One of the most important areas of offensive baseball is the ability to make good contact with two strikes.
The most successful pitchers have the ability to “turn it up a notch” when they have the hitter in a two-strike situation. Unfortunately, many hitters do not raise their level of competitiveness accordingly. Not only does a hitter need to make physical adjustments, but he must also turn up his mental focus to prepare for the upcoming confrontation. It should be “personal!” Here are some ideas in dealing with the two-strike situation:
I. MENTAL OUTLOOK
Imagine yourself backed into a corner of an alley. Someone confronts you and wants your last five dollars. You can either:
A. Submit and give up
B. Try and negotiate a settlement
C. Fight your way out of it
We would like players to have the “C” mentality.
II. PHYSICAL ADJUSTMENTS
A. Choke up on the bat slightly. Bat control is important
B. Move slightly closer to the plate. Take away the outside strike
C. Spread out slightly to insure balance
D. Slightly crouch to shorten the strike zone. This adjustment helps in identifying and laying off the high pitch
III. MENTAL ADJUSTMENTS
Make it clear to the team that taking a third-called strike is unacceptable. There is no doubt that sometimes a hitter is fooled by a great pitch, and he cannot pull the trigger. However, this situation requires a feisty, competitive mode.
A. Look fastball and adjust
B. Look to go up the middle and opposite field. Protect outside to in
C. Foul off any borderline strikes
D. Fight off or block off inside strikes
IV. ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE
Putting the ball in play has so many possibilities. Keep the strikeouts down to find a correlation with run production. The difference between ten strikeouts and six strikeouts in a contest is huge! The difference with those four contacts can result in any of the following:
A. Advanced runners
B. Forced errors
C. Bloop hits
D. Bad hops/lost in the sun
E. Frustrated pitcher
- Effective two-strike hitting can be enhanced in practice settings.
- Establish count settings in the cages or in front toss drills.
- Also include this package in a batting practice scenario live on the field.
- Players must understand the concepts and see the fruits of their labor.As a coach, be very positive and complimentary when players compete in two-strike situations.
Sam Piraro has been the head coach at San Jose State University for 18 seasons. In 2000 he took the Spartans to the College World Series in Omaha for the first time in school history, and was named the Western Athletic Conference “Coach of the Year” for his efforts.Piraro was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in 2003 and took a year’s leave of absence from the baseball program to successfully fight the disease. After undergoing two transplants, his cancer went into remission and he returned to the dugout in 2004.
Piraro played for San Jose State in the early 1970s and was the coach of Mission Junior College in Santa Clara for seven years prior to taking the job at his alma mater, where he has a 587-433-5 managerial record.