This is a very good question.
However, the answer(s) can go in many directions at once. So let me attempt to boil down the answer(s) in general terms.
Ball recognition is usually a quality that’s found all up and down the batting order. Hence, as a pitching coach, I spent a considerable amount of my time watching and listening to batting coaches. Why? Because these guys were my opposite number. Figure them out, and all the better.
So, those batters that had better ball recognition than others, were in the top of the batting order. Those with less ball recognition, were lower on the ladder.
I took the time to ask these guys on every club that I was with, all up and down the batting order - how? “How do you do it?” Here’s the answers that I got:
The batters in the top four spots of the batter order faced the pitcher with both eyes. They usually couldn’t predict what the pitch was, or it’s flight path, when it initially came out of the pitcher’s hand. This was the case, with over 90% of the good hitters that I asked. This was even the case when the signature of the release was obvious - like a curveball or even a knuckleball. Then I asked … “how far out do you need before making some kind of judgement?” Again, over 90% of those quality hitters answered - " Judgement stars with picking up the ball’s rotation, and it’s general flight path trajectory, oh … say … 30 to 40 feet out in front of them." The end result is a quicker time to start the commitment process and thus, make contact with the ball out in front of their leading hip. Thus, those in the middle of the batting order, have less ball recognition and therefore start the commitment process to swing or not, at about 10 to 20 feet in front of them. Thus the middle of the batting order starts to make contact with the pitch more towards the center of their body. The bottom of the order usually starts the recognition process at about 2 to ten feet out in front of them, thus making contact with the pitch off their back hip.
Of course this general narration is an over-simplification of the entire process of hitter’s recognition. However, enough of it is worthy enough to use as a starting point for a pitching coach and his/her pitching staff to train.
To make this easier to use as a starting point, all batter’s usually have two zones that they use to either start of reserve their commitment to swing, take the pitch, or simply guess. The first zone is the Travel Zone. This zone is the ball’s flight path that the batter visualizes with no reason to start the judgement process. The second zone is the Recognition Zone. Now the batter starts the split second process of either committing to a swing, deliberately letting the pitch go, or just stand there and wait for a call.
Every batter has a signature to these two zones and for different pitches. The trick is to track those two zone, find out why, and keep that data base up to date - game per game.
I should note that as pitchers and pitching coaches, we constantly educate ourselves of who we’re facing and how they should be pithed to. On the flip side are the batters and their coaches trying to educate their game plan on who to better us. Pitchers have tendencies too - some more predictable than others. Therefore, the answer to your question varies because of the volatility with the human condition for both pitcher and batter. This one-on-one meeting is the most fascinating component of this game.