The Same Pitch Twice


#1

In recent posts, the subject of repeating the same pitch twice to the same batter was open to debate. I’d like to bring a few observations to the topic.

The batter:
Every batter has a track record during a given time frame. He can either have a two week time frame or a three week time frame. Why? Because he’s human, and humans are prone to tendencies. Theses tendencies can be banked upon to produce a physical and emotional cause and effect that impact batting performance. Poor sleep the night before, personal conflicts outside the game, teammate controversies, Conflicts with coaches, and so on.
Can you at the amateur level spot these - not usually. But, you can observe the facial and body language of a player on the field. Watch how he reacts to fielding plays that don’t go well. Watch how well he mixes with his teammates, and watch how well he and his coach(s) interact.
Little signs can give you some indication of who your about to deal with at the plate. In that respect, is he overly aggressive at the plate, reserved, discussed, don’t care, etc.?
All of this adds volatility to your pitch selection, regardless of who’s calling your pitch selection.
So, if he’s standing their taking your curve ball, and you know that curve ball will be taken again, and again - go for it. But that wild card called “volatility” can pop up and suddenly surprise you. Why? Because if he’s a curve ball hitter - it’s gone!
Another thing is tracking hitters. In the amateur game there isn’t the support staff (usually) to track hitters. Normally, trackers chart and carefully itemize the why-n-where hitters did what. For example, the pitchers that they faced, the environment they played in - night or day, hot or cold, the slumps, home and away - or both, even what part of the country these guys played in.
As an amateur you don’t have that going for you, so you’ve got to use other protocols. And for most of you, your best stuff that goes to the park with you is the only thing going for you. On the other hand, if you have someone - anyone, who has a talent for spotting the weakness of some players at bat, their place in the batting order and why - well, at least you have more going for you than most youngsters in this game.

Pitcher:
If you have calls from the bench, that’s that. No sense in talking about something that’s not in your realm of control.
But, if you have some options, here’s a few basic things to consider - very basic mind you.
Below you’re going to see four (4) pictures, each describing three fundamental situations that you as a pitcher will deal with - IF you go to the well with the same pitch repeatedly. You can of course have this same situation with other pitches, but that for another topic post and discussion.

Here are things that will effect your delivery - thus your location and its aftermath.

  • Your Arm Slot
    You arm slot can change ever so slightly and alter the signature at the plate. So, what you think is the same pitch that you just delivered can actually be different - a difference that you don’t expect nor want. For example, the top left picture shows a four (4) seam fastball grip released once, then followed up by what you assume to be the same pitch - but down range at the plate it’s location is altered. Instead of being at location (1) it now drives home at location (2). Not good!

  • Batter Alters Posture.
    A batter in the box can alter his reaction to an incoming pitch, after seeing it a second time, and after given time to think about it. (More on that later)
    So notice with our batter at the lower left how his arms are in one pose, but, the same batter in our picture to the right changes his arms ever so slightly. This alteration changes a ton of stuff. It changes his optimum impact confidence with his swipe path and the game plan on the field if you have runners on.

- Your Duration
As you go on, inning to inning, you’re going to have a tolerance and fatigue rate that will vary your quality. On the other hand some pitchers actually get stronger as the game goes on. But, mixed into this are things like how long has the pitcher sat between innings, what are the surface conditions of the mound, how well are you backed up defensively by the people behind you, your pitch count at any point in time, etc.

I could go on with this topic but that would be beyond a reasonable content for this web site. Pitch selection- repeated or not, could be a web site all to its own.

The fundamentals of pitch selection has a volume of “what if’s” to contend with. Your learning curve will undoubtedly have “do’s” and “don’t” all tailored to your specific talent level, the people you compete against, and how serious you concentrate on this sport and the pitcher’s position. Some of the players that you face will go down, regardless. Others will not, regardless. So just be careful isolating an individual performance, then hanging your hat on what happens.

Coach B.


#2

Take a look at Mariano Rivera. There’s a guy who repeats his mechanics again and again and again, practically no deviation, and that is one reason he’s so successful. And there’s that cutter—batters know it’s coming, they know he’s going to throw it, and most of the time all they succeed in doing is breaking their bats!!! I’ve noticed that the one time he gives up a couple of hits is when he throws something other than that cut fastball.
I learned to do something like that in my playing days—repeat my mechanics, even when I used the crossfire. Ed Lopat worked with me on that; he showed me how to vary the speed of one pitch or another with an alteration in my grip, and he told me how not to telegraph my pitches. He emphasized throwing everything I had with the same arm motion and the same arm speed, whether it’s a faster pitch or a slower one—it’s what you do with the grip. :slight_smile: 8)


#3

It’s how I pitch too, I have a curve ball but it’s a knuckle curve that I throw with fastball arm swing, I love it.


#4

[quote=“Coach Baker”]… Pitcher:
If you have calls from the bench, that’s that. No sense in talking about something that’s not in your realm of control. … [/quote]

Gonna put ya on the spot here. If you’re the manager, do you want pitches called from the dugout?

I don’t know how long you’ve been coaching, but there was some point in time when it became fashionable for coaches to call pitches. I graduated in 1965 and worked out with one MiL coach who was a pro catcher for about a 100 years to hear him tell it. Not once in any HS game, nor once in any workout or game after that, did I ever have to relay a pitch sign from the bench. That’s pretty much the way it was on every team.

I went off to the service and didn’t get involved in baseball again until the early 90’s, and by then it was normal for the pitches to be coming from the bench even in LLI. So sometime in that 25 year period, an entire generation of coaches changed what had been going on for around 100 years, and its gotten nothing but more widespread as far as I can tell.

When did it change, and more importantly why? I’ve talked to my friend about it, and he says that when he was scouting here in Ca from about 1960 until 1967, his recollection is the same as mine. Catchers were expected to not only call pitches, but to understand what they were doing. Once he became an ML pitching coach, one of his duties was to work with newly signed MiL pitchers and work with them in the rookie league. Of course working with pitchers he also had to work with catchers, and says he can’t remember every having to work with a catcher who hadn’t been calling games, unless he was one who’d been recently switched from some other position in the pros.

Since he did that until almost 1980, I’m guessing that something happened between the early 80’s and early 90’s that changed baseball at the fundamental level. Do you remember anything goin’ on about that time that would have caused such a paradigm shift in basic coaching philosophy?


#5

My summer coach called pitches from the dugout and now my catcher calls the game, or so he thinks, I am in control, I can always shake it off and get the pitch that I want, you gotta grow some and throw your game, not what the coach wants or the catcher but I throw what I am confident in and what I feel is gonna work. Sometimes I hear my coach say, “Didn’t like my knuckle curve, or changeup” and I shook it off to get fastball, well most of the time I am dead on. The players I play with don’t wanna think, they just want to play.


#6

That’s all well and good for you, and I think it’s a great mindset, but do you really believe your situation represents every single amateur pitcher’s situation? You’ve got to remember, these forums aren’t about just one person’s baseball story, they represent millions of players’ stories.

As I indicated above, I happen to agree with your mindset, but what good would your mindset do in this situation? My boy’s HS coach had a rule for his pitchers. Outside of the “called” shakes, a pitcher could shake of the catcher once. The 2nd time was an automatic trip to the bench. No argument, no excuse. Just give up the ball and be prepared to run some serious laps all week.

Most coaches I’ve come across aren’t that anal, but it does happen. The coach I currently score for will definitely call time and have a mound visit when his P’s shake what he considers too much.


#7

im just about to turn 14 and feel i have one of the absolute most hard**** coaches that you can have, i definately have ran a few hundred poles (ok maybe less) for being a cupcake at practice or not making the right decision that we have practiced 20 times or maybe a hundred, but over time I think he trusts me more and more, i did ask him if i could get to the pitches that i wanted to in certain situations and eventually he let me call more. I know that itll all change when i get a new coach in high school, i know its not going to be easy but i am confident in my pitches and what i want to throw. I know the high school coaches can be ****, my brother got suspended for 2 games last year for not feeling bad enough about a loss, he made him feel like crap but every other loss that year really meant something. guess its about dealing with the coach you play for at the time. right now i think my coach only does mound visits for me to hack me off, sometimes i get so mad, maybe that is what he is trying to do but i really hate it when they come out to my mound…


#8

My remarks were directed to the pitcher - not the bench, a coach, or others not with the ball in their hands. In fact, the entire length of my remarks were directed to the pitcher - as is most of this web site in respose to those asking whatever.

I always qualify my remarks in keeping with said same individuals that I’m thinking of - trying to cover a wide range of ages and levels of talent - as in this case with the very first word in my remark that you took in quotes… and that word is … "[size=18]IF[/size]…"
If you have calls from the bench, that’s that. No sense in talking about something that’s not in your realm of control.
Read my entire contribution and you’ll see the qualifications I admit to, thus advising the reader… what’s what. In as much there is no position for and against, on the subject. There are, however, points of consideration that make pitching what it is - a craft that has numerous variables.

With respect to calling pitches from the dugout, bench - anywhere, that’s here to stay up and down the competitive spectrum, pro and no-pro alike. From the early 1800’s to day - it happens. The reasons all have worth, especially in the professional game. In the youth game I can only assume the reasons are due to something detailing inexperience by the youngster pitching - 10-12 right up through college ball. However, that subject of calling pitches from the bench has been talked to death on this site and if you’d like to refer to that by subject you can do so somewhere, I’m sure.

Coach B.


#9

Scorekeeper,

As I read through the entire post of buwhite. I didn’t read where he made any such assumption that your addressing. He simply stated an environment that he has to deal with - not broadbrushing it for everyone.

Scorekeeper, you have a tendency to dig your heels in and start off with assumptions (like above) that really don’t fit the topic(s). That can be a negative impact on the youngster that’s contributing his experiences.

I’m assuming your contributions are golden and sincere - but, perhaps with a little less bite. Please note there is nothing personal in my remarks here.

Coach B.


#10

Coach B. don’t know if this is what you were asking but as a pitcher I want to have the pitches called by me and the catcher. If I was the manager then I want whoever will get me the win. jsut how I would like it to be! :smiley:


#11

In Yogi Berra’s early days catching for the Yankees, manager Casey Stengel used to call all the pitches from the dugout. This may have been a case of just plain micromanaging, and the pitchers didn’t like it at all when Yogi would be looking at the dugout for a signal every time. Finally Allie Reynolds said he would break Yogi of that habit; the pitchers wanted Berra to see the game through their eyes. So one day Reynolds was pitching, and a battle royal ensued—Stengel wanted Berra to look at him all the time for the signals, and Reynolds wanted Berra to look at him and call the pitches himself. Eventually the Chief won out, and ol’ Casey stopped this disruptive practice. 8)


#12

I wasn’t asking, or, questioning any comments made. So, your approach to the subject is the way you go with the flow - or, create it yourself. So be it.

The entire gist of my remarks were to point out some of the tendencies that happen when a pitcher - regardless of who calls what, goes to the well repeatedly for the same pitch.
Sometimes, and I repeat sometimes, without being aware of it - the pitch isn’t exactly what the pitcher had in mind. Small alterations in his release due to the small sample of things that I listed, or, the batter’s adjustments like the small sample of things I listed, can have undesirable consequences. Take it or leave it, do your own thing - hey, whatever floats your boat.
On the subject of managers or anyone else for that matter calling pitches from the bench, here’s my observations. In the amateur ranks there are all kinds of things in orbit that play into the discussion. And that has been beaten to death here. So, I’m going to leave it to anyone interested in reading through reams of postings to satisfy their curiosity. In the professional game there are reasons for calling pitches from the bench - and they have worth. Here’s why:
The professional game is so dynamic that it makes sense to have as much information as possible prior to, and while in, a game. Advance men, scouting reports, player analysis, independents and so forth are paid good money to track and a keep record of what players are doing. Take it one step further - let’s look at what’s going on off the field in addition to what’s going on the field. So, just prior to a game the coaching staff will meet and review as much data as they can, usually no more than two or three weeks old at best, pick and choose the best possible pitch selection for each player that they believe will give them the best results. Now here’s where professionalism comes in - nothing is set in stone so solid as to dictate a -“no matter what” we go with the plan. Nope! Adjustments are made to account for all kinds of stuff.
Now as far as the catcher, pitcher, bench - or any one or combination calling a pitch, they all better be in tuned with the pre-game meeting that hashed over the subject. What may look like one or more people calling signals is in reality nothing more than a plan of action, bought and paid for with a lot of work before hand.
In any event, it’s the pitching coaches job to insure that his man - or men, scheduled for that day, GET IT! Why? Because there’s other elements of the club that are depending on it. Field coaches, bench coaches and the like are all banking on some sort of base of operations to guide their evaluation during live fire (game time) of what’s- what.
If a pitcher wants to “shake off” a portion of the game plan - prearranged and expected, he’d better have a pretty good reason. He’d better have players behind him that can adjust on the fly, shift if necessary - and all of this done at the speed of thought! And yes, this does happen routinely - after all these people are professionals, they’re paid to do that.

Here’s a little know part of shaking signals off - did you ever see a pitcher take too long reading signals. Sometimes the man is actually thinking of going with his own ideas - but then re-thinks the subject and quickly mutters to himself …” man I screw this up …hmmm, better go with the flow.” I use to routinely ask every pitcher that I had, who shook off any signal, why. Quietly, in confidence, that was their remark.

Any way, good health discussion on the subject. Has lots of avenues to approach and follow. To each his own.

Coach B.


#13

Thank you Coach!
I think it perhaps the most lucid and complete representation of how and why a game plan is designed and executed and what the coach/bench/pitcher interplay really is, that I’ve ever read.
I can only tip my cap. :wink:


#14

Coach B, what you are saying is that we might tip our pitches either intensionally or not by either throwing the same out pitch all the time or set up pitch or whatever, or just by our tendencies we go to well once too often. I do agree that the bench may have more info than I do on a hitter especially right now when I don’t see the same hitter but maybe once in a couple of tournaments, it will be interesting when I get to see hitters that I or the bench know more about but then they will know more about me too.


#15

Here’s what’s unfortunate. There are so many people, personalities, philosophies, and levels of the game, the combinations become infinite. Because of that, there will seldom ever be a time when everything goes “by the same book”, so IMHO it’s a worthwhile endeavor to plan for the contingency, so when the book fails, there is a viable alternative.

bu, your observation that “the bench may have more info than I do on a hitter especially right now when I don’t see the same hitter but maybe once in a couple of tournaments” is obviously a very strong possibility, especially at the HS and below level. But, your other observation: “it will be interesting when I get to see hitters that I or the bench know more about but then they will know more about me too” is to me the one that presents the most possible problems.

For many years, amateur baseball at the HS age level consisted of the HS team, then for the summer, a Legion or Jr Legion team. The way things go now though, is that rather than just Legion ball outside of HS ball, there are all kinds of different venues available for players, and the higher you get, the more venues there will be.

But here’s something I don’t believe many people understand. While some players go way outside of their local area to find a team, most play on a team made up of local players. They might not all go to the same school, but they generally are from the same area.

Although many teams travel to places like Cooperstown or the Jr Olympic tournament, most often they play tournaments in the same general areas, and therefore get to play with and against a lot of the same players they’ll see in HS, many more times in those tournaments then they see them in the HS games.

That can often create a bit of a problem because it could create the opposite of your 1st situation. That would be where you definitely know much more about many player’s and their tendencies because you’d seen them a lot more than the coaches. Hopefully, that will be recognized, and when the pitchers, catchers, and coaches have their meeting to discuss the game plan, it will be taken into account.


#16

You have really made me want to get to high school ball and legion ball, and made me a little sad since when I was 10 we were supposed to go to Cooperstown and we instead went to Myrtle Beach, had a great time but it just wasn’t Cooperstown, maybe I will get there as I get onto some of my older teams.

How should I start to understand more about hitters into my future, right now some kids I just know from playing them that they can’t hit the curve or change and other are gonna get the fast ball or beaned if you know what I mean. But so many others I see for the first time, what do you look for, I look for posture, where they set up, how they hold their hands and where their weight is in the box?


#17

As you get older and climb a bit higher up the ladder, you’ll find different ages and levels bring with them, different goals. I truly think the most exciting and extravagant affair my boy participated in, was the Jr Olympic tournament. He went twice to Az, and its really difficult to describe the experience.

The next, at least IMO, was playing in the HS playoffs at the end of the regular HS season. Our playoffs start with a Suicide Saturday, and go on from there into a double elimination tournament. Although my boy was never lucky enough to be on a team that won a championship, he was on a team that went to his HS’s 1st ever playoff, and the next season made it to the double eliminations for the 1st ever. It was totally electric to watch those games.

The school I score for now has been lucky enough to get deep into the playoffs every year so some might think it was old stuff, but it’s the same thing. There’s absolutely nothing like the HS baseball playoffs for drama and excitement, and it doesn’t matter what size or state the school is in. It’s the 1st time players climb on the stage to represent their school, and that’s something special.

One of the things that also makes it cool, is that for the 1st time its possible to see your team’s record and statistics in comparison to the other HS teams. Sometimes it only for your city, but if your lucky, your coach might put your team into a national database like MaxPreps. If you’ve never been there, go to http://www.maxpreps.com/national/national.htm and look around at the baseball stuff. It isn’t like Baseballreference.com, but its pretty cool, and this year Fr and JV data can be put in as well as V. I think its neat to be able to look at other players and teams from other parts of the country. It can be humbling. LOL!

I really wish I had the answers there, but the best I can tell you is experience is the best teacher. The reason for that is, you’re never gonna run into exactly the same situation you’ve had before. The best you can hope for is to have been in a similar situation and remember how you handled it and what the outcome was. The more situations you can put in your resume`, the more likely you’ll be able to choose the right thing to do.

Something else I think can help anyone understand the game better, is to learn how to interpret the numbers available. Most people call them “stats”, but what they really are is metrics. Here’s a definition: A metric is nothing more than a standard measure to assess performance in a particular area. Learn how to look at the different metrics available and pull information from them. FI, if you’re getting ready to play a team, wouldn’t you want to know who the “best” hitters were, who the best base stealers were, who was likely to swing at a 1st pitch, or many other things? You don’t have to fall in love with the numbers, but they can paint a picture that might help you.


#18

There are a million things that go into pitch selection, I’ll throw a few ideas out there.

First off, I’d rather have a pitcher 100% invested in the “wrong” pitch than have them 50% invested in the “right” pitch suggested by the coach or catcher. In other words, the pitcher HAS to believe what he is throwing is the right pitch.

The important thing here is trust. I’ve thrown to catchers who I really trust and who I really believe has a feel for the opposing hitters along with my stuff. If I have a pitch in mind and my catcher puts down something else, the trust factor kicks in. Even if the pitch wasn’t my first choice, I trust that the catcher has a good feel and I’m more confident in the pitch. If I don’t trust the catcher, I’m shaking him off and throwing my pitch.

At the Amatuer Level:

Coaches calling pitches has some advantages and some disadvantages. As I mentioned above, as a pitcher you have to be committed to the pitch. Sometimes this is difficult when the coach is making decisions. Also, the coach doesn’t know how YOU feel. You may not have feel for the curve today and maybe it’s not your out pitch. You know that, you want to adjust. Coaches calling pitches can make that difficult.

One of the advantages of having a coach call pitches is that it usually can help you become a more complete pitcher. That same situation where you don’t want to throw a pitch, maybe you’re forced to and it opens up a whole world of possibilities.

Let’s try a hypothetical situation: say a 14 year old pitcher at the amateur level has a fastball, curve and change. Chances are, his curveball is his main secondary pitch, he’s afraid to throw his change and he pretty much throws only a fastball away and a curve. Well, if his coach starts calling pitches maybe he starts calling fastballs inside. Or change ups in key situations. That pitcher has now doubled his repetoire by being “forced” to throw different pitches. Even if the outcome is less than desired at first, it should help in the long run.

Couple other things to consider:

  1. Do not give hitters too much credit. There is no hitter who “hits every fastball.”

  2. Use shaking off the catcher to your advantage. A lot of catchers call an “auto shake” where they make you shake them off then call the actual pitch they want, often times it’s a fastball. Hitting is all about reaction. Pitcher’s shaking instantly gets the hitter thinking, even just a little. Once the hitter is thinking, it’s harder for him to simply react to the pitch.

  3. Pitch to your strengths first. Understand how your fastball moves.

  4. Take note of WHERE you miss when you to miss. Is it up? is it inside? Use your misses to your advantage


#19

At the Pro Level:

All gameplanning is done before the game (before a series) and actual pitches are rarely, if ever, called from the dugout during games. Managers usually only handle pickoffs, slide steps and pitch outs from the dugout.

A pregame meeting between coaches, pitchers, and catchers will cover a hitter’s strengths and weaknesses, his general approach, where he wants to hit the ball and where to position him.

For strengths and weakneses, is he a high or low ball hitter? Does he jump on breaking balls in the strike zone? Does he chase? Does he like the ball out over the plate? Does he have “slider” bat speed.

For approach, does he swing at the first pitch? Is he more aggressive with men on base? Will he chase with 2 strikes? Will he swing often in hitter’s counts? Will he bunt? Will he steal bases? Does he “choke up” with 2 strikes?

Here’s the fun part about these scouting reports: they’re given to a pitching staff of 12-13 pitchers, all with their own style and repetoire. So the pregame meeting doesn’t mean the coaches are telling the 98 mph fireballer to get these guys out the same way the soft tossing lefty does. The biggest thing is to get a feel for what the hitters like to do, then adjusting your own personal gameplan to get them out.


#20

Excellent stuff, palo! :allgood:

Good to see you back on here.