The hitter is more successful if he.
1. Knows what pitch is coming
2. Knows what the action of these pitchers are
3. Knows the pitcher’s tendencies in a given situation
1. Observe the pitcher warming up in the bullpen prior to the game. Train your eye. Take note of the movement of his fastball, angle of the release, movement of the breaking ball, timing of the motion, and repertoire of pitches.
2. Closely observe the pitcher’s initial 8 warm-ups to start the game. Here the pitcher will show you with his glove and deliveries what he has on the ball. Take note of his breaking pitches.
3. Observe the first two hitters’ reactions to this pitcher’s offerings. Take note of the timing of their swings to his pitches. Your reactions could be similar.
SECOND HAND KNOWLEDGE
1. Ask the first two hitters for knowledge as to fastball speed and movement, breaking ball speed and movement, release angle, etc.
FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE
1. Take the first pitch of the game (NOT the first pitch of every at-bat.) This is the lowest percentage pitch as far as getting a base hit. Take it to avoid the bad percentages and accrue first hand knowledge of the pitcher’s repertoire.
2. Look for this same pitch on the second delivery. This follows Ted Williams’ theory of “Don’t swing at anything you haven’t seen.” If the pitcher throws the same pitch on the second delivery, you should be able to hit it effectively. If not, you accrue more knowledge. Chances are good that both will not be strikes.
As a dependable rule of thumb, the following counts require the following pitches:
1. Fastball Counts: 3-0, 3-1, 2-0, 2-1, 1-0. This is 42% of the fastball/strike counts.
When the pitcher does not have control of his breaking pitches (less than 50% are strikes), 0-0 and 3-2 become fastball counts. This is 63% of the counts.
2. “Neutral” Counts: when the pitcher can throw anything — 0-0, 1-1, 2-2. In Neutral Counts the hitter should set the timing of his mechanics between the fastball and the breaking ball and adjust up or down to the pitcher’s choice.
3. Breaking Ball Counts: 0-2, 1-2, 2-2, and 3-2 with a runner on second base and first base open. In Breaking Ball Counts the hitter should set the timing of his mechanics to the breaking ball and use his inside-out stroke to adjust to the fastball.
OVERPOWERING PITCHERS OR LEFTY-LEFTY SITUATIONS
1. Look for the fastball up to two strikes. Then protect the outside corner. The odds are against any pitcher choosing to throw and getting over two breaking pitches in a row on his first two deliveries.Therefore the hitter is assured to get at least one pitch he is looking for. He cannot be too choosey when he gets it.
Rob Ellis has played, coached and written about baseball for over 35 years. He became one of only 18 players to advance directly to the Major Leagues without first playing in the minors when he joined the Milwaukee Brewers in 1971 shortly after finishing his college career at Michigan State, where he was named College Baseball Player of the Year.Ellis had a 12-year pro career as a player, which included parts of three seasons with the Brewers. He broke into the coaching ranks with the Chicago Cubs in 1983. He returned to Michigan State as an assistant coach from 1985-1990. In 1991 he managed the Everett Giants in the San Francisco organization. Ellis later served as roving hitting instructor for the Baltimore Orioles from 1995-1997, and was the hitting instructor for the Minnesota Twins during the 1998-1999 seasons.
A highly sought after clinician, Ellis possesses a master’s degree in counseling psychology, is the author of five hitting videos, including “The Lost Secrets of Hitting,” and co-author with Mike Schmidt on “The Mike Schmidt Hitting Study.”