers want, but I think that has a lot to do with experience.

      If the thread is hijacked by those saying to let the catcher call the pitches, I’d likely stand with them. Not because I don’t think you’re correct, but rather that I don’t think HS pitchers have the kind of execution command and control that can put well thrown pitches in perfect spots to cause weal contact early in the at bat. That’s why I’d rather the pitchers and catchers had the responsibility of calling pitches. At least they’d have the benefit of confidence.
      The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

      Comment


      • #4
        the reality is, most contact isn’t solid, so why bother worrying whether a ball was hit dead on the nose with a hard swing, or off the end of the bat after having been fooled?


        Interesting. All these years I've been "worrying" about trying to get to get weak early contact....and it turns out it simply doesn't matter very much.
        As a coach, I'm heavily into fatalistic acceptance, but......
        [apologies if I just hijacked my own thread]

        All I can tell you, SK, is that if you sat on a bucket adjacent to me when I happen to be the one calling the pitches, you might see some logic and validity in what I'm doing with regards to trying to get (weak) early contact. At the very least, you would notice that I'm consistent with my message. I walk it. You wouldn't see me grimace when an 0-2 changeup caught too much of the zone and got hit hard.
        Last edited by skipper5; 09-17-2012, 10:50 AM.
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        • #5
          I think you’re correct, that....[in general] contact is the last thing pitchers and pitch callers want,

          SK,
          Thank you. I'm a happy guy if ultimately that's the only agreed-upon takeaway from this thread.
          Last edited by skipper5; 09-17-2012, 10:44 AM.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
            The following comments are addressed to HS-level baseball (for those who coach 10u, God bless you, it's a blast, but HS-level vs. 10u are very different games with very different skill levels).

            My definition of pitch to contact is trying to get weak contact as early as possible in the count.
            As a head coach, I've been blessed with a number of good pitching coaches/pitch-callers; several with high-end resumes. Most "talk" pitch to contact. But none of them "walk" it with any consistency. So they don't actually "sell" pitch to contact to their pitchers.

            Why?

            1. Because walk speaks louder than talk. The talk: pitch to contact. The walk: The pitch-calling coach is obviously and consistently trying to avoid contact. (we could argue here about the definition of "consistently")

            2. Because one instance of negative talk-- "that pitch was too good for 1-2"-- cancels out ten instances of positive talk--"we're going to pitch to contact".

            3. Coaches talk pitch to contact. But they "walk" fear of contact. Pitchers intuitively dislike contact, and happily realize that pitch-to-contact is "talk" only. When I call the pitches, on the other hand, my mission is trying to get weak early contact, and I seldom vary from it (except if the game situation warrants it).

            The most likely hi-jack of this thread (conceding that I'm a serial hijacker myself) is:
            Let Your Catchers Call the Pitches!
            (my response: then you will REALLY see the opposite of pitch to contact)
            There is a lot of merit above:

            1. Yes, coach-pitch callers are way too fine and it runs up the pitch count. It's not the big leagues where you have 10 pitchers on the staff, 10 in AAA, and can sign guys.

            2. Coach-pitch callers get angry, say, when they call a low/outside slider and the pitcher doesn't hit the spot and the guy jacks. But really, how many hs guys can hit spots? A guy hits a hr-they earned it. And it's not the hr, it's those walks in front of it.

            3. I can't tell you how many 0-2 pitches are way outside the strike zone from opposing pitchers I see. Of course the pitcher is afraid of getting yelled at ("that was an 0-2 pitch he doubled on"). And then, as Song said, how many times do you see a guy go from 0-2 to 3-2? All of the time. It's ridiculous. 0-2, throw the ball over the plate. Greg Maddux said as much.

            4. Is a fastball on the knees down the middle a good pitch on a 2-0 count? Of course it is. Is it a good pitch on a 0-2 count. Damn right. Hell, the batter probably won't expect it. But no, with 0-2 gotta get that strikeout. Bad thinking.

            5. HS guys can't nibble and set up like big leaguers. It runs up the pitch count, ruins their arms, and they don't have the reinforcements. The announcers always show the replay on "how that pitcher left that one over the middle" on that double but they don't show the replays of the 10 outs he got on that pitch.

            6. It doesn't really matter what pitch is called just as long as there is a good general mix. The batter just needs to be thinking the pitcher might throw a fastball, he might not. That's it. Don't have to get clever when the stud comes up. Babe Ruth is dead.

            7. It's the concentration and focus. How many times do you see a guy get to 3-0 and then throw a strike. All of the time. How many times do you see a guy get the first 2 batters out quickly and then start walking guys? All of the time. Gotta change that mentality.
            Major Figure

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            • #7
              I believe in the next pitch being outside the strike zone at 0-2 and 1-2. But after that go after the hitter. This does not mean come down the pipe. That's batting practice in high school unless a pitcher is 87+. In travel it's bp until about 92.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by tg643 View Post
                In travel it's bp until about 92.
                Put down the bong.
                efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tg643 View Post
                  I believe in the next pitch being outside the strike zone at 0-2 and 1-2. But after that go after the hitter. This
                  does not mean come down the pipe. That's batting practice in high school unless a pitcher is 87+. In travel it's bp until about 92.
                  Remember all 89's aren't created equally...gotta account for deception. Countless pitchers have success at under 90 in elite 17u Tb..we see three every week multiple times working out..they all give teams fits. I don't think you can call any 91 mph fastball "bp" in 17 Tb under any circumstances..Imho.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by omg View Post
                    There is a lot of merit above:

                    1. Yes, coach-pitch callers are way too fine and it runs up the pitch count. It's not the big leagues where you have 10 pitchers on the staff, 10 in AAA, and can sign guys.

                    2. Coach-pitch callers get angry, say, when they call a low/outside slider and the pitcher doesn't hit the spot and the guy jacks. But really, how many hs guys can hit spots? A guy hits a hr-they earned it. And it's not the hr, it's those walks in front of it.

                    3. I can't tell you how many 0-2 pitches are way outside the strike zone from opposing pitchers I see. Of course the pitcher is afraid of getting yelled at ("that was an 0-2 pitch he doubled on"). And then, as Song said, how many times do you see a guy go from 0-2 to 3-2? All of the time. It's ridiculous. 0-2, throw the ball over the plate. Greg Maddux said as much.

                    4. Is a fastball on the knees down the middle a good pitch on a 2-0 count? Of course it is. Is it a good pitch on a 0-2 count. Damn right. Hell, the batter probably won't expect it. But no, with 0-2 gotta get that strikeout. Bad thinking.

                    5. HS guys can't nibble and set up like big leaguers. It runs up the pitch count, ruins their arms, and they don't have the reinforcements. The announcers always show the replay on "how that pitcher left that one over the middle" on that double but they don't show the replays of the 10 outs he got on that pitch.

                    6. It doesn't really matter what pitch is called just as long as there is a good general mix. The batter just needs to be thinking the pitcher might throw a fastball, he might not. That's it. Don't have to get clever when the stud comes up. Babe Ruth is dead.

                    7. It's the concentration and focus. How many times do you see a guy get to 3-0 and then throw a strike. All of the time. How many times do you see a guy get the first 2 batters out quickly and then start walking guys? All of the time. Gotta change that mentality.
                    Low fastball outside is great for stike one.. but after that how about "hard inside..slow outside?" As a general rule?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by raptor View Post
                      Low fastball outside is great for stike one.. but after that how about "hard inside..slow outside?" As a general rule?
                      I guess it depends on the talent you have. I'd rather think about halves of the plate rather than corners. Corners can be thought of 0-2. You ask a pitcher to throw low/outside you're asking him to hit two points: the lowest one and the most outside one. What's the matter with middle low? In your bullpens, ask your pitcher to hit a middle low spot and see how good he is at that before moving on to more advanced stuff.
                      Major Figure

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                      • #12
                        I consider pitching to contact as a "per pitcher" thing. As in some kids are saavy enough to understand and produce late movement and will vary speed and location that uses the hitter weak spots to produce "weak contact". I wouldn't necessarily use a kid who just lets it fly to be real fine (Not nibble but locate aggressively..i.e. claim an unhittable strike location) and if a kid has a plus wipe-out pitch but say...telegraphs location or his other pitches aren't great (Get me over hook..etc.) I'm not certain I could play to my strategy over their apparent strengths/weaknesses. My preference is a guy who can control a game in Maddux-esque fashion but getting that sort of production has to be way hard...how has your teams fared W/L wise? Do you emphasize pip's and other defensive strategies to exploit your pitching sequence approach and how well as a rule has it been understood (As in players adjusting to location per pitch)? How do you coach/train your pitchers to the idea and what things do you do to facillitate them getting better at it? I've found that when you are able to integrate a whole team strategy it energizes the squad and "things" get to happening.
                        I think that as an over-all strategy, I like the theory, I guess I don't have the years of experience on the high school field to give me total confidence it's where I need to be in every instance...that I can win consistently without a pitcher or pitchers who have that approach and skill as a pitcher.
                        Last edited by jdfromfla; 09-18-2012, 05:36 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by songtitle View Post
                          Put down the bong.
                          Put down the attitude and get informed. If a pitcher throws 90 down the pipe on D1 college prospects he'll get hammered. I've seen it many times in showcases. You need to get out more often. 90 is normal for D1 ball.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by raptor View Post
                            Remember all 89's aren't created equally...gotta account for deception. Countless pitchers have success at under 90 in elite 17u Tb..we see three every week multiple times working out..they all give teams fits. I don't think you can call any 91 mph fastball "bp" in 17 Tb under any circumstances..Imho.
                            You you read my post I stated a pitcher can't throw 90 down the pipe at that level. There's no deception bringing down the middle.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by omg View Post

                              …And then, as Song said, how many times do you see a guy go from 0-2 to 3-2? All of the time. It's ridiculous. 0-2, throw the ball over the plate. Greg Maddux said as much.
                              Well, I don‘t know if “All the time” is an accurate portrayal, but if you look below I think you can see that it sure ain’t rare.

                              temp.pdf

                              I have 11,008 records and 143 started with 2 strikes and eventually got to 3-2. That may seem rare, but you have to look at it in perspective. Of those 11,008 records, 805 started with an 0-2 count. That means about 18% of all at bats that started 0-2 eventually got to 3-2. Also, 47(6%) of them walked, and to me that’s pretty scary!
                              The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

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