Great Hitting MAKES Great Pitching

rizzo and arrieta

I don’t intend to debate whether great pitching beats great hitting or visa versa. However, I will debate whether great hitting MAKES great pitching. October is a time for the best Major League pitchers to shine and show the world how dominant they can be against the best hitters in the world. I appreciate when a pitcher can shut down a prolific offense, but behind most great performances are hitters who should share in the pitcher’s success.

Every pitcher will agree that it is easier to pitch with a lead. Not only are pitchers more relaxed when they have offensive support, they also have more options when it comes to pitch selection and location.

In close games, even the best pitchers can become too conservative.  They become afraid to throw all their pitches, and they tend to nibble on the corners of the strike zone to avoid giving up the big hits that could be the difference in the game.  Frustration can also set in for pitchers when they don’t receive enough run support, leading to tension on the field and in the dugout.

Here’s what happens when hitters pick up their pitchers by scoring runs. Pitchers can…

  • relax and throw with more confidence. Confidence from pitchers becomes contagious for the rest of the team.
  • use all their pitches.  This will keep hitters guessing, instead of allowing them to “sit on” one particular pitch.
  • attack the strike zone early in the count to get ahead of opposing hitters. This will also reduce the overall pitch count, enabling pitchers to remain stronger and stay in the game longer.
  • throw unexpected pitches in non-typical situations, like a 3-1 change-up, instead of a fastball.  This will keep hitters off-balance.
  • rely on their defense to make plays, instead of trying to win the game on their own by striking everyone out. This promotes teamwork and also shortens the game.

I understand this is all easier said than done.  The trick is for hitters to generate enough runs early in the game to produce the benefits for pitchers I listed above. Here are three hitting strategies to take pressure off pitchers:

  • Focus on scoring runs early in the game by getting runners on base with base hits or walks…getting them over with well-placed hits, stolen bases, and bunts…and finally getting them in with clutch hits or sacrifices.
  • Learn power rotational hitting mechanics like the ones I have described in this blog. These mechanics are proven to increase bat speed, power, consistency, and will generate MORE RUNS. The teams I have worked who have adopted these hitting mechanics improved their scoring by an average of over two runs per game.  This increased run production can be lethal when combined with solid pitching.
  • Even the best baseball and softball pitchers will have bad innings periodically, so it is important to keep the scoring pressure on!  The objective of every offense should be to win by ten runs. Even though this goal is usually unattainable, every team should have the mentality of scoring early and often.

Casual observers of baseball and softball fail to recognize the close relationship between pitching and hitting. Not only can great hitting contribute to the success of the best pitchers, great pitching can have similar positive effects on hitters. Hitters can be more relaxed, more aggressive at the plate, and coaches can take more chances in critical offensive situations.

Pitchers and hitters combine for odd marriage, but it’s a relationship that works!