Got a good pitching and hitting combo Q and A today.
Are there ways to tell a hitter’s weak spots in his swing? When facing a hitter for the first time, are there some things that can help a pitcher know where the batter is most susceptible?
The more familiar you are with hitting mechanics the easier it is to determine what pitches and locations each hitter will have a hard time with. Let me give you a couple things to look for as a pitcher or coach looking to gain the edge on a hitter before a pitch is thrown.
1. Watch his weight balance when he swings. If you see that he’s got a narrow stance, (and often ends up on his front foot a little each swing) he’ll most likely have a tough time with:
– Any off-speed pitches, especially those that are thrown away from him on the outside part of the plate. This is because guys who drift forward are often timing fastballs only. Therefore they have a tough time waiting for anything slow (especially straight).
– Fastballs inside. Hitters who float forward onto their front foot often have trouble opening their hips. This is because their weight is distributed forward and opening the hips effectively with all the weight on the front leg is impossible. If a hitter can’t open his hips, he will not be able to hit an inside pitch well.
2. Take a look at his bat path as he swings. Does he let his hands stray away from his body a lot like he’s swinging in a giant circle? Hitters who have a poor bat path will have a problem with:
– Inside pitches in general. Though he may come in contact with inside pitches, there is a good chance that he will pull the ball severely all the time. Just move your guys in the middle of the diamond to compensate for his flaw.
– Outside pitches with a variance in speed. Because of the long bat path, the hitter’s barrel of the bat will only be on the outside part of the plate for a small period of time. If he doesn’t time the pitch properly, his bat will be cutting across the strike zone instead of moving through it. With outside pitches you’ll get him to pop up a lot to the opposite field because of the side spin generated on contact. I tend to avoid fastballs out over the plate as long swing guys tend to hit this pitch pretty well.
Lastly, a great way to pick up how to throw hitters is to watch the playoffs this October. Because there are multi-game series on TV, it’s a good time to watch pitcher/hitter confrontations.