Batting Fundamentals

You’ve reasonably heard someone say, “hitting a baseball is one of the most difficult things to do in sports.” They weren’t exaggerating. Hitting a baseball is not an easy task, and it gets harder and harder the older you get. By the period you reach high school, you’re facing pitchers who not only throw hard but have comprehended a number of different pitches. Learning and preparing for the proper batting fundamentals of a baseball swing isn’t simple, but it’s the only way to become a regular hitter.

Here are 10 batting fundamentals by Ty Cobb

1.   Don’t grip your bat at the very end. Leave, say, an inch or two. Also, leave at least an inch or more space between your hands; that gives you balance and control of the bat, and also keeps hands from interfering with each other during the baseball swing.

2.   Take position at plate, especially against right-hand pitchers, back of the plate, and against a man with a real curve,  you can stay on the back-line of the batter’s box.
Now try to hit to right-center. I don’t mean you should place the ball in any one spot, but start now practicing to hit your right-handers to the opposite field. An inside ball from a right-hand pitcher you will naturally pull, say, to left-center.

3.   Don’t slug at full speed; learn to meet them firmly, and you will be surprised at the results.

4.   Now, to hit as I ask, to right-center or center. You stand away from the plate the distance you can see with your mind’s-eye that you can hit the ball that curves on the inside corner, to center. This distance away from the plate will allow you to hit the outside ball to right. In other words, you protect the plate both on inside pitches and outside.

5.   Remember, the plate is the pitcher’s objective and he has to come to it. I use the ‘back of plate’ expression to mean towards the catcher, away from the plate to denote the distance from the plate towards the outside of the box.
Now, use a slightly closed stance, and keep a little more weight on your front foot than the back. That gives you balance and won’t pull you away from curves. You are always in a position to give maximum drive.

6.   Don’t pull a curve ball from a righthander. The ball is revolving away from you. Hit with the revolution and to right field.

7.   Keep your left elbow cocked on level with your hands or even higher. Never let the elbow down below the hands, and keep your hands always well away from your body – keep pushing them out, even with your body or back.

8.   Keep your back leg straight. Of course, if you put your weight more on the front leg, then the back leg will be straight.

9.   If high fastballs inside really bother you: Crouch over from the waist and pass them up. Don’t bite, in other words. In a crouched stance, you make the pitcher throw lower, which forces him away from the position that bothers you. But I think with the instructions I have given, you will hit them wherever they pitch.

10.   Against a speedy left-hander: Don’t pull the ball! 
Use the same stance I have recommended, and when he throws you his curve, knock him down with it or you will naturally pull it, as the ball is breaking in toward you. But against a left-hander of fair speed: Move up in the box, also closer to the plate, and pull this style of pitching.

Ty Cobb’s Batting Fundamentals are from a letter that he wrote to rookie outfielder Sam Chapman on May 18, 1938. It first appeared in print in 1947. Ty Cobb had the highest lifetime batting average (.366) of any player in the history of baseball. He won more batting average titles (12) than any other player, and in 1936 he became the first player ever selected to the Hall of Fame. Cobb played 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers and retired as a player in 1928 following a two-year stint with the Philadelphia A’s when, at the age of 41, he hit “only” .323, his worst average since 1906. Cobb also was the first ballplayer to star in a movie, Somewhere in Georgia, a drama by Grantland Rice.

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