This is another article about how to use what hitters are taught against them. Hitters are our enemy. Understanding how they think and behave gives us an advantage and a window on the ways to defeat them. Remember what we quoted about strategy in a previous article:
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Here is an excerpt from a hitting expert’s web site. What they are trying to teach the hitter is to synchronize his load and swing with the rhythm of your delivery. Their objective is to get their load and swing aligned with the arrival of your pitch to create maximum impact.
Here is the article…
One of my favorite things to do when I attend games is film hitters when they are on deck. I believe it can reveal a lot of a hitter’s intent and mental process. I strongly urge players to watch the on deck process of hitters when they go to games and try to understand what they are trying to think and feel. In this clip, we can see Josh Donaldson going through some practice swings while Ben Revere is getting ready for the first pitch of the game. My favorite part is at the end of the clip where he is rocking back and forth and “dancing” with the pitcher. He is shifting his weight from side to side to time up the pitchers delivery. You can even see when the pitch is coming in. …..he is establishing rhythm and timing. This movement is the polar opposite of a “stance”. He is creating a rhythmic motion that will be maintained all the way through contact.
Here is the video of Donaldson:
Here is a video of Joey Votto in an at bat:
Notice—like they say—their pre-pitch rhythm. Their dance. Rocking back and forth in unison with the pitcher. You will likely see more and more hitters do this since the hitters you see in these videos are successful. Also the hitting expert sites now know about this technique so they will use it to sell more training lessons and videos creating more and more hitters like this—-dancers.
So pitchers…..disrupting this process is your objective. But how?
Like Sun Tzu says: it’s about deception.
The first way is with change-ups. With change-ups your wind-up is the same as your fastball but unlike the fastball the ball takes more time to get to the plate. Hitters that dance like this are very susceptible to change ups. The greater the difference in speed between your fast ball and change the better too. The reason why changes are so effective is they look like fastball for most of their flight to the hitters. Speed is more difficult for hitters to read than break and that is why changes are the best tool against dancers.
Try to get help to determine if you have a dancer when he is on deck. Have your bench or your fielders get looks at the on deck hitter—–especially their first time up—–to see if the hitter is a dancer. Getting you a sign when a hitter is walking up to the box that he is a dancer will help you right off the bat. You will be able to tell right away if the hitter is a dancer after your first few pitches but it is good to know before the first pitch if you can.
The other way is more difficult. It is changing the pace (some call it tempo) of your wide up—-in effect altering YOUR rhythm—-during the at bat. How do you do this without screwing up your pitches? Pitchers are taught to maintain a constant tempo to be successful. Slight changes in your wind up will work to get the hitters out of sync. Be careful however with this one. You do not want to change the effectiveness of your pitches.
Another alternative is to pitch dancers from the stretch—-even with no one on base. This way you can use different delivery tempos such as your slide step, as well as your faster and slower paced deliveries as you would to throw off a base-runner’s timing. Your various stretch paces will play havoc with the dancer’s attempt to sync up with your delivery.
As an aside here….this is why hitting is on the down turn. Hitters learn one swing type and approach and stick with it. You as a pitcher can cross up hitters by varying your approach to get them out. Thank you hitting experts for another way—as we showed here—-to defeat hitters by understanding their approach and devising ways to send them back to the bench.
Pitchers…you will see more dancers rocking in the box as time goes on. Use these techniques to defeat them.