Monday, September 25th, 2017

The hit-and-run and concentration

June 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Coaching

A big decision for all coaches is deciding which batters to hit-and-run with.  Most often, coaches will pick a batter with good bat control who generally hits the ball on the ground.  Other coaches would rather pick a guy who drives the ball well hoping that

Some non-traditional hitters may be the best hitters to hit-and-run with.

the runner can score on a ball hit in the gap.  There are other theories as well and all have merit.  Most coaches probably use a combination of all of them depending on the situation.

What most coaches avoid is giving the hit-and-run to a batter that is slumping and/or misses the ball a lot.  Obviously, you’d like a guy who puts the bat on the ball.  However, I have had a lot of success with putting the hit-and-run on with hitters that are sub par when it comes to putting the bat on the ball.  The reason is concentration.

The hit-and-run is a high-pressure situation in baseball.  The runner knows he has to get a good jump but also knows he cannot get picked off. The batter knows he has to protect the runner and put the pitch (no matter where it’s located) on the ground.  It’s a high stress play but amping up the stress usually increases the concentration of all involved as well.  This is why I am pretty liberal when it comes to deciding who to hit-and-run with.  A slumping player concentrates more on a hit-and-run because he knows what’s at stake.  A swing and miss hitter does the same.  Using these types of players also has the benefit of keeping their head in the game.

The worst part about being that hitter who is slumping or who currently has a very poor average is the fact that the player feels he is not contributing to the team.  I know.  I’ve been both of those hitters.  A weak ground ball usually adds to the frustration of the slump and/or bad average but when a hit-and-run is on, a weak ground ball works!  It actually helped the team.  When that occurs, the slumping hitter now has a bit more confidence (and a smile) which can be all the hitter needs to snap out of their slump.  The hitter with the poor average feels that he has finally done something to help the team.  

It’s understandable that coaches will pick the better hitters to pull off a hit-and-run but don’t discount the lesser hitters when choosing to put the play on.  They may surprise you.  It may even put them on a path to better hitting.

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