Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hitting to All Fields

By Todd Thomas

Having the ability to use the whole field or to hit to all fields, just how important is it? It's an interesting questions if you really think about it. Most would quickly answer that it is extremely important if not the MOST important ability a hitter should have. Is it? I'm not here to really tell you that it either is or isn't. I just want to examine the thought process of some coaches who hold the hard line that this ability is what makes a good hitter or would have you believe that player who can't or doesn't can't hit very well. Really?

I find it interesting that the prevailing thought amongst those around baseball(coaches, players, parents, and so on) look at a hitter that pulls everything and say "he can hit BUT he pulls everything". Yet the player who hits everything to the opposite field they say "this hitter is great, he hits everything the other way". Their eyes glaze over and go on and on over what a great hitter this player is because they hit everything the other way. Wait a minute. I thought that hitting everything to one side of the field like a pull hitter does was not good???

They will say of the pull hitter, "pitchers will just work him away all the time and he is doomed". Really? Doomed to be a bad hitter because he is a dead pull hitter and those oh so perfect pitchers will just throw everything on the outside black of the plate and this player will never be able to hit. Might as well quit the game right? Not so fast.

Ever see a major league team put the "shift" on against a player? Ever happen to notice who they put the shift on against? Is it against that deadly opposite field hitter so he won't get a single the other way? Not that I've seen. I've always noticed that it's players like David Ortiz, Jason Giambi, Mark Teixeira and others like them who are trying to PULL the ball hard every time they come up. Teams are willing to give them the hit the other way yet these players still try to pull the ball hard.

Why don't they just take what they are given every time and hit to the opposite field? Well, that's exactly what the other team and their pitcher would love for them to do. Yet they don't. They still try to do the big damage by yanking one deep. Ever notice that they still from time to time are able to pull one just like they want to? Yea, but the other team and their pitcher knew EXACTLY what they wanted to do. Why didn't they just prevent this from EVER happening by having their laser precision pitcher just work the outside part of the plate thereby foiling this dead pull hitter? One thing I've noticed over the years is that incredibly, pitchers aren't perfect. They can't always put the ball exactly where they want to.

I just think it's funny sometimes how people will fawn all over the hitter who can hit everything the other way while dismissing the guy who pulls everything as one who is in big trouble when the pitcher figures out what he wants to do. I've heard it so many times from coaches saying "Oh I know just how to get that guy out".. "I know just how to pitch him".. He'll never do anything against us because we'll just stay away from him".. "He'd never get a hit off me or one of my pitchers cause we'll just pitch him this way". Whatever. Then why in the world do guys like David Ortiz still get hits and home runs when the other team knows exactly how to pitch him to prevent this?

Do you know why pitchers like to work the outside part of the plate? I believe it is in large part due to the fact that they stand the least chance of being hurt really bad on their outside pitch. There's a reason why the great Ted Williams said, "History is made on the inside half of the plate". Remember, batting average is nice but ultimately it's runs that win games. Would you rather lead your league in batting average with a bunch of opposite field hitters, or would you rather lead your league in runs scored with a lower batting average. The only numbers that really matter at the end of a game fall under the letter "R".

So is hitting to all fields valuable? Absolutely! Most certainly, but ultimately where is the most damage done? Just something to think about.

Todd Thomas is a Baseball Coach and Professional Hitting Instructor for Mike Epstein Hitting. Coach Todd's personal hitting website is Coach Todd also enthusiastically endorses as a place where baseball and softball hitters can master the Confidence, Composure, Focus and Consistency of their game so they can reach their full potential.
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1 comment:

Dan said...

That is a very good article!

Pitchers who study hitters know where a hitter is most vulnerable. However, it is most challenging to pitchers when a hitter has great power on both sides of the plate.

Dan Gazaway