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Becoming a Complete Hitter
You want to
train yourself to become a complete hitter. Part of being a complete hitter is
being able to hit the ball to all parts of the field. This is important because
when you are capable of using the whole field, the pitcher is not able to pitch
you in one particular way. In other words he will have to work harder to keep
you off the bases. Additionally, the defense can not shade you to one particular
area in the field.
In the 1996
World Series, you might have noticed how the Atlanta Braves defense was playing
Darryl Strawberry. The defense shifted to the right side of the field, except
for the third baseman, Chipper Jones, who moved to the shortstop position. This
left the whole left side of the infield open. The reason for this was because:
• Darryl was
basically a pull hitter.
• They were
trying to get him out by pitching him on the inside part of the plate.
This is what
can happen to a pull hitter - they can be easily defensed. Darryl was basically
a pull hitter, but he had a lot more success when he used the whole field.
Dave Hudgens played in the big leagues and experienced the same thing. He says,
“Looking back on my playing career, because I had a lot of power, I too became
too much of a pull hitter. This means that being a left handed hitter, I hit the
ball to right field quite often. So consequently I made a living of hitting
ground ball outs to second base on the outside pitch. I did not learn until
later in my career that there was something called left field, and there is a
lot of money over there. Had I learned earlier in my career to hit the
outside pitch to the opposite field, I would have been a much more
BALL TO THE OPPOSITE FIELD
To hit the
ball to the opposite field:
• Get a
pitch on the outside part of the plate
• Hit the
ball deeper in the contact zone
• Keep the
barrel of the bat above your hands
inside the ball
hitters have the ability to pull the ball. However, to be a complete hitter and
on your way to being a master hitter, you must develop the ability to hit the
ball to the opposite field. One of the reasons that young hitters have a
difficult time hitting the ball to the opposite field is that coaches are always
telling them to pull the ball and to hit the ball way out in front. In order to
handle the ball on the outside part of the plate, you must wait for the ball to
get deeper into the zone. Contact for the outside pitch should be made even with
the front foot or slightly deeper. You will find that this will help you to hit
the curve ball as well.
may show the pitcher where your strengths and weaknesses are. For example
handed hitter that stands off the plate in a closed stance and strides towards
the plate is going to handle the ball on the outside part of the plate better
than the inside pitch. His weakness would be the inside part of the plate. This
is opposed to a right handed hitter who has an open stance, and stays open on
his stride - his strength will be the inside pitch. His weakness will be the
ball on the outside part of the plate. This holds for left handed hitters as
well. This is why I recommend that no matter how you stand at the plate, when
your stride foot comes down, you should be at a parallel stance. Some
hitters have to use the open or closed stance because of flaws in their
approach. If you are one of these hitters, make sure that you are disciplined
enough to swing at the pitches you can handle (your strengths) and do not swing
at the ball in your weak area until you get two strikes.
AREAS OF THE
examine areas of the zone that you may be pitched. If you are being pitched
inside, and you are looking inside, you will want to hit this particular
pitch to the pull side of the field. f you are being pitched middle away,
look to go to the opposite field.
A key point
here, and many Major League hitters do this, is to look for the pitch down the
middle. By doing this, it is easier for you to adjust off the ball down the
middle, than it is looking on the extreme outside or the extreme inside.
There will be times when you will look inside or outside. For example, if
a pitcher consistently throws you on the outside part of the plate, it is
to your advantage to look on the outside part of the plate and hit the ball to
the opposite field. If this is the case, you need to let the pitch on the
extreme inside go.
If you feel
the pitcher is trying to work you outside, then look outside. Do the same with
league pitchers do not have great control yet, so it is best to look middle.
However, at the high school level or above, the pitchers are starting to gain
A point to
remember is that you can look outside and still have a chance to hit the inside
pitch, but if you look inside, you will have virtually no chance to hit the
sound complicated and as if it were for advanced hitters only, however, all
young hitters should start to learn how to use the whole field and to look for
pitches in different areas. The chart picture illustrates the areas of
the strike zone. Take note of where the high averages are. Find the area
that you hit best.
Jordan Hudgens is the Instructional Coordinator
for Hitting.com. Hitting.com is the home of Major League Hitting Coach Dave Hudgens.