Batter Dummy?


#1

This Fall Ball I started to have my 9-year-old son throw his bullpens to a stand-in batter or (more often because usually no one was available to stand in) to a crude “batter dummy” I would make by putting an extended batting tee on top of an overturned ball bucket with a bat leaning against the bucket and a baseball cap on top of the tee.

Yes, I know, crude, but it sure seemed to work, as my son had a good Fall Ball on the mound.

Does anyone know of a good, inexpensive “batter dummy” for use as a stand-in batter during pitching practice?

I’ve looked online but have found only a very expensive one - $320!

I’m surprised there’s not a ton of these on the market.


#2

While I can’t see any great harm that it would do, I also don’t see any great good either. What I’m saying is, don’t give that “dummy” too much credit for you boy’s success, because it would be next to impossible to establish any kind of relationship between it and his success.


#3

I have to disagree with scorekeeper. I’ve worked with 9yr old beginning pitchers during the past 3 years and they have to get comfortable throwing with a batter in the box. Just like hitting, some are fantastic cage hitters but they bail out from fear when you go live. I made my own standing batter out of plywood.
Good luck!!


#4

While I agree it’s difficult to establish causation (B follows A therefore A caused B), my research into the matter suggests a general consensus that, while there are times, such as when working on a specific area of the delivery, when it is best not to have a stand in batter, there are also times when having a stand in batter - preferably a real person holding a bat - is the better practice.

I just found this old thread from this forum, where the practice seems to be accepted:
http://letstalkpitching.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=504

The Bullpen Buddy that Steve refers to in that old thread appears to be no longer available:
http://www.bullpenbuddy.com

All I can find is this $300 ripoff:
http://www.pitchingpractice.com/designatedhitter.html

With all the crap I’ve seen for sale in baseball catalogs (my all-time favorite is the parachute that you tie around a player’s waist so he can run around the outfield pulling the inflated parachute developing leg strength), I’m surprised there are no batting dummies for sale other than that outrageous $300 one.


#5

You don’t need a batting dummy, you just need a dummy brother that will stand in there as you drill him with a couple of pitches.

Ok, no brother, how about a kid from the neighborhood, works just fine.


#6

Yes, definitely get the bullpen buddy… just google “bullpen buddy” and you will find multiple places to purchase it for $49.95. We’ve had one for about 3 years now and it is a great tool to teach kids to pitch inside - no fear of hitting the dummy!


#7

Every website for the Bullpen Buddy says they’re out of stock.

This could be why: http://www.bullpenbuddy.com

Perhaps ebay has one.


#8

[quote=“keepitfun”]I have to disagree with scorekeeper. I’ve worked with 9yr old beginning pitchers during the past 3 years and they have to get comfortable throwing with a batter in the box. Just like hitting, some are fantastic cage hitters but they bail out from fear when you go live. I made my own standing batter out of plywood.
Good luck!![/quote]

You can disagree all you want, and I’m fine with it. The only thing I do, is try to come to grips with how for so many decades pitchers managed to make it to the ML without having ever been able to practice with a bull pen buddy or something like it.

Now if you’d have said you’ve broke the kids indiscriminately into two groups and had half throw with a “dummy” and half not, and the half that did showed a significant amount of whatever you were measuring to show they were more “comfortable”, I’d be much more inclined to believe it was a significant benefit.

I’m sorry I can’t be more positive than that, but I’ll tell ya, my boy started pitching at 9YO, never had anything like that, and managed to become a very successful pitcher. Personally, I think that what’s more important, is how a pitcher is taught to focus on his target. IMHO, if they’re focusing intently on the target, who’s in the batter’s box or what they’re doing, really doesn’t make a lot of difference.

Perhaps we can get Steve to weigh in on this one. I wasn’t a pitcher so I can only go by what my son and other pitchers I’ve worked with and talked to have told me.


#9

I agree with both of you:

keepitfun: I agree that using a standin batter can’t hurt if you got one!

scorekeeper: So many pitchers have not needed a target and have done just fine!

My comment, if your mechnics are solid enough, then you should be able to throw a strike without opening your eyes. When I play 10 with my pitching coach if one of us is ahead by more than 3, the last ball is done eyes closed. It’s just repetitve mechanics!


#10

Scorekeeper
I’m happy for your sons success and I agree that solid mechanics will always help. However there is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to 9 yr olds. I have never conducted research on two groups of pitchers but I have compared strike percentages with a stand in batter vs no batter and all pitchers would have a lower percentage some more than others. Just keep in mind they are 9 and learning and it can’t hurt.


#11

keepitfun

Your comments reinforce scorekeeper’s post, a pitchers mechanics shouldn’t change if you have a batter in the box or not, the ability to repeat mechanics no matter the situation is what makes a pitcher a pitcher.

I totally disagree with,

I don’t agree, unless with a batter you are trying to work around the zone and without you don’t mind sending one down the middle.


#12

When I was a little snip, I would get a catcher, and we would play a little game we called “ball and strike”, wherein the catcher would position his mitt in various places, high, low, inside, outside, every which way but standing on his head (:lol:!), and my job was to get the ball smack-dab into the pocket of that mitt. From time to time we would get someone to stand in the batter’s box, first on one side and then the other, so I could really zero in on the various parts of the strike zone (which in my day was a lot bigger than it is now). Not only was this a terrific way to sharpen up my control, it also gave me good practice in doing things like throwing outside the zone, just a bit, so the batter would see a pitch too good to take and would go after it—a strategy I learned from my pitching coach.
Some people will construct a wooden “bullpen buddy” or whatever one wants to call it, but I preferred a real live batter who would stand in the box with the bat and not be afraid to get jammed on inside pitches. There is nothing like the real thing, I always say. :slight_smile:


#13

OK. Ebay has Bullpen Buddies:

http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=bullpen+buddy&_sacat=See-All-Categories

Guess I’ll ask Santa for one (I asked jdfromfla but I don’t think he’ll get me one).


#14

buwhite
If you are going to quote me use my entire quote not just parts. I was referring to all the pitchers I worked with, not every 9 yr old pitcher in LL.
I also feel that focus and concentration are part of the mental side of pitching and not so much mechanics.


#15

[quote=“keepitfun”]Scorekeeper
I’m happy for your sons success and I agree that solid mechanics will always help. However there is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to 9 yr olds. I have never conducted research on two groups of pitchers but I have compared strike percentages with a stand in batter vs no batter and all pitchers would have a lower percentage some more than others. Just keep in mind they are 9 and learning and it can’t hurt.[/quote]

Correctamundo! There’s always more than one way to skin every cat.

Its great to have an umpire accessible for bull pens, isn’t it! The pitching coach my boy used had a deal with one of the local umpire assns, that they could send guys over to call B/Ss any time, and often we’d show up for a lesson and an umpire would be there. Those sessions always seemed much more productive because there was a lot of feedback. But I have to admit, I never saw anyone track pitch percentages during the lessons. Nice job!

You’re correct that it can’t, or at least shouldn’t hurt having one there. I just get very antsy when I hear about another “sure fire” piece of equipment that only costs … :wink:


#16

Umpires at your bullpen sessions? Wow, what a great arrangement for you both.

Correctamundo! There’s always more than one way to skin every cat.

Its great to have an umpire accessible for bull pens, isn’t it! The pitching coach my boy used had a deal with one of the local umpire assns, that they could send guys over to call B/Ss any time, and often we’d show up for a lesson and an umpire would be there. Those sessions always seemed much more productive because there was a lot of feedback. But I have to admit, I never saw anyone track pitch percentages during the lessons. Nice job!

You’re correct that it can’t, or at least shouldn’t hurt having one there. I just get very antsy when I hear about another “sure fire” piece of equipment that only costs … ;)[/quote]


#17

[quote=“keepitfun”]Umpires at your bullpen sessions? Wow, what a great arrangement for you both.

Correctamundo! There’s always more than one way to skin every cat.

Its great to have an umpire accessible for bull pens, isn’t it! The pitching coach my boy used had a deal with one of the local umpire assns, that they could send guys over to call B/Ss any time, and often we’d show up for a lesson and an umpire would be there. Those sessions always seemed much more productive because there was a lot of feedback. But I have to admit, I never saw anyone track pitch percentages during the lessons. Nice job!

You’re correct that it can’t, or at least shouldn’t hurt having one there. I just get very antsy when I hear about another “sure fire” piece of equipment that only costs … ;)[/quote][/quote]

Your post puzzles me. If it was just a mis-post with only the 1st 2 sentences that should have been posted, I’m not sure why you’d think that was so great. Didn’t you have umpires calling pitches? How else did you get strike percentages at them?


#18

Ok, here is your entire comment:

Which says that in your research you have found that "All pitchers would have a lower percentage some more than others.

So again i disagree with you that “All” pitchers have a lower percentage, maybe “All” of a small group of pitchers but I don’t believe your sample is large enough or your methods accurate enough to blanketly make accurate statements like that. It’s only pitchers in your study.

I have said in a previous post that I agree that there can be situations in which using a stand in batter can definately help if it’s available, but why not then agree that proper mechanics will dictate throwing strikes to a much higher degree than just having a target…that’s all I was saying.


#19

buwhite
If you will read my replies to this post, I think you will see we’re pretty much in agreement.


#20

[quote=“buwhite”]Ok, here is your entire comment:

Which says that in your research you have found that "All pitchers would have a lower percentage some more than others.

So again i disagree with you that “All” pitchers have a lower percentage, maybe “All” of a small group of pitchers but I don’t believe your sample is large enough or your methods accurate enough to blanketly make accurate statements like that. It’s only pitchers in your study.

I have said in a previous post that I agree that there can be situations in which using a stand in batter can definately help if it’s available, but why not then agree that proper mechanics will dictate throwing strikes to a much higher degree than just having a target…that’s all I was saying.[/quote]

I have to admit that I’m impress bu. I don’t thing kif was purposely misrepresenting what he saw, but I think he didn’t explain it the way he wanted to. And all you saw was much the same as what I saw. I’m goin’ out on a limb here, and if I’m wrong, I sure hope kif corrects me.

What I took from that statement, is that either he was calling balls and strikes himself, or had someone else doing it during practices, and that he did it prior to the kids seeing the “dummy” to get a baseline, then did it with the “dummy” and compared the two. Or, he calculated the pitchers’ strike percentages in games before they practiced with the “dummy” then again after, and compared those results. Either way is acceptable, but in order to get results that would stand up to scrutiny, a bit more has to be done.

On its face, it sounds as though he only checked once. FI, 3 pitchers had a strike percentage of say 40%. Then they practiced with a “dummy”, and their percentages all improved. 1 went to 44%, 1 to 46%, and 1 to 48%. That would account for some improving more than others.

But, to assume that same thing would happen every time is ludicrous, so sooner or later the percentages would have to get worse, at least to some degree. Like everything else pitchers do, some days are better than others, which is why using averages is important, and the more data points, the more accurate the average. What I’m saying is, its one thing to gather data, but another to gather it so that it can le looked at in a meaningful way.

But all that aside, my suspicion is, there was something taking place that wasn’t even considered. For MOST pitchers, 9YO is pretty much the beginning of pitching careers. Something that must be kept in mind is, whenever someone starts something new, especially something that takes a lot of coordination and body movements, the very worst performances will almost always be the earliest ones where there isn’t much if any experience to draw on.

What that means is, there will be great leaps of skill taking place because there’s so much to learn, then gradually those leaps forward will becomes smaller and smaller, until as a highly skilled pitcher, it might take months to make progress on something. So, its quite reasonable to me that 9YO’s would find their accuracy improving each time they pitch. Assuming that paradigm is true, it would follow that all 9YO pitchers would improve to some degree whether they used a “dummy” or not. That would mean to measure the true improvement the “dummy” was responsible for, the difference between the normal improvement and the improvement from the “dummy” would have to be measured. Confused yet?

Let me put it this way. A pitcher throw strikes at a 50% rate. Then he practices with the “dummy”, and the next time he pitches, his percentage increases to 60%. But, 5% of that improvement was because that’s just how things work. People get better at them the more the do them. So, rather than a 10% improvement attributable to the “dummy”, it would only be 5%.

But to tell the truth, I don’t know who would take the time to do that kind of study on a 9YO, unless they were trying to justify something like a “dummy”. :wink: