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I am constantly second guessed on this. My opinion. Most school, when ahead in the game, are going to try to get ahead of each batter that last inning on the first pitch. Therefore, a majority of schools are going to throw a fastball. If we take that FB, then we are set up for a breaking or off speed pitch. Then, we often though not intended, stretch the strike zone out and then... Therefore, I want them to hit that first fastball strike. I also want them to hit that first strike provided that they see spin well and get a good swing at it. I'm not one to sit and hope to win the game. We are aggressive. I AM CONSTANTLY REMINDED THAT "GOOD TEAMS" TAKE THAT PITCH. I always wonder what happened to that rule about good teams get good pitches to hit and them drive them? JMHO!
Last edited by CoachB25
I'm basically with CoachB25 here. Up until fairly recently, I had always insisted that my players take a strike when behind late in the ballgame, but I was never really satisfied with that approach. It rarely seemed to produce the intended results. We didn't seem to coax enough walks, and the hitters too often started in the hole and were more vulnerable than ever to the breaking ball. A few years ago I "borrowed" an approach from collegiate baseball legend Gordie Gillespie. I figured if it worked for him for more than 1400 wins at the college level, it should be good enough for me. When behind by 4 or more runs in the 7th inning of 9-inning game (5th inning of a 7 inning game)his hitters can swing at any 1st pitch fastball strike but must lay off any breaking ball. (Just like at any other at bat) However, if the first pitch is a ball, the hitter then must take until a strike is called. Following this pattern, our walks increased, and our hitters, especially with runners on seemed to prosper.
where are you in the line up ?
high pitch count doesnt always say everything , is the pitcher laboring?<mentioned before>
usually though take a strike but the hitter may not be a strong batter when behind on the count might be better off letting stay aggressive on the dead red pitch , which the pitcher might deliver to get ahead on the count...

Go Blaze!!!!
I voted other and disagree with taking until you get a strike, especially if the guy has been around the zone all game. A common misperception is that taking 1st pitches results in a high pitch count. What extends a pitcher is understanding the strike zone, having a plan as a hitter (1-9), and having good ABs (executing your plan).

Pinetar, we use the same plan.
Last edited by redbird5
Allow me to insert another question on this topic.

When I see a batter take 3-0 and go to 3-1, the odds would say that a struggling pithcer would throw the next pitch for a ball. I think this is especially true if he thought the batter was not swinging at the 3-0 and is likely swinging at the 3-1. The "careful " pitcher , scared of the bat, usually throws ball 4.
Do you take twice with the 7-8-9 hole batter. I see many times where I wished we had when we swing at ball 4 .
Originally posted by CoachB25:
I am constantly second guessed on this. My opinion. Most school, when ahead in the game, are going to try to get ahead of each batter that last inning on the first pitch. Therefore, a majority of schools are going to throw a fastball. If we take that FB, then we are set up for a breaking or off speed pitch. Then, we often though not intended, stretch the strike zone out and then... Therefore, I want them to hit that first fastball strike. I also want them to hit that first strike provided that they see spin well and get a good swing at it. I'm not one to sit and hope to win the game. We are aggressive. I AM CONSTANTLY REMINDED THAT "GOOD TEAMS" TAKE THAT PITCH. I always wonder what happened to that rule about good teams get good pitches to hit and them drive them? JMHO!

Great coaching, CoachB.

To do any different is to believe that you can play God or predict the future.

The only thing a coach can do is instruct his hitters on how to get a pitch to hit. He can't tell him when it's coming. You have to be ready when it comes. It may be the first pitch, 5th pitch, 10th pitch.

Be ready, when you get it put your swing on it.

Let the chips fall where they may.
We approach this one according to the pitcher. If it is a pitcher that is starting to tire and is not hitting his spots, then we will take, but not until the 6th or 7th. If the pitcher is still working ahead or the other team brings in a closer that is throwing strikes, we take our normal approach and look to drill the first fastball that catches too much of the plate.
I believe that one of the things you have to avoid in coaching is the double standard. If you preach aggressive and you practice aggressive, then you simply can't ask the team to do anything other than be aggressive. As strange as it might sound, you should make a choice on principle on how you will win and lose. While I certainly don't intend to lose, we will go down with the aggressiveness we have practiced. JMHO!
CoachB, is it really a double standard, or is it just adjusting to the game as it progresses? To be in the position as I set it up, you have to be losing...which means something is not working quite right.

I have always had my guys take until they got a strike if down by two runs or less. We have always felt that usually if the pitcher could get 1 acrossed in this situation, the chances were that they could get another, and that our hitters could then zone up and drive the ball. If the pitcher gets behind in the count, the collar starts to get a little tight, and we have frequently coaxed a walk, which for us usually means we will steal second, negating the possbility of the double play, and getting us into a position to score some runs.

I have recently been reevaluating this position, leaning toward letting a hitter with a 1-0 or 2-0 count zone up and look for a ball to drive. I still like them to take the 1st pitch, mainly to get a good look, but once we are at 2-0, I start getting the itch to turn them loose.
We do not usually get the grooved first pitch in our league. We tend to either get a ball thrown to the corners, or 1 or 2 wide....that is why I have tended in the direction I have.

I think that no matter what approach is employed, like most things in the game, if you are successful you will be a temporary genius, and if not, you will be second guessed.
Well if that is the only good pitch in the at bat, there is a good chance we will still have a runner on first....third game of the season this year, lead off hitter, after being told to take until there was a strike swings at the first pitch, lining it directly into the stationary centerfielders pitch, one out, and did his own thing.

There are different strategies out there, and I asked a question, I did not make a pronouncement. The issue is what is the best method to get "TWO" will not make a difference in the scenerio outlined. I think it is appropriate to consider the level of competition you are encountering when making decisions on an issue like this. If the pitcher is going to challenge on the first pitch, why do you automatically anticipate that they will not challenge the hitter with a strike on them? I trust my hitters to be able to handle hitting with a strike on them.
Tiger3boy, I didn't mean to offend you. Your response seems to suggest that I did. It is a matter of what you preach. If your approach is what you practice then, no it isn't a double standard. Simply put, we preach aggression! We played a team the other day that had given up 3 stolen bases on the year. The reason = their catcher had an absolute hose! I looked at the boys and said we have our work cut out for us today. They all laughed = I won't back down. He threw us out our first attempt. Coach came over and bragged that no one can run on them. We stole 7 bases that game. I only used the phrase double standard because I/my staff have made certain promises to our kids. We will run every chance we get. We will not play "good baseball" and hope to win. We will be aggressive in every phase of the game. Then, we practice it. That is all that I'm saying. Good luck this year!

I want my hitters ready to hit. I like and employ the method that pinetar described because I used it in college and we were very strong when we were behind by less than 3 in the last inning. In that method, the first pitch is yours to hit. If its a ball, you take until you get a strike (and keep an advantage count). Otherwise, you are hacking at FBs you can hammer.

FWIW, if my leadoff hitter hit a rope at the CF (provided he made a good decision), I'd pat him on the butt and say good job. Now...if you gave him the take sign and he swung away, he would walk away from the game with less butt than he had at the start.

Your answer depends on your belief system and also depends on the pitcher. I have just seen the ol' "take until you get a strike" method go like this too many times:

FB belt high...take...0-1
CB in dirt...swing...0-2
FB up and in...take...1-2
CB low / away...K

I'd rather see a line drive from my 1st hitter that inning and watch the P squeeze the ball a little tighter.
FWIW, Here is my opinion. Please, not looking for an argument, but there seems to be different opinions here. For sure, I hope no one thinks the individual hitter’s stats are more important than the game.

I believe very much in percentage baseball. That said, both ways have worked and both ways have failed in the past. From a hitters standpoint I need to beat the pitcher. From a coaches standpoint I know pitchers sometimes beat themselves. Seen it at every level including the Big Leagues!

Tigerboy’s poll:

7th inning, trailing by two, pitcher on the hill with a high pitch you have players
Take until they have a strike
Take until count is in hitters favor
Swing at ball in the wheelhouse
Treat as a normal at bat

First of all. The high pitch count is not an important factor. This is the same situation with the starter in the game or if the closer just entered.

Some very "knowledgable posters" have said they treat this as a normal AB or swing at the strike fastball. Their opinion should be respected because they bring up some valid points. However, hope no one minds that I disagree in this case.

To me baseball is a game of percentages and situations. For example, no matter how aggressive your team might play, would you attempt stealing 2B if your leadoff hitter got on base and he had a 95% SB success rate in the above situation?

Would you give the opponent a 5% chance for an out despite the fact that both your base runner and hitter have to score or you lose the game? I really doubt most coaches would attempt a stolen base unless they were giving it to you.

Everyone who’s ever coached can relate to what you want your pitcher to do, up by two or more in the last inning. Worst thing he can do is walk the leadoff hitter. Normally, unless the hitter goes 0-2 count he will see more fastballs to hit. So if the 1st pitch is called a strike, the 2nd pitch becomes the most important pitch in the AB. We could go "count" logic for ever, but were talking about a specific situation.

The pitcher loves the one pitch out in this situation. Especially when this hitter can’t beat him.

There are only so many ways to reach base. Walk, Hit, Hit by Pitch, Error, 3rd Strike PB/WP.

Hitters need to understand their job. In most cases the job of the hitter leading off an inning is to “get on base”.

In the situation Tigerboy asked about, getting on base is the only job. In normal situations I would agree with those who say jump on the first pitch strike fastball. In this situation I would be taking a strike.

By hitting the first pitch I’ve eliminated two options for getting on base. And we still need another run besides the one the leadoff hitter represents.

Even with taking first pitch called a strike, I have all the possibilities left for getting on base.

It is understood that this can put the hitter at a disadvantage, but the %s of winning the game are better by taking a strike in most cases. Would you take a strike if your team was four runs down in the same situation?

Swing = Basehit – Error – OUT - 0-1 count – 1-0 count
Take = 0-1 count – 1-0 count
Being 0-1 doesn’t mean you won’t reach base
Does being 1-0 mean you swing at the next strike?
How about if your hitter goes 2-0, do you swing or take in this situation?

If you were 3-0 count leading off this inning would you want your hitter hitting the BP fastball right down the middle or taking the pitch? Afterall, it will probably be the best pitch to hit he will see that day.

One more thing, What if the above situation was a three run difference and your leadoff hitter was on first base. (Tying run on deck) Would you have your next hitter take a strike or swing at the first good pitch?

Besides the other results mentioned earlier now you add the Double Play possibility into the mix of negatives.

Yes, the hitter might hit a home run off that first pitch. Guess what... you still lose unless that on deck hitter scores. These are situations where the walk is actually as good as a hit and a basehit is nearly as good as a home run. Of course, that’s if we’re talking about the game rather than the hitter.

I love aggressive players and hitters. In fact, I don’t think you can be a great hitter unless you have “controlled” aggressiveness. It’s just the game sometimes tells you to do something different.

There are isolated cases where I might want the leadoff hitter in the above situation swinging the bat, But it would be rare.

Anyone ever been in these situations from the pitchers point of view and noticed umpires all of a sudden pinching the strike zone? Even the umpire can help you win if you take a strike in this situation.
Sorry if I came acrossed as being peeved. When I read what I typed it did come acrossed that way. It is interesting that PGStaff used the term "controlled aggression", because that is exactly the term I used in practice Tuesday to express the idea I had in mind with my hitters.

The leadoff batter did get a bit of a backside chewing for swinging despite having the take sign, but I didn't chew too vigorously because he is a Freshmen. (Small school, limited talent pool, and he really can swing it...but only when he is in the leadoff spot.)

In Saturday's game we had this situation come up again, and this time he took one (To make the count 2-1) and became frustrated for having to take a strike, losing his focus, and diminishing his concentration. What I have been rethinking, is that with his level of aggression (which I really do like) he should have called time, and asked about swinging at 2-0...because I was sort of thinking the same thing. I am guessing he didn't know that was an option (my fault for not making that clear), and thus the thinking that started this thread.

One of my favorite things about the game is that there really is not ONE way to do everything, and that we as coaches are constantly challenged to adapt and learn.
I'll say again that it really has to be taken on a case by case basis. If the pitcher looks sharp, is throwing strikes and is throwing first pitch fastballs they'll have the green light. If the pitcher looks fatigued, has not been throwing a lot of strikes, has been going off speed on the first pitch fairly often then I'm probably going to have the hitter take. It also depends on the hitter. A kid who tends to swing at bad pitches will be given the take sign. A kid with a good eye will be allowed to swing.

As far as the 95% success rate kid on first, I'll have the hitter take a pitch while that kid steals. I'll trade eliminating the force at second and the double play against the 1 in 20 chance of being out. I wouldn't have an 8 of 10 kid steal.

On the other hand with 2 outs and down by 2 the baserunner is not stealing.
Give the take sign.

The hitter takes a pitch right through his happy zone.

It's 0-1.

How do you both feel?

ALL of PG's options for getting on base still exist. But the percentage of each one occuring just got less.

Is it more important to have ALL options open, or better percentages on the most likely to happen options.

I don't believe anyone is saying swing at the first pitch. They are saying swing at the first pitch you like.....your happy pitch.
Last edited by Teacherman
On the defensive side of this equation, I want my pitcher to continue to pour the ball through the strike zone and trust our defense. Get ahead of hitters and keep the pressure on the offense.

Many teams go with the "take until you get a strike" approach so even a FB down the middle serves to :

1) get ahead 0-1
2) frustrate a hitter who may not have swung at a good pitch all game...he finally gets one and the coach has him taking. Many times, he gets into a negative mind frame (note his body language) and cannot recover in the AB. This hitter is suceptible to the followup CB or CU.

3) Let the offense know that your bats will have to beat us. We will not beat ourselves.

This approach is also based upon our ability to shut down the running game as well as my confidence in my defense to get us out of a situation.
Last edited by redbird5
Exactly on the pitching approach. The only difference is that the better pitchers can throw a better pitch - location and/or velocity and/or movement - on that first pitch and still be pretty sure of throwing a strike. I think according to the stats that Stanford keeps 50% of first pitches are taken.
Last edited by CADad
2 Things! Then I give. Smile


IMO - Being thrown out 1 out of 10 times in this situation is 1 time too many. The base stealer is not even the tying run. This would be giving the opponents a "free" chance for an out. I sure hope the first time a coach tries this isn't the 1 time the runner is thrown out. Talk about some unhappy fans!

Sometimes pitchers will ignore the baserunner in this situation and just give him 2B. That's the only time the SB is worth staying out of the double play. If I ever see this done (without just giving the runner the base) at a high level, I will come back on here and eat crow.

In the past we have done the following. Two runs up, last inning, one opposing runner at 2B. Automatic pickoff over throwing 2B to the CF. Our hope was the runner would break for 3B and give us a "free" chance for an out.

If that didn't work we would balk him to 3B. This was done to get him out of the way of making a ground ball a tougher play for our SS. Very slight advantage, but never-the-less a very slight advantage. We wanted every possible advantage we could get. The hitter was all that counted in this situation.


The hitter hits the first pitch and flies out deep. I don't know how the hitter feels, but I know how I would feel if I were the coach. If just hitting the ball well would guarantee me a baserunner, that would be a different story.

I agree with hitters being aggressive and selective, but they do make mistakes at times. And sometimes they do what they're supposed to and hit screamers that turn into outs. The above mentioned should not be one of those times in the situation we're discussing. I've also seen many hitters who have walked after being behind 0-1 in the count.

It's only the situation where the hitter is not at least the tying run in the final inning that I'm talking about. I've had teams in that situation many times over the years, as has most all who have coached a long time. People do it differently, but most if down a bit more will take a strike.

I will say there are certain hitters and certain pitchers that could change my opinion slightly. But with the hitter "taking" a strike, it eliminates the human error factor of swinging at something other than that "happy pitch".

What I'm saying isn't the gospel, it's just the way I would do it. No problem if others do it differently.
This is a discussion, not an argument so nobody wins, nobody loses and nobody needs to give up or continue for that matter. Smile

What I'd really do is size up the runner vs. the catcher and pitcher and if I were certain he was going to get the steal I'd let him go. If there was any doubt then I wouldn't give the steal sign. Hard to say if a runner is 95% or 90% against a given battery and I really have no idea what the probability of hitting into a double play or having the force at second be a much easier play than the force at first is. It is a judgement call as a coach.

The situation I hate is a slow runner on first and a slow runner at the plate, where you're darned if you do and darned if you don't.
Last edited by CADad
Speaking of stats regarding counts.

I saw some statistics regarding 0 strike batting average, 1 strike batting average and 2 strike batting average.

Of course the 2 strike average was much much the lowest.

DUH!!!! Of course... You can't strike out with 0 strikes or 1 strike.

Another study I saw (might have been Stanford, not sure) took the strikeouts out of the 2 strike figures. The batting ave. with 2 strikes was actually higher than with 1 strike.

I don't know what this all means! If anything. Smile
Originally posted by PGStaff:
...but they do make mistakes at times...

And so do pitchers.

IMHO, your type of coaching is based on the fact that you believe you can force the pitcher into less than desirable situations.

Nothing is farther from the truth. What happens, happens. If he gets behind, it has nothing to do with you (the coach). It has to do with a disciplined hitter laying off pitches he should take and swinging at pitches he should swing at. If the pitcher is throwing the ball over the plate you have to swing. If he's not you have to take.

This situation doesn't change a hitters approach. It magnifies the results of a good approach...........and a bad one.

Win some, lose some. But the odds improve over time if you do the right thing.
Last edited by Teacherman
It means, unless you are a good contact hitter, ala Ted Williams, it isn't a good idea to take a good pitch to hit on the first pitch. You're going to hit about the same when you put the ball in play so if you get a good pitch to hit on the first pitch, go right ahead because you'll never strike out when you put the first pitch in play.

I used that study on here to show why it did pay to take on 3-0 in most but not all situations.

For example, needing one run to win a game with a runner on third you might go ahead and swing at a good pitch. Walking in that situation increases the probability of scoring multiple runs but doesn't necessarily increase your chances of scoring just the one run you need by much.
A little different situation, but as far as the baserunning is concerned, Boston sent Roberts in the 9th inning in last years playoff. They only needed one run. But similar in the tightness and meaning of the game.

Whenever I analyze situations I first make a decision based on MY side of the story. Then, I analyze the other side. The other teams point of view. You'll be surprised how often you see their fear as greater than your desire.

In other words, if I'm analyzing the other teams viewpoint and I am facing a 95% basestealer, I'm dreading they send him. If I'm analyzing my teams viewpoint, and it's my player, I may be nervous and not send him. Which way is correct? Probably neither BUT, this is where CoachB25's philosophy comes in. Go with what you do and teach. If we teach steals, do it. What sense does it make to teach it and build your team around it and then have a very fast runner on first and not send him.

95% is very high odds. If you can't pull the trigger then then you better find other work. No matter the situation.
Last edited by Teacherman

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