My son is one of the streakiest hitters I have ever witnessed.   There are times when he just doesn't miss the ball.  During those streaks, he drives it all over the field or puts up long ABs, during which he spoils tough pitch after tough pitch, ending often in a walk or a hit.   He once had a string of 26 PA's in which he was on base 22 of 26 times.  He's had many multi-game hitting streaks.  Longest, It think, was 18 games during an awesome summer ball stretch -- though he was on the young side then.

On the flip side,  he sometimes goes into long stretches were he can't touch the ball -- At ALL.  Once struck out 10 consecutive times in a tournament.  He pulled the hat trick just this weekend -- though in fairness to him,  one of his AB's was a quality AB in which he fouled off pitch after pitch and then was called out looking on a pitch 2 inches off the plate.  

 I can usually tell from his first AB in a game whether it's going to be one of those can't miss the ball games or one of those can't touch  the ball games.  

His college coaches have taken note of his streakiness  and  want to see him become more consistent.   My question, though, is how do you do that? 

Original Post

It is hard to know specifically without knowing the player well and knowing his swing.

In general, "streaky" players tend to have more moving parts in their swing, more timing mechanisms.  A simpler approach to mechanics can lead to more consistency.

How is his eyesight?  I'd get that checked.  Again, speaking in generalizations, I'd make sure he'd work on the mental part of the game a lot.  Does he get overly frustrated when he goes 0 for 4 in a game?  Does it start to get in his head "oh no here comes another slump."?  It is hard enough to hit good pitching, add in a defeatist attitude or less than 100% focus and that makes it even more difficult.

If it has nothing to do with eyesight or his mental state, and his mechanics are fairly simple and sound, how is his approach at the plate?  Is he chasing bad pitches?  Not crushing fastballs early in counts?

He actually has great eye sight.  20/13  vision when last checked.  Does say he has a hard time recognizing off speed out of pitchers hands.   Used to hammer the mediocre sliders he saw at lower levels.  Now he says pitchers with excellent off speed are his curse.   Not too many fastballs he can't catch up with -- at least not at his level. 

He and his college coaches have a disagreement about approach.  He's looking to drive the ball hard somewhere.  Sits  middle in early in the count.  Really loves to yank the ball.    Lays off pitches away until two strikes.  When he's going well he's a good 2 strike hitter, though, and has gotten many hits going the other way.  

Current coaches think he is too pull happy.  He disagree.  One of his assignments for the summer is to come back to school using the whole field more. 

He likes to say he's a power hitter trapped inside a little man's body.  He does have  great bat speed and gap to gap power.    His  swing does get long at times.    He says coaches want him to be more of "slap" hitter, exploit his considerable foot speed,  and strike out less.   He's reluctant to go that route.   I say coaches always win.  

Mechanically,  his actual swing after launch is pretty --  short, quick and very explosive, though It  does seem to get long at times.   He tinkers endlessly  -- and I mean endlessly --  with his timing mechanism. Not sure how many different ones he's tried, but it's been a fair number. 

He doesn't seem to get in mental funks at the plate so much these days,  although he definitely used to.   He used to really  press a lot when he got in a slump.  It was especially bad whenever anybody who mattered was watching.   These days he says he's learned to live with K's and accept them as a fact of baseball life. 

 

 

As a coach myself, I have to agree with his coaches in wanting him to use the whole field.  I agree with only swinging at strikes, however he should be driving the ball into the oppo gap on fastballs on the outer half of the plate.

If he can hit anyone's fastball, he shouldn't get too picky with fastballs early in counts that are hittable, oftentimes those are gonna be the best pitches he gets in an at-bat.   Since he's playing college, I would imagine that teams are starting to "scout him" and the book is to get him to try to pull outside fastballs (often resulting in ground-outs) or strike him out with offspeed.  He has to adjust, otherwise that is all he is ever going to get (except for occasionally pitchers making mistakes).

Baseball is a continual game of adjustments for hitters, especially at levels above high school.  If he shows that he will drive outside fastballs oppo, and lay off the junk that isn't a strike, he will be more consistent as a hitter and will get better pitches to hit.

BishopLeftiesDad posted:

Sluger,

Where did he end up laying this summer. I am glad to hear that the coaches provided feed back and gave him goals for this summer

 

He's playing with one of  his old travel coach  and also in a men's league for 18- 30 year olds that allows 2 current college players per team.   Between the two of them he should get a fair number of reps in.   Not as much as if he had landed a spot on a Collegiate Summer league team.  Got started too late for that.  (though one of the nearby coaches wants to keep in touch for next summer.)   At least, it leaves him plenty of time to work on strength and conditioning  with his personal trainer.   And some (but not all)  of the pitching in the men's league is VERY high level 

I would say the coaches gave him a set of "challenges"  for the summer.   Time to man up or move over.  It's on him. 

3and2Fastball posted:

As a coach myself, I have to agree with his coaches in wanting him to use the whole field.  I agree with only swinging at strikes, however he should be driving the ball into the oppo gap on fastballs on the outer half of the plate.

If he can hit anyone's fastball, he shouldn't get too picky with fastballs early in counts that are hittable, oftentimes those are gonna be the best pitches he gets in an at-bat.   Since he's playing college, I would imagine that teams are starting to "scout him" and the book is to get him to try to pull outside fastballs (often resulting in ground-outs) or strike him out with offspeed.  He has to adjust, otherwise that is all he is ever going to get (except for occasionally pitchers making mistakes).

Baseball is a continual game of adjustments for hitters, especially at levels above high school.  If he shows that he will drive outside fastballs oppo, and lay off the junk that isn't a strike, he will be more consistent as a hitter and will get better pitches to hit.

From you mouth to god's ears. IMHO he lays off way too many pitches on the outer third early in the count cause he's looking for something to yank early in the count.  

I tell him he should be trying to hammer those pitches  oppo.   

I also tell him that at college, unlike in HS or Travel, they will build a book on you.  And if you lay off outside pitches in the zone, you'll be sitting 0-2 every AB and the pitcher will almost always win -- especially if he has a nasty off speed pitch. 

(But I'm a Dad, what I say doesn't count. Coaches, though, are a different matter.   They always win.)

SluggerDad posted:
BishopLeftiesDad posted:

Sluger,

Where did he end up laying this summer. I am glad to hear that the coaches provided feed back and gave him goals for this summer

 

He's playing with one of  his old travel coach  and also in a men's league for 18- 30 year olds that allows 2 current college players per team.   Between the two of them he should get a fair number of reps in.   Not as much as if he had landed a spot on a Collegiate Summer league team.  Got started too late for that.  (though one of the nearby coaches wants to keep in touch for next summer.)   At least, it leaves him plenty of time to work on strength and conditioning  with his personal trainer.   And some (but not all)  of the pitching in the men's league is VERY high level 

I would say the coaches gave him a set of "challenges"  for the summer.   Time to man up or move over.  It's on him. 

My son did the exact same thing the summer after his senior year. Played an extra year of Travel ball. Used to be some college Freshman in this area would play Legion for an extra year. Son's legion program was not interested in having alumni on the team. Once you graduated you were no longer eligible. Another program in the area welcomed college players. They asked my son to play, but he played travel instead. 

"His college coaches have taken note of his streakiness  and  want to see him become more consistent.   My question, though, is how do you do that? "

 

Pretty easy answer, in my view.

Change his approach mentally and physically.  It certainly sounds like the college coaches are telling him, but he is not taking to heart, the fact that  nothing he has done transfers to success at the level of college ball at which he is now trying to compete and earn a roster spot.

I have told this story before but I certainly think it applies here.  In Milb, our son played with a 5th round pick out of Vanderbilt.  He was all SEC and even a top hitter in the NY/Penn league following the draft.

The next season in A ball, by June, he was hitting below .200, was over-matched and was moved to #9 in the line up. The organization and hitting coach literally spent the entire month of June of part of July completely rebuilding his swing and approach. What he learned was his swing and approach worked to a certain point. However, as the pitching got better, the command got better and scouting reports got better, the holes in his swing got bigger and his approach got exposed.

From what you are posting about your son and the comments of his college coaches, it seems pretty clear the college coaches feel better college pitching will expose the swing and approach so there is even more inconsistency.  The K's and outs will be more pronounced and the hitting "streaks" will diminish, assuming he can even get on them against better college pitching.

 

infielddad posted:

"His college coaches have taken note of his streakiness  and  want to see him become more consistent.   My question, though, is how do you do that? "

 

Pretty easy answer, in my view.

Change his approach mentally and physically.  It certainly sounds like the college coaches are telling him, but he is not taking to heart, the fact that  nothing he has done transfers to success at the level of college ball at which he is now trying to compete and earn a roster spot. 

....

This could almost be a quote from his exit interview.  They told him that he had tremendous raw talent and was an elite athlete with a huge upside but (and here's the quote)   "unlike in High School, raw talent doesn't last in college." 

My son stopped trying to pull everything starting with junior year of high school. It made his stock rise significantly. Unlike your son taking outside pitches my son tried to pull them. He had always been able to in the past. I once told my son if I was defensing him the only player on the left side would be a third baseman to keep him from bunting.

Starting with fall ball junior year I paid a lot of money to have a professional make him do what I had been telling him for a year. 4-3 grounders and soft flares to right turned into line drive hits the other way. Some turned into gap shots for extra bases.

in your son's case called strikes that get him deeper in the hole will turn into line drives the other way. 

SluggerDad posted:

He actually has great eye sight.  20/13  vision when last checked.  Does say he has a hard time recognizing off speed out of pitchers hands.   Used to hammer the mediocre sliders he saw at lower levels.  Now he says pitchers with excellent off speed are his curse.   Not too many fastballs he can't catch up with -- at least not at his level. 

He and his college coaches have a disagreement about approach.  He's looking to drive the ball hard somewhere.  Sits  middle in early in the count.  Really loves to yank the ball.    Lays off pitches away until two strikes.  When he's going well he's a good 2 strike hitter, though, and has gotten many hits going the other way.  

Current coaches think he is too pull happy.  He disagree.  One of his assignments for the summer is to come back to school using the whole field more. 

He likes to say he's a power hitter trapped inside a little man's body.  He does have  great bat speed and gap to gap power.    His  swing does get long at times.    He says coaches want him to be more of "slap" hitter, exploit his considerable foot speed,  and strike out less.   He's reluctant to go that route.   I say coaches always win.  

Mechanically,  his actual swing after launch is pretty --  short, quick and very explosive, though It  does seem to get long at times.   He tinkers endlessly  -- and I mean endlessly --  with his timing mechanism. Not sure how many different ones he's tried, but it's been a fair number. 

He doesn't seem to get in mental funks at the plate so much these days,  although he definitely used to.   He used to really  press a lot when he got in a slump.  It was especially bad whenever anybody who mattered was watching.   These days he says he's learned to live with K's and accept them as a fact of baseball life. 

 

 

I am finding it amazing how many very good HS hitters have no plan for their eyes.  They can rely on talent and fast hands to beat most pitching at their level.  

Do you know what your sons approach is regarding a focus point during the pitchers delivery?  Does he hard focus on the pitchers hat?  If he does great.  If he doesn't you might want to suggest he gives it a shot.  

Many players are just looking at the pitcher.  If a player hard focuses on the pitcher's hat emblem, the eyes will pick up the ball at release point earlier, and already be focused.  It really slows things down and helps with pitch recognition which helps with timing.  A lot of streaky hitters have timing issues.  

 

 

I have never understood looking middle in at 0-0. 2-0 or 3-1 sure. But 0-0 the pitcher is trying to steal a strike to get ahead, and usually that's either with a FB on the outside or a curve in the zone. I'd suggest that your son do tee work or front toss focusing on driving ball oppo every day until he's as comfortable with that as he is with pulling the ball.  And I agree that pulling outside pitches is a great way to ruin your day.

I think streaky hitters are a Little bit of a myth. if you Play two games a week a 0-7 Looks worse than if you Play every day and a 5-8 Looks better if you Play two games a week because that is the only Impression.

if mike trout goes 0-8 in two games nobody notices it because he Plays another game the next day.

there are more volatile hitters but it is probably a relatively minor effect.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/w...itters-are-volatile/

however with younger/lower Level Kids it also can be a mental component, some Players might get so frustrated after 1 or 2 Ks that they lose Focus.

JCG posted:

I have never understood looking middle in at 0-0. 2-0 or 3-1 sure. But 0-0 the pitcher is trying to steal a strike to get ahead, and usually that's either with a FB on the outside or a curve in the zone. I'd suggest that your son do tee work or front toss focusing on driving ball oppo every day until he's as comfortable with that as he is with pulling the ball.  And I agree that pulling outside pitches is a great way to ruin your day.

I am TOTALLY with you.   Come over and knock some sense into the kid's head for me, will 'ya?  

(He's a great kid, don't get me wrong.  And he loves to talk hitting  --indeed everything baseball.) 

He justifies his approach by saying he's not looking to get singles 0-0.  He wants a pitch he can hammer.    Consequently, he's wiling to let "hittable"  pitches that are not in his hot zone  go early in the count if they are not "hammerable."  

But I  say "a hit is a hit."   The  more hits the better.   Especially for a speed guy,  without dinger type power.  

He says doubles and triples are better than weak singles pushed over the second baseman's head. 

I say with his speed and base stealing ability, any  sane coach will want him to be a guy who gets on base with regularity.  IF he gets to first somehow, even on barely beat out singles, there's a decent chance he  ends up on second, anyway.    So go for it.  be more aggressive early. 

He says he's not afraid of 0-1 or 0-2.   He can still get his hits, including hits the other way, from down in the count.  He can also battle back to get the count in his favor. 

I say it's good not to live in fear of any count.  Absolutely.   In fairness to him, I concede that when he is  on one of his "can't miss the ball streaks"  he is  a very good 2-strike hitter.   He  is definitely is no stranger to long battles at the plate. 

Nonetheless.  I say, especially as the pitching gets better and better as you move up higher and higher,  when the pitcher has you 0-1 or 0-2,  he's got you right where he wants you.  He will get you out far more often than not.  So you don't want to get there with any regularity. 

So just think, I say, if you could learn to be as aggressive early on outside pitches in the zone as you are middle-in ....

By now, he's stopped listening or has changed the subject. 

How about those Giants, Dad? 

 

 

Last night Dennis Eckersley was talking about taking pitches. He said growing up when behind late in games coaches had hitters take the first strike. I had a college summer coach like this too.

Eckersley presented a scenario. The pitcher has been pounding the strike zone all night. He's ahead by two or three runs. Now he's really supposed to pound the strike zone. He asked, "What is the benefit of starting 0-1. The pitcher picks up on what the other team is doing and grooves a strike to get ahead."

The taking a strike is slowly going away I think. first pitch swing rates are up compared to a few years ago. of course you don't want to swing at every strike but go up with a plan and look for your pitch and if you get it drive it.

Regarding looking for a pitch there are two strategies:

 

1) look for a pitch in a Location that you like

2) look for a pitch that you expect the pitcher to throw

 

Each strategy as their advantages. The pitch in your sweet Zone will usually result in a better hit. if the pitcher has Little control and misses often that strategy is definitely better. however against good pitchers with strategy 2 you will just see more pitches you sit on, often a pitch that you sit on is easier to hit even if you don't like that side of the plate that well.

 

Which strategy you Choose depends on a few factors:

1) what is the Count

if the Count is 0-0 or 3-1 you can be a Little more picky and wait for a big mistake. if the Count is 1-1 or 0-1 it might be better to wait for something more likely.

2) how good is the pitcher

the more consistent the pitcher is the better the Chance he executes a plan and doesn't give you a cookie

3) do you have Information on the pitcher

if you watched the pitcher already for a couple ABs and he has a clear tendency sit on that. if you didn't see anything you can just as well wait for a pitch you like

4) does the pitcher have Information on you

if you have just turned on an inside pitch you likely get an outside pitch the next time. and if he jammed you he might try it again. if the guy in front of you did something that might influence the pitcher too.

Maybe the kid is turning a corner. Had a  3 for 3 game  today.  Hammered a single to right, stroked a double into  the right field gap,  and then line drive single to left center.   Took what was given to him and did some damage.     Now if he can just take that approach back to school with him in a couple of weeks. 

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