Some Thoughts on Hitting in Winning Baseball

"Hit "Em Where They Ain't." ~ Wee Willie Keeler Hall of Fame

“Hit “Em Where They Ain’t.”
~ Wee Willie Keeler
Hall of Fame

 

1) If a team doesn’t hit, they don’t produce a whole lot of base runners.

2) Without base runners, a team will find it impossible to move them into scoring position. And unless a team scores more runs than their opponent, they cannot win. Yes. we know. It’s that basic.

3) If your club manages to get a number of runners into scoring position from 2nd and 3rd base, it’s still a lot harder scoring runs if you don’t have batters who can still hit under those circumstances.

4) Hitting is important; hitting with runners in scoring position in a close game is essential.

5) If a club’s only 4 hits in a 10-4 loss are 4 homers hit  by one player who only started getting them after the other team took a 10-0 lead in the top of the first inning, that mighty contribution was far less important than the dink single in the bottom of the 9th in another game in which the hitter of that lone puny bingle in the drove in runners from 2nd and 3rd for a 2-1 walk-off victory. Singles in that circumstance at a high rate are more important in baseball than a 40 homer year by ne player who only hits them like that in the late innings with no runners on base and his club hopelessly behind in the game.

6) If a batter can get hits in game-critical situations, coaches should leave his stance and style alone as long as it is producing the right results at a good rate.

7) Hitters who only seem to homer or strikeout most of the time, while still hitting .200, are an absolute luxury, unless the club has a large number of table-setter hitters who get on base in bunches often and that’s when the homers come from the “hit or sit” guy.

8) One “hit or sit” guy batter on a term is a luxury; two “hit or sits” is risky; three “hit or sits” is insanity; four “hit or sits” is a death wish for securing the No. One pick in next year’s amateur player draft; five or more “hit or sits” is a prescription for bankruptcy and either sale of the club or disenfranchisement.

9) As for the current vogue of shifting the defense for many batters as though these guys were Ted Williams, we say, leave the game alone, Mr. Commissioner. We don’t need rules that control where fielders may play on the field, The hitters have an answer, if they are smart enough and skilled enough to take it. Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler prescribed it over a century ago.

10) Hit ’em where they ain’t.

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3 Responses to “Some Thoughts on Hitting in Winning Baseball”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    Can’t think of a better analysis or explanation. One other thing: If a player takes a lot of pitches and ultimately draws a lot of walks, BUT strikes out at a high rate when he is forced to swing his future as a long term solid hitter is in doubt. Ted Williams took a lot of walks and was often criticized for being willing to walk when going just a bit outside the strike zone might have allowed him a chance to drive in more runs instead of just joining those already on base. There can be an argument for that, but Ted had determined that he would not hit enough of those “close” pitches solidly enough to ignore the sure fire way of getting on base.

    However, what made Ted Williams Ted Williams (and Barry Bonds Barry Bonds, for that matter) was when the pitcher threw strikes they didn’t miss them very often. Some hitters don’t hit the strikes well enough yet. Singleton last year and Castro, Carter and Springer this year have been in that class. Has Springer had the light go on and reduce his once always vicious cut? It looked that way in his five hit game in Chicago. If it carries on he may yet become the hitter Astro brass and fans hope. He’ll still walk a lot, but won’t swing and miss as much on the strikes.

  2. Tom Hunter Says:

    The answer to the shift is to hit the ball the opposite way, but it reqiures bat control–something learned in the old game of Pepper. Today’s players are more interested in “power through the zone,” using lighter drilled-out bats.

    No edict from the Commissioner’s office mandating where an infielder should position himself is necessary or desirable. Why punish the defense for the hitters’ incompetence?

    Hit ’em where they ain’t or take a seat.

  3. Rick B. Says:

    As everyone has said, good hitters make adjustments & that’s the way to beat defensive shifts as well. I remembered reading an article about the Royals’ Mike Moustakas, who was so terrible at the plate at the beginning of last year that he was sent back to the minors for a while. This year he is batting over .300. Why? He spent the off-season practicing how to hit the ball to the opposite field in order to beat the shifts teams were using against him. Here is a link to a brief ESPN blurb about Moustakas (it’s from late April, but his batting average is still above .300 here in mid-June – a big “way to go” goes out to him): http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/post/_/id/105122/simple-change-has-big-payoff-for-moustakas

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