Throwing strikes is the name of the game for pitchers. An average pitcher will throw around a 62% strikes per 100 pitch outing where an above average pitcher will throw 65% strikes. As a pitcher, we are always looking for the edge over the hitters. If an average pitcher is going to throw 62 strikes to 38 balls in a 100 pitch outing, what if we could maximize these strikes to give us an even better advantage? Well we can by utilizing what the plate allows us to. The width of a baseball plate measures at 17 inches across, while the width of a baseball measures at 3 inches. So what this math should be telling us is that we could fit almost 6 baseball across the width of the plate depending on how big that umpires strike zone is. To take that even a step further, the width of a pitching rubber measures at 24 inches, which means that with the right position on the rubber, we can create an even better angle against the hitter.
Now these numbers mean nothing unless we utilize them to our advantage. The pitchers that never progress are the ones that are worrying about throwing strikes, where they should be worrying about throwing “quality strikes.” This means that they are utilizing their full 17 inches that the plate allows to miss that hitters barrel.
Hitters are taught to “cover the whole plate.” What this means to a hitter is that they should be able to hit anything that is around the plate. If we can take into consideration that a bats average barrel size is around 8 inches and if we lay that barrel right on top of the plate, then that barrel is still missing out on 9 inches of the plate. That is where utilizing the full width of the plate gives the pitcher an advantage.
I am a firm believer that pitching inside to a hitter is the best tool in a pitchers arsenal, after a first pitch strike of course. The reason that its so difficult for a hitter to put a good swing on a well located inside pitch is because they aren’t taught well enough to keep their hands inside long enough. If they do put the bat to the ball on an inside pitch, more often than not you will get a weak ground ball somewhere. The reasons that its difficult for a pitcher to execute this pitch is because the pitcher has a much smaller window to locate this pitch and they are scared of hitting the batter. Like with anything else in baseball, pitchers should practice and focus on hitting that inside quadrant of the plate. I like my pitchers to visualize making quality pitches to the inside quadrant, that way they have a familiarity to it and are comfortable to do when they take the mound. “Pitch Away To Display…Pitch In To WIN.”