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Baseball Strategy:Batting Counts

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Swinging at a 3-0 Pitch

Rules and Exceptions

Rule 1:

Exceptions: if its a blowout whether your on the winning or losing end, take a swing and hope for the best. (p.s. if your coach gets mad blame it on this site!)
Nonsensical. There are some hitters who will swing at the 3-0 pitch and some who won't. That doesn't matter, as long as the hitter has the plate patience to make the correct decision. However, it is pretty demoralizing to see an out made by a strikeout or any routine play when the count was 3-0, especially when the out was made by swinging on the 3-0 pitch. Pitches in this count look pretty good, but the hitter needs to take into account whether he can hit the ball well and hard. It'll be a pitch in the zone, typically a fastball, so if the hitter swings, he's used his chance at 3-0 (barring a foul ball/swing and miss, the latter unlikely because of the convenient placement of the pitch.) If the count goes to 3-1, either by a called strike or swinging strike/foul ball, the hitter will have a chance at a similar pitch again. However, it's all about risk vs. reward. If a smart and crafty pitcher like Tom Glavine notices a hitter swinging on 3-0, he will note his aggressiveness and, on 3-1, perhaps float the hitter a diving changeup or a curveball. Ideally, these pitches will stay in the zone (for the pitcher), but they are of a more complex nature and have movement, unlike the fastball. At this point, the hitter might curse himself for not putting that get-me-over 3-1 fastball into play, since after 2 called/swinging strikes, it's a full count. Now, the hitter has to choke up and try to put the ball into play, whereas the pitcher has increased leeway to throw a pitch of a varying location and speed (or, if you're smart and crafty like Glavine, maybe even a chase pitch.)


Rule 2:

Exceptions:

Taking a 2-0 Pitch

Rules and Exceptions

Rule 1: It depends, I definitely am taking a "one pitch, one zone" mentality to the batters box with a 2-0 count. If I don't get the pitch I am sitting on, then I take the pitch. What pitch do I look for? Fastball in a six inch square section of the middle of the strike zone of course, the pitcher needs to throw a strike because he does not want to risk 3-0. Most pitchers, unless they are hopelessly wild, will try to get back in the count with a fastball over the heart of the plate.

Exceptions:

Obviously, if I get the pitch I am looking for. Fastball, middle of the strike zone for instance.... I am going to try to put a good swing on that one...

The above post is slightly incorrect. It is crazy to think that a hitter will get a fastball down the heart of the plate 2-0; a hitter will never get a fastball down the heart of the plate, barring an enormous mistake. Just because a pitcher is in a hole doesn't mean he can throw nothing but a belt-high fastball. The strike zone is from knees to letters, so there's plenty of room to throw something different. Of course, now isn't the time to try a chase pitch in the dirt, because a player who would go for that on this count shouldn't be playing ball, but there is surely enough room for, say, a running fastball.

A hitter shouldn't be too picky on a 2-0 count because the pitcher could easily get right back in the at-bat. A 2-1 count is practically even. Again, the strike zone is big enough for a pitcher to throw something to the outer half. Does the hitter take that on 2-0? That is for him to decide. While outside-corner pitches are harder to pull, he could send it into the opposite field. If he takes the pitch, the count moves to 2-1. But if he swings, the threat could be neutralized with a weak ground out, or he could stroke an opposite field, run scoring double. On a 2-1 count, the ground is pretty much level. While it's not an ideal count for a hitter


Rule 2:

Exceptions:

-Pitcher walked the last batter on 4 pitches -Bases loaded, 2 outs, bottom of the order

This exception isn't accurate either. Just because the last hitter got walked on four pitches, first of all, doesn't mean that will happen again. Just because that happened doesn't mean the hitter shouldn't take the bat off his shoulders. Strikes are strikes, and if anything, the home plate umpire might expand his zone a little bit with a pitcher as described on the mound. It would be unwise, yes, for the hitter to take the first pitch of the at bat, but if the pitcher is consistently throwing strikes, it doesn't make sense to leave the bat on your shoulder looking for a walk. Plus, even if the pitcher isn't observant, the pitching coach is: he could make a visit to the mound to tell the pitcher that the hitters haven't been biting in, what, 2 to three plate appeareances? Start throwing some strikes, and even if they start coming around on the second or third pitch, you will have the lead. All of a sudden, the idea of that walk goes down the toilet.

Bottom-of-the-order hitters in professional baseball are professional hitters. They aren't the kids who pick dandelions in the outfield in Little League. A professional hitter in a major league lineup with a bat in his hands is a threat, and to suggest that he should pass up on a perfectly good series of pitches just to try and work a walk is incorrect.

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