Monday, June 26th, 2017

Throw to the center of the plate

May 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Catching, Pitching

Tired of long games?  Sick of seeing pitchers nibble the corners and end up 2-0 to every batter?  If so, tell your catchers to set up right down the middle and knee high on every pitch until there are two strikes.  0-2 and 1-2, move to the corners.  If the count gets to 2-2, move back to the center of the plate.

“But coach, that’s pretty stupid.  If the pitcher throws to the center of the plate, he’ll make it easier for the hitter.”

In theory, you are correct.  But in reality, pitchers at the younger levels will virtually never put the ball exactly where they want the ball to go.  Even major league pitchers can struggle with that. 

When a younger pitcher throws to a corner, the following happens …

Plate1

He’ll probably miss the target (red arrow) to one side or the other by several inches.  As the photo shows, if he misses even one inch to the left it’s a ball.  If he misses to the right, the pitch moves to the center of the plate.  He basically has no room for error.  Now look at this photo …

Plate2

The pitcher can miss his target up to 8 inches to the left or right and it’s still a strike.  Maybe even up to 10 inches either way depending on the umpire.  Also, the more he misses the more the ball moves away from the center of the plate.

When a pitcher gets an 0-2 or 1-2 count, the catcher can set up on the corner like the first photo.  The pitcher just has to understand that if he misses the corner, he must miss away and not back over the plate.

In short, aim for the center of the plate and you have more room for error.  It may seem counter intuitive but the reality of young players’ abilities warrant this approach.

Unless, of course, you like spending 3 hours watching a baseball game.

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