Hitting

May 20, 2013
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Why do some teams struggle so badly with runners in scoring position? One big factor is confidence. Of course, confidence comes with success, so it is one of those never-ending quandaries. How can you be successful if you have no confidence? Here is where the hitting instructor comes in if it is a major league team. There are a handful of those out there that always seem to have the right approach. St. Louis Cardinals come to mind, and it seems to carry on year after year. I think the right approach is contact hitting, but most big league reporters will tell you this is hard to sell. Baseball managers do not pay the big bucks for singles, so batters swing for the fences. When they do this, they tend to take long swings which usually lead to holes in the batter’s swing and more times then not they make poor contact or none at all. Cincinnati has fought this a lot so far this season. Jay Bruce is a prime example. He has a looped swing, so if a pitcher has good control he throws the ball away from his bat’s arc, and thus, little contact. If you miss that spot, however, Bruce can hit it as far as anybody. If a manager has earned a lot of respect through repeated winning, he will be able to convince his players they can help the team win this way and wait for the home runs in other situations. Tony La Russa had this at St. Louis, and few players dared to go against him. If they did, they usually were shipped to another team. Shortening up on the swing usually results in better contact, also. The size of the ballpark plays a role as well. When the fences are close, most guys think they can reach it–so again the big swing.

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