What happens when hitters are in a slump, and can you tell?

Right now I’m just kickin’ it and watchin’ the Phils game, and I’m watching Pat Burrell strike out four times with runners on base. Right now, Burrell is playing himself out of the team and MANY teams with his poor performance (batting .100-something since the Break.) I watched as Burrell swung and missed on FOUR pitches right down the forking middle! 88 mph fastballs!

What’s going on with the hitter when he’s in a slump (physical, and mentally) and as a pitcher how can you recognize this and take advantage?

LIVE GAME EDIT: Burrell struck out 5 times on a fastball. :evil:

Alright here it is, a golden answer. For most hitters at the upper level, a slump generates from them not being able to put the barrel of the bat on the ball… obviously… For a big leaguer like Pat Burrell, it’s usually because he’s late, thus he’s not getting the bathead into the hitting zone at the right time, not early enough. That’s why you see these 88 mph fastballs going right by him and he’s swinging underneath everytime. That’s why when you watched Barry Bonds in his prime (steroid induced) he never got in slumps because his bathead was rarely if ever late. When you get the bathead out, into the hitting zone, then you always give yourself and opportunity to hit a baseball hard.

How can you recognize this as a pitcher, and how can a slump last half a season?

There’s a number of ways in which a pitcher can tell when a batter is in a slump. For example, watch where the guy is standing in the batter’s box. He might be hitting with his foot in the bucket—pulling away from the plate as he swings—and that leaves him wide open for an outside pitch. Or he might be chasing after so-called bad pitches consistently. His timing is way off, and he may not be seeing the ball as well as he used to. As a pitcher, you can sense these and other things and decide how you can get him out, even with a bad pitch. And there may even be a psychological component.
I used to go to Yankee Stadium every chance I got when I was a kid, and I would watch what Ed Lopat was doing to the hitters with his arsenal of “snake jazz”. This was particularly true when he was pitching against the Cleveland Indians; they were so convinced that they couldn’t beat him that they felt they might as well take their equipment and go home—result, a 40-13 lifetime record against them. Batters used to complain that after facing him they couldn’t get their timing back for a week! And later on, when I was working with him (and what an incredible pitching coach he was) he would share with me a good many ideas about how to pitch to the hitters, how to spot their vulnerabilities and how to get them 8) :idea: out.

Wow Zita! I looked up Ed Lopat on Google and found your name! How funny!

BTW what was the furthest level you ever made it to pitching.

Well—how about that!
I would have to say that I always pitched at the major league level. The schools I went to didn’t have any athletic programs to speak of, just general physical education programs, and so from the beginning I always played on the outside. When I was fourteen I hooked up with a very good high-level sandlot outfit that might almost have been called semipro except that no one got paid, and the manager was a former semipro infielder with good baseball sense—and we always played major league rules, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was one of four pitchers on the staff—we were all starters who could relieve in between—and, oddly enough, I was the only girl on the team, but the guys, all of whom were rather older than I was, didn’t mind one bit because I was getting the batters out with my constantly expanding repertoire of snake jazz.
Imagine this, now—there I was, a 5’4’’, 125-pound righthanded sidearmer, not much in the way of speed BUT—a lot of good stuff and the control and command to go with it. And I was getting the batters out. Oh, I would occasionally give up a couple of hits, but nobody got past second base, and usually when I would walk someone it was an intentional pass—the main thing was, I was mainly a strikeout pitcher who could also get the ground balls. Not much of a hitter, although I could punch one to the opposite field on occasion and drive in a run or two. Played for about seventeen years and then had to stop when my work schedule caught up with me and I lost my free weekends—GRRRR! But it was fun.
And I have to tell you, Ed Lopat was an incredible pitching coach, and what I learned from him was priceless. I will always remember him and the things he told me. (No wonder I never lost a game!) :slight_smile: 8) :baseballpitcher: