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Swing Smarter's The Dugout, Issue #018 -- How to Guess Pitches: SECRETS from a Legend
May 14, 2010
Hi,

Welcome to The Dugout, "Hitting Baseballs from the Neck Up" Here's what to expect from this month's issue...

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction to this Month's Issue
  2. On Deck for Next Month's The Dugout
  3. Please Share the Wealth
  4. This Issue's Heart of the Line-Up
  5. Hitting Zen
  6. Future Happenings @ SwingSmarter.com


INTRODUCTION TO THIS MONTH'S ISSUE...

(Whole article word count is 2,852 with an average reading time of 11 minutes & 30 seconds)

Issue #018 is a real treat...we're sending our Series on Winning to the DL indefinitely, and delving right into a Ted Williams inspired how to "guess" along with the pitcher and be right most of the time piece. No system is perfect, but the more at-bats we get practicing this hidden skill of the best veteran hitters in the game today and of yester-year, the higher our batting average, OBP, SLUG, Runs, and RBI's will be.

Let the truth be known, young hitters seem to be more physical with their swings, and as they mature, they gain more perspective on the mental side...they have to because there are more up-and-coming young bucks with faster reflexes looking to take their spot. So, we always hear the "I wish I knew this stuff when I was younger" reflexive language.

This issue is worth its weight in gold, so take heed this month and not turn a blind ear or eyeball...this article comes from Ted Williams talking about critical mental elements of the game in The Science of Hitting, authored by him and John Underwood.

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ON DECK FOR NEXT MONTH'S THE DUGOUT...

We're going to take a complete break from the WINNING Series and look into one of the hottest young hitters in the game today, Evan Longoria, and what his vital mental approach to hitting is.

He grew up without much, and had to prove himself at every level...it never came easy to him, but if you see him play today, you'd think it does. He's known for his Jedi Mind Tricks at the plate, and that's what we're going to look at...how one can prepare their the stuff between the ears to hit at the next level. This next issue of The Dugout is going to be a monster of an article!

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PLEASE SHARE THE WEALTH...

If you find The Dugout, "Hitting Baseballs from the Neck Up" interesting to pass onto your friends, please do, we'd greatly appreciate it. The more people we can get to tune in every month, the better, so please spread the love to your teammates, players, and best friends...and hope your competitors don't find us. ;)

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The Dugout: Hitting Baseballs from the Neck Up eZine

Let's get started with this month's issue, shall we...

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THE ISSUE'S HEART OF THE LINE-UP...

Ted Williams Hitting

(This section is 1,329 words with an average read time of 5 minutes and 30 seconds)

As I was writing a new article on Ted Williams for SwingSmarter.com last week, I revisited one of my favorite books self entitled The Bible of Hitting, and I'm sure The Lord would agree ;) You can view the article here: Discover Ted Williams & His Everlasting Legacy of Hitting Knowledge

Ted famously said, "If God came down from the Heavens above, even He couldn't throw a fastball by me." :P

While I was reading back through The Science of Hitting, which I hadn't picked up btw since my Sophomore year in high school (I'm almost 30 now), I noticed some new information I hadn't paid too much attention to before on the mental part of the game...thanks, in part, to the fact I was young, dumb, and full of dumber!

Ted Williams shares some pretty elementary principals to the mental part of hitting I must've tossed aside as trivial, but looking back, makes all the sense in the world, and the sooner we adopt them, the better hitter we'll be, I guarantee it!

Every outstanding hitter today uses these handy mental tools, even Barry Bonds, steroids aside, said during his record breaking season, he knew what the pitcher was going to throw him before stepping up to the plate.

The following simple forula, if honed, will help us to do just that...

He had three easy rules for successful hitting:

  • Get a good ball to hit,
  • Proper thinking, and
  • Be quick with the bat.

Mr. Williams said Proper Thinking is 50% of hitting, so I think this proves vital for our swings, don'cha think?

Let's jump right into the start of a Swing Smarter revelation shall we...?

The Value of Knowing the Strike-zone
Ted Williams' number one rule for cutting down on strikeouts, improving every important offensive category any stat-head keeps books on, and to get more meaty pitches to hit is knowing the strike-zone.

Notice how I said knowing "the" strike-zone, NOT knowing "your" strike-zone? The better we are at laying off bad pitches, two things happen with the pitcher, he'll either:

  1. Give you better pitches to hit, OR
  2. Pitch around you, in which case, will depend on the meatball hitting behind you.

Babe Ruth got more good pitches to hit because he had Lou Gehrig hitting behind him, both Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle? Not so good a hitter behind them, so they drew a lot of walks, quite a few of them intentional with the bases loaded!

If we're caught in the same trap, then we have to be super disciplined at the plate and not fish at bad pitches, take the walk over getting ourselves out, this is EXTREMELY important.

A Fool's Errand
If a pitch fools you with less than 2 strikes, then TAKE IT!! Here's another article we did on SwingSmarter.com about a tough Williams-esk plate discipline approach to Proper Thinking at the plate. I learned this system at State my last year under 2008 National Champions coach Mike Batesole, and I'm sure you could all see my reaction coming, "I wish I would've learned it sooner."

It's not so much that we're "guessing" pitches, in as much as we're "anticipating." We're studying scouting reports, prior history with the pitcher, what he last got us out on, what pitches are working for/against him today, are there runners on base, and the count to devise a strategy on "guessing" right.

If he doesn't throw the pitch in the location we're looking for with 0 or 1 strike, then TAKE IT.

Don't Argue with Umpires
Two reasons why:

  1. Umpires rarely reverse a count call, so in other words, you can't do anything about it, AND
  2. Most times than not, they're NOT that far wrong a majority of the time anyway.

Most umpires are good at calling a pitch within 1 inch of where it really is, if they're a tad bit "wrong." Don't fight it, learn from the call, and move on. The more we spend precious mental energy on a bad call, the worse spiral we'll be in the next pitch or at-bat. Let it go!

Know your Limitations and Strengths
Pinpoint on a strike-zone diagram where your trouble areas are. Every hitter has them, for some low and outside, others up and in, and still another may have trouble with down and in. Know what your limitations are and work on them because as the game speeds up and pitchers get better at locating, God knows those areas will get exploited.

Our strengths will take care of themselves...most of the time our body just reacts the "right way" to areas of the strike-zone we hit well, so like a worried parent has to let go of their 18 year old off to college, so yee have a little faith, our strengths will be fine on their own.

Ted's Thoughts on Guessing, or "Anticipating"
Reviewing some of the factors from above on how to anticipate pitches, we study:

  • Scouting reports,
  • Prior history with the pitcher,
  • What he got us out on last,
  • What pitches are working for/against him today,
  • What our weaknesses are as a hitter,
  • Runners on base and are they in scoring position, and
  • The Count (we're NOT talking Sesame Street here ;)

We may not have access to scouting reports until college or pro ball, but all the other stuff we can observe or chart on a given day.

If a pitcher throws a good curve and a fastball but can't get the curve over the plate today, then we'd be an idiot to look for it. I apologize in advance, but Ted Williams agrees, pitchers are stubborn beings, and they most always go back to the pitch they got a hitter out on, so look for it the next time they get ahead in the count.

Always know for sure which pitch the pitcher got you out on...if I asked you after a fly out what pitch that was, and you responded "I dunno," I'd be hot, and I know Teddy Ballgame would be too. Learn to recognize pitches, not too many hitters have success swinging by the seat of their pants.

Ryan Howard may be the exception to the rule, but because he's not as disciplined at the plate, he's going to nearly lead the league in strikeouts every year.

Good counts to expect a fastball in most of the time are: 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-1, and 3-2. Bad hitter counts to expect something other than a fastball or something out of the strike-zone: 0-1, 0-2, 1-1, 1-2, and 2-2.

Remember, the better we know the strike-zone, the more close to the plate we'll see pitches. The more likely we swing at balls out of the zone, the more likely we won't see anything good to hit...and what was Ted Williams' first rule of hitting successfully from above?

Get a good pitch to hit.

Yes, sometimes we'll come across a pitcher that defies all logic, but they're few and far between. We're talking a pitcher with tremendous placement and pinpoint control. There aren't that many in the Big Leagues even today (Greg Maddox was one)...in The Science of Hitting, Ted Williams named three pitchers (one was Ted Lyons) in his day that he couldn't guess on...in which case, we have to hit what we see.

How can we hone the skill of guessing pitches? You might have guessed it, repetition, and start early.

The reason Ted was so good at guessing was because he had access to mentors who shared the information with him at an early age. He was able to sharpen his mental sword at the plate early. It's never too late, but if we can get to work earlier, then when the game speeds up, we'll be ready for it.

The mental part of the hitting is what separates men from the boys, and unfortunately for me, I didn't get it until my last year in college, and by then it was too late, so my hopes is to get it to you, so you can learn from me and push further up the competitive ladder. It also isn't easy, and will take plenty of trial and error, that's why I say start earlier than later. Eventually we'll get to a reference point where our mental game gets put on Jedi auto pilot!

Stay tuned next week as we look at how Evan Longoria does to prepare himself mentally before games.

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HITTING ZEN

This is one of two overhauls to The Dugout eZine...we've changed this section to reflect tips to being a more calm and collected hitter, enjoy!

"Letting Go of Attachments to Outcomes"
(An excerpt from a guest post on ZenHabits.net by Lori Deschene of TinyBuddha.com)

These are gold nuggets to hitting consistently well...yeah, she's talking about life, but these principals are like PB&J with what we're trying to do with the mental parts of our swings.

Practice letting things be. That doesn’t mean you can’t actively work to create a different tomorrow. It just means you make peace with the moment as it is, without worrying that something’s wrong with you or your life, and then operate from a place of acceptance.

Question your attachment. If you’re attached to a specific outcome—a dream job, the perfect relationship—you may be indulging an illusion about some day when everything will be lined up for happiness. No moment will ever be worthier of your joy than now because that’s all there ever is.

Release the need to know. Life entails uncertainty, no matter how strong your intention. Obsessing about tomorrow wastes your life because there will always be a tomorrow on the horizon. There are no guarantees about how it will play out. Just know it hinges on how well you live today.

Serve your purpose now. You don’t need to have x-amount of money in the bank to live a meaningful life right now. Figure out what matters to you, and fill pockets of time indulging it. Audition for community theater. Volunteer with animals. Whatever you love, do it. Don’t wait—do it now.

Teach others. It’s human nature to hope for things in the future. Even the most enlightened people fall into the habit from time to time. Remind yourself to stay open to possibilities by sharing the idea with other people. Blog about it. Talk about it. Tweet about it. Opening up helps keep you open.

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FUTURE HAPPENINGS @ SWINGSMARTER.com

We put to bed the old tired "Heads up! Concern of the Month," because we wanted to be more offensive than defensive in The Dugout, so we figured letting you guys in, before anyone else, on the behind-the-scenes of what's coming up at SwingSmarter.com would be a better value for our most prized readers.

What's coming up at SwingSmarter.com?

Well for starters, as many of you noticed, we launched TheStartingLineupStore.com (or TSL for shorts), "The 9 BEST Baseball Hitting Aids on the Planet" in March of 2010 and saw a greater than expected return...we sold almost $1,600 worth of Swing Smarter hitting aids in the first 5 weeks! We're very grateful for that, and hope more people leave the old tired online free-for-all hitting aid store stories pushing tools that don't work. With all your help and our research (blood, sweat, and tears) we've put together an experience on the net unseen by most, so please check it out below if you haven't already.

Also, TheBestStarting9.com is part of The Starting Lineup, and is a place where we welcome people to challenge the current top hitting aids because NO spot is sacred and is open to be won by another stronger better hitting gadget.

What projects are in the works at SwingSmarter.com?

Recently, my wife completed her Masters at Fresno State, finished an unpaid 6 month internship, and 4 months of submitting resumes (more NO pay), she finally landed a job and now we have two incomes! We're so very grateful to you guys for the awesome feedback, money you may have donated, and/or hitting aids you might have purchased; made it all possible for me to cut down on one of my three jobs to focus more on doing what I love most...training and writing helpful content for SwingSmarter.com. A thousands bro-mance hugs to all of you!

For 2010, I'm currently working on a top secret eBook in the coming months, a hitting aid of our own, a bat speed increasing hitting DVD like no other, and an App for the iPhone I just wish I could let out of the bag, but I'm afeared one of you crazy devils would steal my idea :P lol.

We've made lots of HUGE connections that will bring only the best to our most crazed fans, some cool interviews on hitting from big names, etc. that may be free or will be included as bonuses to some of the projects above. ;) Also, speaking of bonuses, we've included 5 free bonus footages which will knock your socks off with the purchase of at least one hitting aid from TSL (They're all outlined at TheBestStarting9.com under the "About Us" link).

So stay tuned, I think this announcement thing will be here to stay, so you guys get cutting edge news before "it" hits the fan. I wish you all the Swing Smarter love and luck in the coming Summer Ball months! Please subscribe to the Swing Smarter RSS feed, if you haven't already, to stay up to the minute on new happenings at Swing Smarter dot com, Subscribe to My Feed Here.

Thank you for joining us, and if you liked what you read today, please Submit a Testimonial about The Dugout eZine, so future readers can make a good decision to join our monthly meeting community. Your feedback is very much appreciated=-)

Swing Smarter NOT Harder,
Joey Myers
Swing Smarter Baseball Hitting Drills.com

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P.S. Wondering which baseball hitting aids are worth their weight in gold? Frustrated scowering the internet for over-hyped highly endorsed swing gadgets NOT doing a darn thing for your swing?

Swing Smarter and FOWL Ball's The Starting Lineup store is just what the baseball world is looking for...it's where we can find the "9 best baseball hitting aids on the planet."

It takes a lot for a hitting gadget to crack The Starting Lineup, because there are only 9 spots available.

Unfortunately, they aren't cheap AND some require a hefty investment...however, everyone knows we get what we pay for. If we purchase cheap baseball hitting aids, then we'll get cheap results; and if we're a seeker of non-quality non-functional products, then we'd highly recommend NOT visiting The Best Starting 9 today. Junk in, means junk out.

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