Today let’s talk about hitting in different counts. Hitters today at the younger levels (10-18) are not aware of the counts they are getting in and understanding what they as hitters should be doing. What they should be doing is changing their approach. I like to use the term selective aggressive. Before I get into what that means lets first talk counts.
For me there are two types of counts. Ahead and Behind. I don’t like to think there is an even count (2-1) If I take another strike my chances of being successful at the plate go way down. So ahead is easy there are five counts that tell me if I’m ahead or behind. 0-0, 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, and 3-1. If any of these counts are on me, I am ahead, ALL OTHER COUNTS I am behind. Back to selective aggressive. If I am ahead, I am being selective aggressive which means I am picking speeds and zones of pitches and being extremely aggressive towards hitting those pitches.
Ahead: Batting Average .351-.440
Behind: Batting Average .179-.240
Example: 0-0 I will look fastball (speed) middle away (zones) and if you throw it there, I will swing. Let’s break down that approach a little more. Speed is easy get on time and that is solved, middle away is a little harder. If you split a plate into five sections, it will make more sense. In, Middle In, Middle, Middle Away, away is how baseball players describe it. So, anything with the words middle or away I am going after. Now another thing that is important to know here is that I am looking to hit the ball back up the middle away. So, for a right-hand hitter lets hit the ball over the 2ndbasemen’s head and left handed over the shortstops head. Now with this approach to hitting and which pitches you are looking for a decent hitter will be able to take anything middle away and hit it well. I hear so many players tell me they are looking IN or Away and that is only really covering a third of the plate which is way to selective and chances of them seeing that pitch are much smaller. A decent hitter can cover two thirds worth of hitting zones at the 10-18 age level.
When you are behind in the count it’s important to understand what your job should be now.
Example count 0-1: Behind now I can’t take another strike, or I will be making the rest of my at bat much harder. So many players will take the first pitch strike (usually a fastball) and then get an off-speed pitch next and take that also. Their at bat is over. Why aren’t more players being taught they can hit that off-speed pitch and still be successful. I’ve heard from many players they take the off-speed pitch because it isn’t their pitch, or they haven’t seen it yet. That’s only an excuse for the first batter of the day that nobody has seen an off-speed pitch. Good baseball players will use the first few hitters in the lineup to see trends before they actually have to get up there and hit off the pitcher. The actual approach when you are behind in the count should be any fastball for a strike and any off-speed for a strike they must put their best swing on that pitch. It’s basically two strike hitting but without cutting down swings.
Ahead: Middle away fastball
Behind: Any pitch speed anywhere for a strike, sit fastball and keep hands back for off-speed.
So, when you look at successful counts and see what ahead and behind mean they match up directly with what this article is about, and hitters should put more approach into their at bats according to counts.
Side Note for players understand what pitchers are doing to you as hitters.
Hit according to counts and it will be much more fun.
Next article will be about swing thoughts....