The Story of 4 Million Pitches

What you can learn from a recent Boston University study on balls and strikes.

Baseball is back, and with it comes the familiar sight of umpires making bad calls. If you’ve been watching college baseball, you’re already used to it for this year.

Essentially, the study found that umpires make bad calls around 12% of the time and when the batter has two strikes, that ratio jumps to 29%.

We already know that umpires make bad calls so what can we learn from this? For everyone not in the MLB, we’re going to have to wait a pretty long while for robotic strike calling machines, so we’re going to do our best to learn a lesson.

A coach told me one time, the same way I go to sleep dreaming of hitting home runs, umpires go to sleep thinking of ringing guys up. Now from this data, I know for a fact it’s true.

Look at the chart. This is from a Boston, Toronto game in 2010. What do you see? I see missed calls on either side of the plate – not so much up and down.

I can imagine that the missed calls were probably on the outer half (depending on whether a righty or lefty was hitting). This tells me another thing I already know – umpires expand the zone on the outer half more times then not – especially with two strikes.

What what can you do with this new information (besides get mad at umpires)? You can learn that you should never strike out on an outside pitch. THEY WILL CALL IT IF IT’S CLOSE!!!


The Conversation – An analysis of nearly 4 million pitches shows just how many mistakes umpires make

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5 Things to do at Home to Train for the Field

So you don’t want to play baseball year round but you don’t want to come back rusty…

So you don’t want to play baseball year round but you don’t want to come back rusty…

Well here’s five ways you can train without even stepping on a field.

1. Wall Ball or “Butts Up”

A wall and a tennis ball… that’s all you need.  You can either do this as a serious drill, or as a game with your friends.


Throw the ball against the wall and try to get yourself some short hops.  Work on picking the ball with one hand.  You can do this to work on footwork or to work on soft hands.

Two Methods

  1. Don’t move your feet – work on seeing the ball into your hand.  When you don’t move your feet, it requires your hands to work better – if your footwork is good, you’ll always get the good hop so don’t use your feet and work on those tough hops.
  2. Move your feet – You should never get a bad hop.  Come through the ball and get that short hop.

A Game with Your Friends

Even though it’s just a game, you work on your footwork and your soft hands.  Also, to win, you have to have an accurate arm to give your opponents a tough ball to field so you’ll also be working on your throwing accuracy.

A fun way to work on the two most important things for a young ball player – the ability to catch and throw the ball.

2. Go to the Batting Cage

It’s the off season… your time away from baseball.  You don’t have to go three times a week.  But taking a long time away from hitting can have negative consequences.

Go to the batting cage once every week or two and just hit until your swing feels good.  That way, when you come back you don’t feel so rusty.

If you want to be proactive, find one thing to work on and ONLY think about that one thing for the whole off season so when you come back you feel stronger then when you left.

3. Play Catch/ Long Toss/ Work on Arm Strength

Whenever you have free time, go outside and play some catch.  It will help your arm strength and durability… not throwing for a long time and jumping back into it right away can have negative effects.

Keep working on your arm health…  If you’re a pitcher, taking time off definitely helps.  But you can be proactive in your time off, do arm care exercises.

Here’s a video with Angel’s pitch Garrett Richards on long toss

4. Work on your Speed

This doesn’t even have to be extra work!  If you’re playing another sport, whenever you do speed or agility workouts, just remember – speed translates to the baseball field.

Work extra hard when you do these workouts because it’s not just for the sport you’re training for – it’s for ALL the sports you play.

If you don’t play another sport, here’s an exercise you can do every day.

5. Ball Recognition Drills

Pitch recognition is one of the hardest things to learn in baseball.  Usually the best way to practice is by playing or by taking batting practice with someone throwing multiple pitches.

Since you’re in your off season, you don’t want to hit too much so here’s a way to keep your vision sharp without tons of batting practice.

The video below shows how using different colored balls can help…

You can take this to the batting cage or you can just do it at home.  You don’t need to go out and buy new balls.  Instead, grab two sharpies and make big different colored marks on each ball.

Have someone softly toss you the balls from not too far away and have them tell you which one to catch.


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Road Trip from Maryland to Southern California

Summer ball is coming to a close, for me, that means planning for the road trip home.  I have a few things planned, but it doesn’t seem like it’s enough.  Since this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, I want it to be planned out well.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to go across the country and you don’t have a time limit, I suggest driving.  There are plenty of people who do it just for fun, why not turn your trip from just an expense, into an experience??? This post is for people who are looking for some pointers on things they should do, I won’t experience it all, but if you’re reading this and want a few pointers on how you should plan your trip, go ahead and contact me and I’ll help you out.

As of right now, this is my road map –

Road Trip map

I am driving with a buddy who lives near San Francisco so we mapped out the route we would take if we were going to his house as well as to my house.  I found that the road through Colorado, Utah and Las Vegas looks a lot more fun than the road through Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

We are starting in Gaithersburg, MD and our first stop is at a friend’s house in Chicago.  I don’t have all the nearby baseball fields mapped out, only the ones who are home when we are driving though.  The first one is PnC Park.  From there we are going straight to Chicago, in Chicago you have the White Sox and the Cubs, along with a lot of other things to do…  You are also passing relatively close to Cleveland so you could go to a Cavs game.

From Chicago, the road through Iowa and Arkansas is pretty boring, I have the Field of Dreams, a matchstick museum and a small $20 zoo planned out if we want to do anything during that time.  The green dot is a camp ground, my buddy and I will have a tent and a grill, so we’ll be camping out a couple of our days.


From our stop in Arkansas, we are going to Denver to catch a Rockies game and found a $30 hotel (sketchy, I know, we might change our minds about that one) to sleep and shower.  From there, the three walking men are three hikes I have planned out.  Below are links to all three in order from east to west on the map –

Blue Lakes Trail

North Fork of Mill Creek

Zion Narrows Riverside Walk

I’m most excited for Blue Lakes Trail.  It is a three mile hike to a lake hidden away by mountains.  It looks beautiful.

From Colorado, we are going to Las Vegas where we will spend a night, then home. All in all, it will be a great time.  I’m sure on the way we will find more places to stop, and I’ll post an updated map of what we actually did.