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.

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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!!!


Credits:

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.

Drill

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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Hope this helped.  If you like my articles follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Articles:

What College Coaches Look For

5 Tips for Players Looking for a Scholarship

Does Position Matter to College Scouts?

Bethesda Big Train Summer Collegiate Team

The Bethesda Big Train has had a ton of success over their 20 year lifetime for good purpose…

Bethesda, Maryland was where I spent my 2017 summer playing for the Big Train.  I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the team or the organization.  That being said, it was probably the team’s best year to date, we won the league championship and ended up ranked the #1 summer collegiate team.

big train hitting 1They don’t have any trouble housing or feeding players.  I spent the summer with my college roommate in a spacious basement hosted by an incredible family.  Big Train also spared no expense to feed the players.  We had a Whole Foods meal before every game and got fed after every game as well – probably the best you will be treated outside of the Cape.

Not only was the team good, the Cal Ripken League was impressive as well.  The majority of teams were filled with Division 1 ball players so the pitching and hitting were both good.

This summer (2018), the Big Train and their rival The Baltimore Red Birds were co-champions due to poor weather conditions.  The series was split, a game each but unfortunately they were unable to get the final game in.big train fielding

I’m proud to have played for the Big Train and if you have the opportunity to play for them I highly recommend it.

Notable Alumni

Click the link to see the impressive list of Big Train Alumni.

 

Why is the Big Train Successful?

Big Train treats their players right.  You go back to college and when your coach asks you how your summer was, you tell him it was great.  Not only that, you tell him the league is pretty damn good too.

You tell your coach you faced good competition, they fed you well, you got a free gym membership for the month, and you had a great time.  In return for Big Train’s great hospitality, your college coach sends his best guys every summer.

Fortunately for the Big Train they pull in 400-500 fans per game so they get good revenue from the tickets and have a great sponsors.  This allows them to do the great things they do for the players and still make enough money to bring in a profit.  They really have the business down pat.

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Related Articles:

Road Trip from Bethesda, MD to Long Beach, CA

Summer Ball for High School Grads in CA

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First Pitch Strikes

Why does throwing a first pitch strike shift the statistics so far in the pitchers favor? I think it’s all mental.

We’ve all been told to throw first pitch strikes and we know the odds are more in our favor if we do so, but why?  Why is an 0-1 fastball outside more effective then the same pitch in a 1-0 count?

The Stats

  • 92.7% of first pitch strikes lead to outs
  • 69% of strikeouts start with first pitch strikes

I could go even deeper into the statistics but those tell the story.  Pitchers are FAR more productive when they get the first pitch strike.

No More Stats.

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Melissa Wall – Off the Wall Photography

I’m not going to talk ground ball/ fly ball statistics, average exit velo or swing and miss % after first pitch ball or first pitch strike……  I’m going to talk about the mental side of the whole thing.

There will be little hard evidence to support my claims so feel free to comment if if you agree or disagree.

 

Mental Game

So we know that hitters are worse off in pitchers counts.  But why?  Do pitchers always throw more quality pitches when they’re ahead in the count?

The short answer is no.

What does happen is pitchers gain confidence and hitters lose confidence.

 

When a pitcher gains confidence a few things happen mentally:

  • You feel like you can throw any of your pitches effectively
    • You don’t have to worry as much if you have trouble controlling your off speed.
  • You feel more comfortable flirting with the black on your next pitch.
  • You whole body loosens up because you don’t have to worry about going down 2-0
    • Looser body = more velocity & movement.

Conversely, a few things happen in the hitters head:

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Melissa Wall – Off the Wall Photography

 

 

  • You’re less sure of what the pitcher will throw next.
    • 1-0 you know the pitcher is going to do everything in his power to throw a strike, and depending on his tenancies, you might even know what PITCH is coming.
    • 0-1, his tenancies almost fly out the window – you might know what he usually throws 0-1, but since he’s ahead he can do whatever he wants.
  • Some batters at this point feel pressured to get bat on the ball at anything in the strike zone – they don’t want to go down 0-2
    • A batter ahead in the count can watch a curve ball go by, even if it’s a strike in search of a better pitch to hit.
  • The pressure of the at bat builds against their favor
    • This creates tension in the muscles.  Tension takes a huge toll on bat speed and on the efficiency of a person’s decision making process.

 

Mental Changes are Magnified in Youth Players

I have absolutely no statistics to back the claim I’m about to make, but I think it’s safe to say that these confidence changes take a bigger effect on youth ball players.

Youth players aren’t as used to the failures that come with every single baseball game.  To some kids, giving up a hit can be the end of the world.  To a seasoned veteran, giving up a hit is just a part of the game and has little or no effect on him.

If the fate of the world rides on each and every batter, then getting that first pitch strike takes a huge weight off the pitcher’s shoulders and delicately places it right back on to the batter’s shoulders.

No matter what the pitcher is throwing; whether it’s a fastball, slider, curveball, change up mix or a fastball changeup mix – once that first strike has been thrown, the pressure has been shifted to the batter.  That alone can change the outcome without even mentioning the other things taking place in both the batter and pitcher’s minds.

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Source: Weinstein Baseball

Hope this helped.  If you like my articles follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Articles:

What College Coaches Look For

5 Tips for Players Looking for a Scholarship

Does Position Matter to College Scouts?

Silverback Sports Ballistic Hitting Ball Set

Check out these training tools provided by Brighter Baseball Skills.

You want to hit the ball farther… but how?  Strengthen your legs, arms, back, forearms… etc, etc, etc…

(LINKS TO THESE PRODUCTS ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST)

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Melissa Wall – Off the Wall Photography

To me, it’s always made sense that hitting heavier balls would give me the strength to hit the regular balls harder!  If I can hit a heavy ball feet, then a regular ball will go feet!

 

With a proper swing, the player will feel the right muscles working.  After 10 reps on each side, the player should feel soreness in his/ her:

  • Legs
  • Butt
  • Core
  • Back
  • Forearms

It should be a total body workout – working the muscles you use to hit a ball.  No more, no less.

Do not Overuse

Just with any workout, it is advised not to over train with the balls.  Make sure you’re not swinging a ‘tired’ bat.  Quality swings are a must.  If you allow yourself to swing when you’re tired you can create bad habits.  So consistent use every day is much more effective than trying to get all your swings in at the same time.

Pair Heavy Balls with a Heavy Training Bat

Heavy training bats go hand in hand with heavy balls.  If you can swing a heavy bat quickly, you can swing a normal bat even faster.  Of course, you can also train using under weight bats.

Here is a video of Bryce Harper before he was in the MLB using a 40 oz. bat.

Brighter Baseball Skills has a selection on FollowThru Training Bats

28 inch – 33 ounce

28 inch – 36 ounce

30 inch – 38 ounce

30 inch – 40 ounce

32 inch – 41 ounce

32 inch – 43 ounce

 

Get exactly what you want out of your workout!

Try the Silverback Sports Ballistic Hitting Ball Set and one of the FollowThru Training Bats!

Sold by Brighter Baseball Skills

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Ekiti Kete Little League Baseball Story

A little league team in Nigeria needs your help and all you need to send is one item you don’t use anymore.

1989

Little league baseball makes its way to Nigeria as a charitable organization.

2004

Ado-Ekiti Little League Baseball and Softball was charted in Williamsport as an official little league team, recognized by the little league organization around the world (ID #00169999).  Very soon after, participation died out due to a lack of supplies.

Players and coaches had to make gloves, balls and bats themselves.

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2016

A man by the name Aina Sunday Oluwafemi with the help of parents in the area brought the league back together under the name Ekiti Kete Little League (ID #309060).  The league has been doing well since, due to the fact that it got a lot of attention in the recent Little League World Series and as a result, got a lot of donations (but not nearly enough).

Oluwafemi is a parent, coach AND umpire for the little league.

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About 2 months ago, the official Little League Facebook page posted this video.  If you skip to 10:00 the president and CEO of Little League International, Stephen Keener begins talking about the boy, Fagbenro Adeeri Philip, who had to make his own glove.

Here’s How You Can Help

Oluwafemi asked for just about any help he can get;

“I want to use this medium to ask for new, gently worn and used baseball and softball apparel, uniform, proper cleats, athletic shoes, training shoes, running shoes, SCHOOL SUPPLIES, SCHOOL SHOES, SCHOOL CLOTHES, instructional books, audiovisual tape, umpire kits and equipment to promote the most prestigious and favorite America game and to keep kids, children out of trouble, off the streets and offer positive after school opportunities in my local community.”

Notice he never asked for money which is why I was so willing to spend the time to write this article.  Oluwafemi clearly just wants to help his community.

There’s nothing in it for himself yet he spent the time to contact me (and from what I’ve heard, others too) and provide me with every single detail of the league’s story.  He provided me with pictures, videos and a complete story of the history of the league.

If you would like to help I will provide the address line at the bottom of this post.

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Ekiti Kete Little League Baseball and Softball
94, Kajola Street,
Off Oluyemi Kayode Stadium Road,
Ado-Ekiti,
Ekiti State,
Nigeria
Anything helps, no matter how large or small!
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King of the Hill for Pitchers and Hitters

The King of the Hill helps players understand what it feels like to use their drive leg.

What is it?

The King of the Hill is a training tool that audibly lets you know when you are driving through the mound (pitching) or through your back foot (hitting).

Watch the video below to see how it works.

 

It’s not Just for Pitchers!

I personally saw this product for the first time last year at my college and I didn’t see it on a mound – I saw it in the batting cage.

I personally loved this product and would recommend it to any players who are having trouble understanding what it feels like to use your drive leg correctly in the batters box or on the mound.

Since I used the King of the Hill, a new product has come out called The King of the Swing which has a different piece in place of the rubber which is better for hitters.  If you want to get the most out of the product, I suggest the King of the Hill as it can be used for both pitching and hitting.

Brighter Baseball Skills

If you are interested in the website click here to be directed to brighterbaseballskills.com.

Also check out the King of the Hill Pro which functions the same as the King of the Hill but has a couple key upgrades:

  • Genuine rubber used on MLB fields
  • The contact surface is more compatible with cleats

The King of the Hill is used by 24 Major League Teams today.