It is really hard to be a consistently good hitter. At the 14-17u levels that our teams play at, the metrics for an elite hitter are >.450 OBP and >.350 batting average. For a good hitter, it is >.400 OBP and >.300 batting average. Note — this is after about 100 plate appearances, so don’t freak out or celebrate for another 2 months.
To accomplish this level of performance requires consistent effort and competing in EVERY at bat (i.e. not giving away at-bats). If you give away at-bats when your team is up 6-1 or down 5-1, you are not going to achieve this level of performance.
Good hitters have a plan when they step into the batters box. What is your plan? In general, it should be “Get a good pitch and square it up”. But, what is your hitting approach in more detail?
Well, the answer should be “it depends …. on the situation”.
Runner on 2nd, no outs => your job is to advance the runner unless you are getting paid to play baseball.
Runner on 3rd, less than 2 outs => your job is to to get a good pitch to hit and hammer it.
Two strikes => your job is to shorten up, let the ball travel and battle your butt off to eat up pitches or get the pitcher to make a mistake.
So, your detailed approach is that it “Depends on the situation”
It also depends on the count.
And, it depends on the type of pitcher you are facing.
Here was a summary from a weekend this past summer:
In Game 1 this weekend, we faced two guys that were #1’s and we kept taking strike one fastballs. We took 14 strike one fastballs. You cannot do that against #1 guys. They have good stuff and they are not going to walk you. The strike 1 fastball is the best pitch you are going to see. Sit on it and compete. You need to take these match-ups personally as a hitter. Your future in baseball depends on beating #1 guys.
In Game 3, we faced a struggling pitcher for 3 innings and scored only 6 runs. In those situations, we need to step on the gas and relentlessly hit and walk our way to double digit runs. But, we starting refusing to walk and got ourselves out by swinging at bad pitches.
Then, in Game 3, we faced a crafty pitcher who got ahead in the count and then made us look foolish. We tried to hit the ball in the air with a 30mph wind blowing out. Instead, we fouled balls off early in the count then chased bad pitches. The result, was 3 innings and zero runs against a pitcher throwing 70 against the wind.
As the season progresses, we need to understand what kind of pitcher we are facing and how we need to adjust our approach immediately. Let’s not wait until the post-game talk to discuss adjustments.