Strikes

When picking Pitchers for a 9 year old little league team whats a good strike percentage to look for?

50% and above will get the job done. 60% or above is excellent.

I am not qualified to coach this age group. But, I have observed positive coaching techniques from some very talented people and they all seem to have a common denominator with respect to bringing along a youngster at the pitcher’s position and that has to do with instilling confidence.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be with youngsters in the nine year old bracket –but, I’ve seen the following be so successful at the youth level that I’ve used it many times and it seems to work well. The “it” that I’m referring to is the classification what constitutes a strike for evaluating and then communicating that performance to a pitcher in development. In particular the strike percentage.

I should mention that this attention span does not take into account wins and losses, ERA’s, and other statistics. The strike percentage analysis that I’m referring to is floorboard basic stuff for confidence building with a developing pitcher as a standalone and separate “first step” only.

A strike is a fairly straight forward thing – it’s either a strike or it’s not. Plain and simple. But what I’m going to suggest is broadening the population base for what is a strike. Obviously, a pitch right down the pike is a strike. But so are these when pitched: a foul ball, a fly ball caught, a fly ball not caught, a base hit, a home run, a base(s) hit due to a fielding error. Now I know there not called “strike” by the umpire, but nevertheless each pitch was deliveried with the complextion of being a strike.

So, here’s a suggesting for very young pitchers…and looking at the % of strikes that they deliver … but with a slightly different breakdown:

32 total pitches – 6 called strike, hit safe 2, field err 1, field out 3, called ball 10, foul 9

Called strike by umpire 6
Pitched balls hit safely 2
Pitched balls fielding errors 1
Pitched balls fielded for outs 3
Pitched balls fouled off 9
Total 21
Strike % 21/32 = 66%

Some youth coaches find no value whatsoever in this approach while others find it at least a starting point for bringing to a youngster’s attention that a strike is something that can be hit, fielded cleanly or not, homered, fouled, or completely swung on and missed or taken for a call. The next step is keeping the confidence alive long enough so that accuracy is sustained and the strike calls increase.

Coach B.

our best two pitchers throw 60% strikes - the rest are around 50%

My 9 and 10 year old LL team that I coached a couple years ago had a boy that threw…I kid you not…90% strikes…he was as accurate as any pitching machine…He didnt have the strongest arm but good enough to be hard to hit at 9 and 10…He dominated at that age he is now almost 13 and still throws the same speed and just as accurate…the hitting has just gotten better and he is not as effective…but he is still impressive to watch…he can place a pitch better than anyone I have seen even in travel ball…

one game he threw 36 pitches in 4 innings all stikeouts…game over 15-0

Hmmm…you say he’s almost thirteen, and he’s not as effective as he was before. Maybe the hitters are getting better—or maybe they’re getting a good read on his stuff. I would suggest that he add another pitch to his arsenal, perhaps a palm ball which puts no strain on the arm or shoulder because you throw it with the same motion and the same arm speed as you do the fast ball. I used to throw one, and I used it as a changeup, and a very good one it was too. Also, he has to be careful not to telegraph his pitches. :slight_smile: 8)

[quote=“dolphindan1”]My 9 and 10 year old LL team that I coached a couple years ago had a boy that threw…I kid you not…90% strikes…he was as accurate as any pitching machine…He didnt have the strongest arm but good enough to be hard to hit at 9 and 10…He dominated at that age he is now almost 13 and still throws the same speed and just as accurate…the hitting has just gotten better and he is not as effective…but he is still impressive to watch…he can place a pitch better than anyone I have seen even in travel ball…

one game he threw 36 pitches in 4 innings all stikeouts…game over 15-0[/quote]

I witnessed a 9 year old strike out five 10 year-olds in a LL all star game, using only 17 pitches. They were all looking! I’ve also seen the same kid walk five in an inning without giving up a run. (Two kids were tagged out at the plate on wild pitches/pass balls.)

60% is average for a major leaguer and 55% for a decent little leaguer.
i throw 67% about

Coach B, I can see you’re a man after my own heart! Numbers really are a good thing! :wink:

I understand what you’re getting at, and in a perfect world agree because I always think the more information one has, the more able s/he is to make an intelligent decision. But here’s what I’ve sadly found when it comes to numbers for youth ball, small field ball especially. There are few people like you or me who would take the time to pull that information from the scorebook, assuming the scorer put it in there to begin with.

Remember, most of the time at those levels, we’re not talking people steeped in the game and having a deep understanding of metrics. More often than not, it just people looking for a way to give the kids and parents something to glom onto, so they can measure what they’re doing against some standard.

Personally, I like the strike percentage standard, and I do break the stats down into may varied things, but I try to watch my audience. In today’s world, the knowledge of youth players and many parents is very shallow indeed, so I try to keep that in mind.

If you go to

http://www.infosports.com/scorekeeper/images/pitching10.pdf

and look at the very 1st page, you can see the basic stats for our pitchers. But if you look at the pitches, you’ll see 3 different things. Strikes, Hit Strikes, and Balls. What those are is really Strikes, Balls in Play Strikes, and Balls. I break it down a bit more on page 61, but basically it’s the same thing you’re doing, with only 2 categories of strikes rather than 5.

Like I said, as far as I’m concerned, we could break it down even more, but when talking about the 7-13 level, IMO that gets a bit scary for a lot of people, and the last thing I want to do is see someone’s eyes cloud over when I’m trying to explain some stat. :wink:

Can you explain to me why my link won’t work on this site?