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

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  • #31
    Duplicate post
    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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    • #32
      Originally posted by raptor View Post
      I'm just responding to this Tg..
      So with 0-2 you want nibble, nibble, then hit a spot on 2-2. Because if you happen to throw a 91 mph fastball over the plate on 1-2 its a bad idea? The trait of fearlessness and challenging hitters with your plus fastball is desirable correct?
      Over the plate and down the pipe/middle are not the same thing. A pitcher should never come down the middle unless forced to do so by count and situation. The hitters at the prospect level are also fearless. They welcome anything down the pipe unless it's an overwhelming speed.

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      • #33
        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+....
        As a pitch caller, the first time we get an opposing batter to 0-2, I'll often sign a fastball right down the pipe. My pitchers know to precede it with a double shake-off. If it freezes the batter for strike 3--which it does a fair amount of the time--it gets the rest of the opposing lineup thinking....
        Last edited by skipper5; 09-19-2012, 12:30 PM.
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        • #34
          Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
          As a pitch caller, the first time we get an opposing batter to 0-2, I'll often sign a fastball right down the pipe, preceded by a double shakeoff by the pitcher. If it freezes the batter for strike 3--which it does a fair amount of the time--it gets the rest of the opposing lineup thinking....
          I think what happens is, people give more credit to hitters and pitchers than their abilities have proven over time. There’s just no reason I can see to be afraid of throwing a well-executed pitch in the strike zone.
          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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          • #35
            Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
            As a pitch caller, the first time we get an opposing batter to 0-2, I'll often sign a fastball right down the pipe. My pitchers know to precede it with a double shake-off. If it freezes the batter for strike 3--which it does a fair amount of the time--it gets the rest of the opposing lineup thinking....
            Similar situation/story.....

            My oldest son was a catcher, and during his senior season they were quite shy on "pitchers". Big, tall, hard throwing RFer was called on midway through the season to see what he could as a reliever for an inning or two. Only problem, he too wasn't a "pitcher", and didn't have a "second pitch" to fall back on.

            During his 1st outing (he was called in pretty much unexpectedly by the HC), after the first hitter, my son went out to talk to him about his "pitch selection" (coach let him call his own game). All he told him to do, was "shake off" the number of fingers he held down.....if he "waggled" his fingers after a number, that meant "shake off that many times, then step off". Once all of the "theatrics" were over, he would just come back and throw the FB, as that's all he had.

            This little "show", played for the remainder of the season, and the kid became a pretty effective "closer". So much so, that he was recruited by a local JC as a pitcher and not as a position player. He went on to earn all-conference awards for his two years there, and then received a scholarship to an NAIA, out-of-state university....where he again repeated with all-conference honors his two years there.

            Now with that said, I'm sure that during his JC days, that they did manage to get more pitches into his arsenal, but during his HS pitching days, he managed to get by quite nicely, with only a FB, locating of it properly, and some "pre-pitch" mental deception towards the hitters.
            In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

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            • #36
              Getting back to the OP, I think for up to HS ball, most of the concept to pitching to contact is changing speeds and selection - making a pitch look like the previous pitch but then giving it a twist. Most kids at that level aren't accurate enough to be painting corners, but I think that you can at least insist on keeping most of the pitches near the knees. A pitch with movement and a change of speed from the previous pitch is - if it's near the knees - very unlikely to be hit for extra bases. Maybe it'll be a hard grounder that'll find a hole, but usually that's it.

              A big problem of seen for kids is to save their best off-speed pitch for two strikes, so they can earn a strike-out with. This is fostered by certain TV commentators, who lambast a pitcher for showing their "out" pitch too early in the count. But, in HS, batters rarely square up an 0-0 curve ball; if you can get it over, you're likely to get a lock-up strike 1, which puts you way ahead. Then, try throwing a second breaking ball; if it's a strike, then the kid hitter will likely watch it because no one throws two breaking balls in a row, right? And if it starts out as a strike and then drops away, the worst that will happen is that the hitter will read it and let it go for a ball. But that fastball on 1-1 will seem pretty fast.

              A related problem is kids thinking that they have to always alternate a breaking ball with a fastball to get an out pitch. To the contrary, a slider followed by a curve (or even just another slider with something taken off it) will either result in a foul ball or a one-hopper to 3B (with RH hitters). While in HS, Ursa Minor lived on that combination - fortunately his third baseman for most of that time was a lightning quick 6'2" guy, so those one-hoppers never ended up going over his head.

              For kids who can't control their breaking pitches (or they just don't break enough to be more than a "show me" change of pace), a 4-seam/2-seam combo can be a great pitch to contact approach. Even if you get a 2-seamer up in the zone, if it follows and looks like a 4-seamer, you're still likely to get a grounder to SS.
              sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
                Getting back to the OP, I think for up to HS ball, most of the concept to pitching to contact is changing speeds and selection - making a pitch look like the previous pitch but then giving it a twist.
                Isn’t that pretty much what pitching is, up to and including MLB.

                Most kids at that level aren't accurate enough to be painting corners, but I think that you can at least insist on keeping most of the pitches near the knees. A pitch with movement and a change of speed from the previous pitch is - if it's near the knees - very unlikely to be hit for extra bases. Maybe it'll be a hard grounder that'll find a hole, but usually that's it.
                I don’t think its any less likely to be hit for extra bases than any other location, but I don’t know for sure. I’m fairly sure the hardest ball to hit is one as far away from the batter as possible and moving away, but that could describe up and away as well as down and away. Hopefully one day there’ll be studies that prove what’s happening.

                A big problem of seen for kids is to save their best off-speed pitch for two strikes, so they can earn a strike-out with. This is fostered by certain TV commentators, who lambast a pitcher for showing their "out" pitch too early in the count.
                I don’t know if that’s the main reason kids do that, especially since its pretty rare that they get to determine what they’ll throw in the 1st place.

                But, in HS, batters rarely square up an 0-0 curve ball; if you can get it over, you're likely to get a lock-up strike 1, which puts you way ahead. Then, try throwing a second breaking ball; if it's a strike, then the kid hitter will likely watch it because no one throws two breaking balls in a row, right? And if it starts out as a strike and then drops away, the worst that will happen is that the hitter will read it and let it go for a ball. But that fastball on 1-1 will seem pretty fast.
                I agree, but again, HS pitchers calling their own pitches is pretty rare in my experience.

                A related problem is kids thinking that they have to always alternate a breaking ball with a fastball to get an out pitch. To the contrary, a slider followed by a curve (or even just another slider with something taken off it) will either result in a foul ball or a one-hopper to 3B (with RH hitters). While in HS, Ursa Minor lived on that combination - fortunately his third baseman for most of that time was a lightning quick 6'2" guy, so those one-hoppers never ended up going over his head.
                Again, I completely agree, but I sure don’t see many HS pitchers getting the kind of freedom your boy had.

                For kids who can't control their breaking pitches (or they just don't break enough to be more than a "show me" change of pace), a 4-seam/2-seam combo can be a great pitch to contact approach. Even if you get a 2-seamer up in the zone, if it follows and looks like a 4-seamer, you're still likely to get a grounder to SS.
                I don’t know if you’re right or wrong, but again, I don’t know of any HS teams I come into contact with that give pitchers the freedom to experiment. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. I’m saying I don’t see it.
                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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                • #38
                  Ursa: A pitch with movement and a change of speed from the previous pitch is - if it's near the knees - very unlikely to be hit for extra bases.

                  SK's reponse: I don’t think its any less likely to be hit for extra bases than any other location, but I don’t know for sure.



                  SK: If you'll dispute that statement, then you'll dispute anything.
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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                    SK: If you'll dispute that statement, then you'll dispute anything.
                    What kind of half-truth, half-quote kind of post is that? Do you work for one of the political parties as an ad-man? Why not quote the entire thing I said, rather than just the 1st sentence?

                    Of course you many have some kind of proof that its less likely than any other location. If so would you please share it. I know what baseball dogma says on the subject, but I haven’t seen anything but anecdotal proof.

                    Look, I don’t care where a pitch is, its pretty unlikely it will be hit for extra bases! The question I have is, is “A pitch with movement and a change of speed from the previous pitch is - if it's near the knees” less likely to be hit for extra bases than the same pitch in any other location?

                    In order to answer that, you 1st have to know how many pitches have been hit for extra bases, what their exact location was, and what the speed was of the pitch before it. As far as I know, no one has that information prior to pitch(f/x), which HS teams don’t have access to, and I don’t know who’s looked at it since then. Until that happens and I’ve read the results, I DON’T KNOW FOR SURE is an honest and valid statement.

                    You just don’t get it that when one talks about HSB, there’s just not a lot of proof about much of anything because the record keeping and access to evidence like pitch(f/x) just aren’t there. FI, do you know how many extra base hits your HS team had last season and where each pitch that was hit for extra bases was?

                    With the depth of records I keep, here’s the best I can do for our V team. Out of 896 PAs on 3,281 pitches, there were 230 hits, and of the 230 hits, 63 were XBHs. That’s 1 XBH every 52 pitches. Sorry, but I just don’t believe every one of those non-XBH pitches fits the description.
                    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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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                      SK: If you'll dispute that statement, then you'll dispute anything.
                      That made me laugh
                      efastball.com - hitting and pitching fact checker

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                      • #41
                        SK, with the introduction of IScore and other pitch tracking software that can be run from a smartphone or IPad, we're probably closer to being able to determine the correlation between getting pitches up and XBH's. Until use of that technology becomes universal, we'll have to go by our faulty diagnostic and memory skills as coaches. As the father of a HS pitcher, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that almost every XBH he allowed was when the ball got up, and most hard-hit singles were as well. My reading was that HS players -- even those he pitched to at showcases -- couldn't "lift" low strikes that had any kind of movement.


                        Originally Posted by Ursa Major
                        Getting back to the OP, I think for up to HS ball, most of the concept to pitching to contact is changing speeds and selection - making a pitch look like the previous pitch but then giving it a twist.
                        SK replied: "Isn’t that pretty much what pitching is, up to and including MLB."
                        It never ceases to amaze me how many kids who have average or better velocity - presumably with the consent or direction from their coaches - throw fastball after fastball, tossing in a show-me baby curve every sixth or seventh pitch just to show everyone that they've got it.

                        As far as kids calling their own pitches, you folks up Hwy. 80 from us live in a more sophisticated environment, I guess, but generally the coaches here just give guidance to catchers but don't necessarily call each and every pitch. And, even then, a pitcher can lobby for certain pitch selection approaches. And, of course, if a coach sees that a kid using the sort of combinations I describe gets good results, he will (or at least should) incorporate that into his pitch calls for that kid.
                        Last edited by Ursa Major; 09-22-2012, 02:25 AM.
                        sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
                          SK, with the introduction of IScore and other pitch tracking software that can be run from a smartphone or IPad, we're probably closer to being able to determine the correlation between getting pitches up and XBH's. Until use of that technology becomes universal, we'll have to go by our faulty diagnostic and memory skills as coaches. As the father of a HS pitcher, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that almost every XBH he allowed was when the ball got up, and most hard-hit singles were as well. My reading was that HS players -- even those he pitched to at showcases -- couldn't "lift" low strikes that had any kind of movement.
                          Well, I know software like Isore and Gamechanger are a quantum leap above what’s been available in the past, but as far as being accurate with respect to pitch locations and types, they’re still something I’d never bet much more on than a glass of water. There’s just no way the human eye can be very accurate about the location or type when compared to technology.

                          As for being able to “lift” low strikes with movement, why would it be any more difficult than “tomahawking” high strikes with movement?

                          Don’t forget, I’m the father of a HS pitcher too, and while I THINK most of the XBHs he gave up were “up”, I don’t think they were at the top of the zone.

                          It never ceases to amaze me how many kids who have average or better velocity - presumably with the consent or direction from their coaches - throw fastball after fastball, tossing in a show-me baby curve every sixth or seventh pitch just to show everyone that they've got it.
                          That’s because of the dogma saying the FB is the most important pitch and everything works off of it, coupled with the incessant mantra that velocity is the only way to get “noticed”.

                          As far as kids calling their own pitches, you folks up Hwy. 80 from us live in a more sophisticated environment, I guess, but generally the coaches here just give guidance to catchers but don't necessarily call each and every pitch. And, even then, a pitcher can lobby for certain pitch selection approaches. And, of course, if a coach sees that a kid using the sort of combinations I describe gets good results, he will (or at least should) incorporate that into his pitch calls for that kid.
                          Oh the coaches here sometimes allow the catcher to make a call, but believe me, not in any kind of situation that has consequences.

                          Lobbying for selection and approaches isn’t being free to call the game. Besides, if they’re given the latitude to do that, why not just allow them the latitude to call them?

                          I’m sorry, but there’s just no way I’ll ever believe that coaches can do a better job than the kids could do themselves, if they were properly “trained”. No matter what, the delay or lag time impedes spontaneity and any positive effect there might be. Unfortunately though, its extremely rare for coaches to be able to stand the withdrawal of giving up even a modicum of control.

                          The whole thing is, no matter who calls the pitches, there’s not going to be anything like every hitter crushing pitch after pitch. While it may at times appear so, its never the case. I almost find it insulting to the players that so many people think if they make a mistake in pitch selection or location, they won’t learn from it. The entire purpose of all ball below the ML is to DEVELOP, and that means learning from mistakes.
                          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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                          • #43
                            Scorekeep:

                            First, here's what we can agree on:
                            Me: It never ceases to amaze me how many kids who have average or better velocity - presumably with the consent or direction from their coaches - throw fastball after fastball, tossing in a show-me baby curve every sixth or seventh pitch just to show everyone that they've got it.
                            You: That's because of the dogma saying the FB is the most important pitch and everything works off of it, coupled with the incessant mantra that velocity is the only way to get noticed.
                            You: I'm sorry, but there's just no way I'll ever believe that coaches can do a better job than the kids could do themselves, if they were properly trained. No matter what, the delay or lag time impedes spontaneity and any positive effect there might be. Unfortunately though, its extremely rare for coaches to be able to stand the withdrawal of giving up even a modicum of control.
                            Here's where we'll have to disagree a little:

                            Well, I know software like Isore and Gamechanger are a quantum leap above what’s been available in the past, but as far as being accurate with respect to pitch locations and types, they’re still something I’d never bet much more on than a glass of water. There’s just no way the human eye can be very accurate about the location or type when compared to technology.
                            Uh, these programs are not used for determining pitch locations and type, but rather they help the coach (or teammate-pitcher who's doing the tracking) keep track of this information after he's made the determination. Indeed, I might argue that they make it easier for the coach to make the determination because he just needs to tap on the screen to reflect where the pitch is. But I don't know any program available that can supplant the human eye as far as determining and keeping track of pitch type - do you?

                            As for being able to “lift” low strikes with movement, why would it be any more difficult than “tomahawking” high strikes with movement?
                            Apples & oranges. I'm saying that kids who pitch low strikes with movement are less susceptible to the big hit. High strikes - particularly modern strike zones that stop just above the belt - are much more likely to be hit a long ways. The fact that some hitters can or cannot tomahawk pitches above the zone is irrelevant to my point about successfully "pitching to contact."

                            Don’t forget, I’m the father of a HS pitcher too, and while I THINK most of the XBHs he gave up were “up”, I don’t think they were at the top of the zone.
                            My point is that kids who stay near the bottom of the zone are less likely to get rocked. The problem isn't when you pitch at the top of the zone, but rather when you pitch anywhere OTHER than the bottom of the zone. But, even so, the farthest hits that I've seen my son and others give up is when the ball is near the top of the zone. What I was taught 40+ years ago remains true - a low ball pitcher is a happy pitcher.
                            Lobbying for selection and approaches isn’t being free to call the game. Besides, if they’re given the latitude to do that, why not just allow them the latitude to call them?
                            You posit a false dilemma, here. Just because coaches call the games doesn't mean there's no room for a pitcher to say, "I feel more comfortable throwing X pitch," or pointing out that he's had more success with certain pitches, as a smart pitcher will have a better memory of what has worked in any given instance than will your average HS coach. (Reminds me of the time that Bob Gibson hit a batter who'd hit a home run off him in their last encounter - even though the later encounter was during an Old Timer's Game!)
                            sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
                              Scorekeep:

                              First, here's what we can agree on:
                              Well I’m glad we at least agree on some things.

                              Here's where we'll have to disagree a little:

                              Uh, these programs are not used for determining pitch locations and type, but rather they help the coach (or teammate-pitcher who's doing the tracking) keep track of this information after he's made the determination. Indeed, I might argue that they make it easier for the coach to make the determination because he just needs to tap on the screen to reflect where the pitch is. But I don't know any program available that can supplant the human eye as far as determining and keeping track of pitch type - do you?
                              Only Pitch and Hit(f/x), and I doubt we’ll be seeing them at many HSB fields in the near future. Lol

                              I’ve never doubted the ability of software to manage data. My problem is with the data itself. IOW, I have grave doubts that the “tracker” has the capacity on almost all pitches that were hit, to accurately determine their location and/or type. The same goes for pitches not put into play. Of course many pitches are obvious, such as a ball in the empty batter’s box or that the catcher has to “jump” to get a glove on, but other than them, being very accurate about it is questionable at best.

                              A few months back I began an attempt to help a coach get his scouting data in a form which wouldn’t require him to pour over stacks of scouting sheets, trying to glean information. One of the 1st things to figure out was how to best reflect pitch locations. Like many others, he’d been using the old “9 locations inside the zone” and “16 locations outside the zone” format. So, I gave a graphic representation of that, and each of the 25 different locations had a corresponding number attached to them.

                              I played with it for a while and found that while it provided a much higher precision of the output, the imprecision of where the pitch really was really made the results fairly worthless as far as I was concerned. The result was, I gave up the precision in order to make the results more valid by going to only 4 possible locations, UP/DOWN/IN/OUT. By doing that, at least I gave the “tracker” an honest chance at being accurate.

                              Apples & oranges. I'm saying that kids who pitch low strikes with movement are less susceptible to the big hit. High strikes - particularly modern strike zones that stop just above the belt - are much more likely to be hit a long ways. The fact that some hitters can or cannot tomahawk pitches above the zone is irrelevant to my point about successfully "pitching to contact."
                              I understand how you and other can believe that, but where’s any proof that it’s a fact? Without any empirical data to support what you’re saying, it’s little more than a good theory. My point was that it was the distance of the pitch from what we might call the perfect hitting spot, and its movement that made it harder to hit.

                              My point is that kids who stay near the bottom of the zone are less likely to get rocked. The problem isn't when you pitch at the top of the zone, but rather when you pitch anywhere OTHER than the bottom of the zone. But, even so, the farthest hits that I've seen my son and others give up is when the ball is near the top of the zone. What I was taught 40+ years ago remains true - a low ball pitcher is a happy pitcher.
                              Well, I have no problem with you believing dogma. Heck, I believe it myself, but only up to a point. I recognize that there’s really no proof one way or the other.

                              You posit a false dilemma, here. Just because coaches call the games doesn't mean there's no room for a pitcher to say, "I feel more comfortable throwing X pitch," or pointing out that he's had more success with certain pitches, as a smart pitcher will have a better memory of what has worked in any given instance than will your average HS coach. (Reminds me of the time that Bob Gibson hit a batter who'd hit a home run off him in their last encounter - even though the later encounter was during an Old Timer's Game!)
                              What you’re doing is taking what you find to be true and extrapolating it to mean that’s what goes on in every situation. I’m sorry, that’s simply not true. But let’s for a moment assume it is true everywhere. How many HS kids are going to challenge their coach? Kids aren’t stupid. They understand that coaches don’t like to be challenged, and most won’t do it.

                              Sure there are some like my kid who’d risk getting yanked by refusing to throw what was called, and was on more than one occasion. But most kids don’t have the kind of situation he did, and wouldn’t take the risk. I honestly don’t think you understand just how controlling some coaches can be.
                              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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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
                                My point is that kids who stay near the bottom of the zone are less likely to get rocked. The problem isn't when you pitch at the top of the zone, but rather when you pitch anywhere OTHER than the bottom of the zone. But, even so, the farthest hits that I've seen my son and others give up is when the ball is near the top of the zone. What I was taught 40+ years ago remains true - a low ball pitcher is a happy pitcher.
                                It's my belief that this is true because of the barrel paths that most younger hitters have. They are taught to, "Stay short to the ball" and "Hit the ball out front", and as a result, they have barrel paths that are "down to the ball" on all pitches "down in the zone".

                                These are the hitters that have "late" bat speed, where they are taking their hands to the ball and THEN swinging, versus those that get the barrel up to speed early in their swing. Here is an example of an "advanced" HS hitter, who has developed "early bat speed".....watch the catcher's glove if you're having trouble picking up pitch location.



                                He starts his barrel early and from "behind", and is able to make adjustments for pitches in all locations of the zone, versus taking the barrel "to the ball" and trying to hit it "out front" as is seen in most developing hitters.....



                                NOTE: Nothing meant as derogatory towards the second hitter posted, he's probably a very successful HS hitter. It's just that his swing is a good example of what the majority of hitters do at his age/level, and one of the reasons that they struggle with pitches "down in the zone", and why pitchers throwing there, seem to be more successful than when they "leave the ball up".

                                Imagine if you will, how he'd have to "go get that ball", had it been "down in the zone" and how/where his barrel path would have probably put the ball into play.....compared to how the hitter's barrel path gets to the "lower" pitch in the first, above, clip on the left.
                                In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

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