CSB: Pitch Counts and Sequences
Pitch Sequencing is one of the true arts of baseball. Whether using pure power or a finesse approach, the way a pitcher decides to attack the hitter can be the difference between a great or poor performance. This is one of the final techniques most professional pitchers need to master before being ready for the Major League level.
I want to start off by saying there isn't a one size fits approach when it comes to pitch sequencing . There are so many different ways to pitch and be successful. What I will say is that the most important factor in pitch calling decisions is to know your greatest strength.
The first step I'd like to see pitchers do is decide what kind of pitcher they are. A power pitcher? Finesse pitcher? Sinker Baller? I'm not saying that this identity can never change, but by identifying what your strength is, and being honest with yourself, makes you a better pitcher. So once you have that now we can get started.
The most important part of pitching is GETTING AHEAD in the count. Any coach will tell you that the most important part of pitching is getting into pitcher's counts. These counts include; 0-1, 1-2, 0-2.. These are the attractive counts that all pitchers thrive in. It makes pitching must easier and hitter's averages dramatically decline in these situations. What makes these counts so advantageous are the options that the pitcher has. He can throw whatever he wants which makes it much harder for the hitter to narrow down possible pitches to look for. All I have to say about these counts is to throw your best strike out pitch. You have pitches to work with so missing out of the strike zone is ok.
Now what is the most important count for a pitcher? I'm sure many people would say a first pitch strike or the 0-0 count. Wrong.... It is actually the 1-1 count. The biggest disparity in batting averages based off balls and strikes comes from this pitch. To be in either a 2-1 or a 1-2 count, swings the hitters batting average by a whooping .087. NEARLY 100 POINTS! Where the different between 1-0 and 0-1 is .057. I
Especially at the lower levels I believe that in the 0-0 and 1-1 counts there should be a large percentage of fastballs. Also, occasionally trying to throw and off speed pitch for a strike for effect. The proportion of fastballs to off-speed pitches can change based on the pitchers style. Having a secondary pitch that can be thrown for strikes can add a lot of difficulty to hitting.
Another tip to increasing your chances of throwing strikes in these situations is dependent on the catcher. Not every pitch needs to be thrown on the outside corner or "on the black". What I advise is to tell the catcher to break the plate into 1/3's and sit on either the inside or outside 1/3. This gives the pitcher some breathing room to miss to either side of the target and be in the strike zone. Especially with no runners on base its important to pound the strike zone and make the hitters earn their runs.
To maximize your performance on the mound, it takes many factors. Remember to not forget these aspects of the game that are taught and focused on by few. It can be what sets you apart from your peers and take your game to the next level.
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