Thursday, October 19, 2006

BASEBALL: How Does Pitching Inside Really Affect a Baseball Game?

Have you ever wondered exactly how the inside part of the plate can affect the flow of a baseball game? I think we'd all agree that it's acceptable as truth just because of the sheer fact that you hear about it so often. It seems like a small thing and it's truly difficult to gauge its importance simply by watching on television, but it is a major factor in any game that you watch.

The way a pitcher approaches a certain hitter is a factor of scouting reports, what the count is, how a batter reacted to a pitcher previously in the game or at-bat, what inning it is, where the game is being played, the weather, etc. etc. etc. The bottom line is that a pitcher's sequence to a hitter is a very fluid situation, but working the inside part of the plate remains vital to his success throughout.

Moving the Hitter's Feet
A result of effective inside pitching is being able to "move a player's feet". The central idea is to make the hitter come out of his stance and move out of a pitch's way. This makes a hitter uncomfortable and sets up an immediate opportunity to make a pitch down and away to which he'll be just a split second slow to react. This type of pitching is central to a pitcher's success and is proven to work again and again.

A Change of Pace
Seemingly opposite to the goal of moving a hitter's feet is stay away from him for multiple pitches in a row and then sneak a pitch on the inside corner. The general concept is soft – changeups and breaking balls – away and then hard inside with a fastball. If you can wrap your mind around how little time a hitter has to react, it also becomes more apparent how this approach can 'freeze' him at the plate.

Intimidation
What value do you put on a pitcher gaining the "upper hand" in an at-bat, and how does that affect how a batter thinks and reacts? For starters, maybe a hitter begins to doubt his ability or lose sight of what he's capable of. Also, being face-to-face with a 95 mph fastball can obviously have an emotionally jarring effect on a batter whose main focus is seeing things clearly and losing every thought in his head.

Exploiting a Weakness
Depending on the hitter, the inside corner could also represent a weak part in the hitter's zone. Though a dangerous place to work, a pitcher must find a way to exploit that weakness in order to find success. Left-handed hitters often have trouble with inside fastballs, but can pound any kind of breaking ball or pitch that misses down in the zone. Obviously a pitch too far inside gives a hitter an immediate free pass to first base, leaving a very small zone in which to squeeze a pitch.

1 comment:

Evan said...

Mr. Kenny Bloggs, you have done it again, you are genius. Your blogs keep on amazing everyday, as you may know, I am an immense baseball fan, and this article explains the amazing ability of pitching and that good pitching will always out perform good batting.

Keep up the great work!