Fixing Eric Hosmer

Hosmer has been very inconsistent over the last years. But what can it be attributed to? His plate discipline is pretty fine as he is having a single digit K-BB% rate (league average 14%). Also his Max EV is above average at 112 as is his average EV.

The issue is obviously the angle he is hitting the balls at and  that is no secret of course. His average Launch angle is just 3.5 degrees while the league average is 12.5. But it doesn’t stop there, his LA actually gets worse when you look at low pitches (0) or pulled balls (-4) or the worst pulled and low (-6). That means he basically can’t effectively hit anything inside or anything low which is a huge problem for his power output.

Now obviously he could adjust by never swinging at anything low or inside and short term that is probably what he should do but long term that is not a viable strategy first because pitchers will adjust leading to a too high called strike percentage and second  and second because pulled balls tend to yield a higher power output.

So to get back on track with consistency and not just hope for some babip and HR/FB luck like he did in some of his good years he needs to cover the zone better and be able to drive the ball in the air in all 4 corners of the zone. He doesn’t have to be an extreme FB guy but he should be able to hit middle range line drive balls (15-20 degrees) all over the zone gap to gap. I wouldn’t try to make him a pull hitter but at least he must be able to hit high liners to the pull gap consistently.


Hosmer did state in interviews that he did try to work on stuff to increase his LA so of course he is aware however changes in that direction if they happened at all were only short lived.


So let’s look at his movements a little. IMO the issue he has is not a too bad attack angle. It is a bit on the flat side but it isn’t really negative and other guys do have success with flat-ish swings, for example Stanton, Vlad jr and soto who have flatter swings and still have decent launch angles.–KU


yeah his AA probably should be a few degrees higher but it certainly is not explaining outrageously low launch angles.


There are two other really big issues that I see.

The first one is his posture on lower pitches.  If you compare him to trout trout has almost twice as much side bend on a pitch in the lower third as hosmer has


trouts bat isn’t really pointing down either

but is pretty parallel to the top of his shoulders but due to his side bend he has a much steeper vertical bat angle. This bat angle means that he is not topspinning low balls but staying through them and hitting them straight.

This posture issue leads to a too flat vertical bat angle on lower pitches and thus roll overs  which is explained here


To work on side bend here are some drills


First work on isolating forward bend to side bend transition

then do some thoracic flexibility work

and some dry posture turns

Also this great progression by baseball rebellion

and then  some drills to integrate into the swing


There are also devices like the “Quant tee” which can help to force a steeper VBA but I think first the posture issue should be fixed.



The second issue I see is some instability in both his lower and upper body.


here you can see that his spine angle isn’t really super consistent and the legs aren’t super stable either. This can affect barrel accuracy and cause an inconsistent VBA through the zone.

I would recommend here some work on decel and anti rotation like for example stop swings

half swings which is basically swinging the arms to extension after contact that then swing the extended arms about a foot or two without rolling over (arms can re-flex a little but should stay mostly extended)

med ball Decel (first drill in video)


and for the front leg this drill

Those stability and posture issues should  already help him on the inside pitch too because it helps him to create space but additionally he could also do the good old cano drill and work on hitting inside pitches in the air with that drill

and maybe as a movement preparation this drill


Those are only a few suggestions and there is more stuff you can do but I think I could outline why it probably wasn’t so easy for him to make a change and just hit the ball higher. Some people in the media questioned his willingness to change but I seriously doubt that someone in 2021 is not knowing the value of proper launch angle after thousands of statcast batted ball events and every mlb team having an analytics department. But I think with a few changes to his movement with very focused training in the offseason he can make the change and become a productive MLB hitter for the next years.

How improved plate coverage could reduce k rate

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about baseball having a strikeout problem. Not everyone agrees with that but strikeout rate in MLB is at an all-time high.

Increased K rate didn’t really lead to reduced scoring though since increasing power did offset the reduction in contact. For example in the last 3 years the runs scored average 4.6 runs per game which is  less than the super high scoring around the year 2000 but higher than most years of the 70s to mid 90s before the steroid era kicked in.

This can be attributed to some ball changes but also player development maximizing output per ball in play with optimizing swing path, often called the launch angle or fly ball revolution and also players got stronger, bigger and lifted more weights increasing raw power as well are modern tools like overload and underload training which is an adoption of the weighted balls driveline has introduced 

Those things did help to keep scoring up however it now also starts to reach limits, you only can raise your launch angle so much and get so much stronger. For example league ISO peaked in 2019 and while the recent reduction is probably related to the attempted deadening of the ball it still seems a limit of power output has been reached or at least close to that.

That means to keep scoring up players will either to increase walks or halt the rising of strikeouts. While there are now tools like VR technology to increase plate discipline like this one and this can help pitchers are offsetting that with concepts like tunneling which will make pitch recognition harder. Since walk rate has essentially been constant the last 30 years at 8 to 9% it seems that is an area where you can gain a little but not a huge amount.

While walks didn’t really change in the last 30 years K% certainly did and went up from 15% in the early 90s to 24% this year.

So when power is close to maxed out and walks hardly ever change the thing to attack obviously is strikeout rate and we actually did see that in the last 2-3 years. For example the 2017 WS champion Astros and 2018 champions Boston had the lowest K rate in the league, the 2019 Nats were 5th lowest and the 2020 Dodgers were 3rd lowest. Now this is no guarantee and we still see some bad teams near the top of those low K leaderboards like the 2019 pirates but generally lowering Ks while keeping power at a good level seems to be a good recipe. We did see that with individual players too where good hit tool guys with mediocre power increased some launch angle and got a little stronger and put up good power numbers despite modest maximum Exit velocities (Bregman, Altuve, Murphy even Betts).

The question now is how can we reduce a players strikeout rate. One theory is that swinging for higher launch angles increases strikeouts but I only found a mild negative effect of launch angle on contact

It seems that contact rate to some degree is an innate skill that is not super easy to change. There is some stuff you can do like shortening up the swing or also practicing against high velo machines but there are limits to that. You also can try to reduce chase rate with tools like the mentioned VR tools since outside the zone contact is around 20-25 percentage points lower than inside the zone contact.

However a really interesting stat that has been recently discussed a lot is called strikes%+swinging strikes% (CSW%). This stat basically adds swinging strikes and called strikes and has a pretty good correlation with pitching success, for example last year the leader was Jacob deGrom with 34%. That makes sense because both a called strike and a swinging strike leads you to fall behind in the count and in tune to more strikeouts.

However this still needed to be verified with hitters since with hitters different factors than just contact play a role, especially power.

I looked at the top and bottom quartile of hitters in ISO, wRC+, K% and OBP.

The strongest effect seen was unsurprisingly in K%. The top Quartile of hitters from 2018-2021 to date had a 24.3% CSW% vs 29.1% for the bottom one. Overall the Pearson correlation between CSW% and K% was a strong 0.79. In OBP and wRC+ the effect was weaker but still in favor of the lower CSW% players while in ISO actually the higher CSW% guys had more power. This might be a selection effect as only powerful players with a high CSW% can survice but also maybe related to players being more selective inside the zone and thus improving their batted ball quality as middle pitches tend to be hit harder than pitches toward the edges of the zone.

This leads to an interesting conclusion for player development. In my opinion players with a high CSW% (only 2 of the top30 in wRC+ where above the critical 30% and only 7 above the league average of around 28%) should work on their plate coverage so they can drive more pitches within the zone well and also work on their pitch speed coverage, especially the ability to hit badly located “get me over” breaking balls early in the count when you are usually looking fastball as a hitter. This will reduce the batted ball quality a little but if you have the swing to cover different zones and speeds well this effect can be kept in  check.

Simultaneously that player should also work on pitch recognition to not increase his chase rate too much as he is more aggressive within the zone. A good example of this is Nick Castellanos. He does have a high swinging strike rate (16% last two years while league average is around 11%) but he has a low called strike percentage (around 11% the last years with league average being 16%). This gives him a respectable 23% career strikeout rate despite his big swing and miss issue and his swing is good enough in covering the zone that his batted ball quality didn’t suffer too much (.332 BABIP and .203 ISO for his career). Typically players who have a swinging strike rate of 16% will strike out more like 30% or even more.

On the other hand players with a low swinging strike rate can afford to be a little more selective within the zone and only hit balls in their  hot zones to increase their batted ball quality. Mike Trout is the prime example of this. His swinging strike rate is very low at 6.7% and he is famously good at low pitches and just OK (formerly very bad) on high pitches so he can afford to take a lot of high pitches and target low pitches for a high 20% called strike rate. This means his K rate is slightly higher than it could be if he covered more of the zone but really since his swinging strike rate is so low he doesn’t have to and rather has about an average strikeout rate with off the charts batted ball quality because he only swings at the pitches he can really crush (slightly below the zone up to middle).

He can only afford that though because his swinging strike rate is so low, if he whiffed at a league average rate his approach likely would lead to a 30+% strikeout rate.

Elite contact players with limited power like Madrigal actually should be more selective within the zone since their contact quality is not great to begin with and by focusing on the heart of the zone they can improve that a little zone heart wOBA is better than edge wOBA and they can afford to give up a few more strikes as their contact skill is so great.

CSW% is always composed of swinging and called strikes, so the less swinging strikes you have the more selective you can be within the zone and the more you whiff the more you  should cover the zone to keep strikeouts in check. A CSW% of more than 30% is always a big red flag for a hitter or a hitting prospect and the low hanging fruit (well kinda low hanging since you need to keep chase rate in check) is to cover more of the zone and give the pitcher less “free” strikes if you have a whiff problem.

Obviously this isn’t that easy, as I already said it needs to be accompanied by working on pitch recognition to keep chase rate in check and also working on a clean bat path to all corners of the zone so you can drive the ball straight and not roll over and yank it into the shift.

So to summarize here is what I suggest for hitters with swing and miss issues to reduce their CSW% and strike out less:

1. Working on plate coverage to be able to hit a wide array of pitches to give pitchers less free strikes while keeping batted ball quality up
2. Working on pitch recognition to keep chase rate in check
3. Practice against a wide array of speeds and spins to be able to handle modern pitchers stuff.

There is still value of patience within the zone and not getting yourself out on a pitchers pitch, especially if you have great contact ability and the pitcher is not good but the old sit on your pitch type and location until two strikes might not do so well against modern top pitchers who can throw any pitch in any count. You need to at least be able to cover one thing (big zone one pitch type or small zone two pitch types) because just sitting FB in a certain location means you are not guessing right often enough, especially since you will foul off some of them too.  Exception from that might be 0-0 or 3-0 when you don’t plan to swing much anyway.

5 week batspeed challenge


Measure either batspeed or EV or ideally both before program and then again at the end of each week or if you can’t just at the end again. Day 1 can be any day of the week so you don’t have to start on Monday. Read program and watch videos so you can see the drills. Also do you own lifting program and sprinting and throwing as often as you want.

The drills

  1. OL UL swings

You need a game bat, a bat about 6-7 oz lighter than that  and one 6-7 heavier. For the lighter one a youth bat works, for the heavier one you can tape some pennies or other stuff to a wood bat, preferably around the balance point of the bat to not change balance. Swing max effort, tee, live pitch or machine work





  1. Step back turn drill

Use this drill as dry swing at max effort after warm up to work on separation


  1. Hook em drill

Driveline drill that I think originally was a pitching drill. Promotes weight shift




  1. Med ball progression

Part 1

Part  2

1. Step back shot put 2. Elbows out rotational 3. Reverse overhead 4. Overhead 5. Decel 6. Vertical upward thrust 7. Reverse throw


Mechanics stuff for warm up


1 . one arm drills

-top hand ball clamp

-bottom hand (make sure front elbow works up before bat starts to go back and down


  1. stop swings


  1. front arm clamp drill (use connection ball or volleyball, see about 4:50 in this video


4 Cano drill


  1. 45 degree open stance oppo hitting drill

Teaches swing direction for outside pitch. Stand about 45 degrees open (feet line turned to 3b man for RHB) and still hit ball oppo




  1. 4 corners drill

Place tee on all 4 corners and hit 3 good balls on each location. Non ideal contact swing is repeated






Hitting Warm up

  1. One hand swings 5 reps each arm
  2. Stop swings 5 reps each
  3. Front arm clamp drill 6 reps
  4. Hook em drill 6 reps
  5. Cano drill 6 reps
  6. Open stance oppo 6 reps
  7. 4 corners drill


Week 1


Day 1: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 6 reps

Day 2: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*4 reps c) ol ul 2*6 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 3: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 6 reps

Day 4: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*4 reps c) ol ul 2*6 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 5: off

Day 6: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*4 reps c) ol ul 2*6 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 7: off


Week 2


Day 1: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 8 reps

Day 2: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*8 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 3: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 8 reps

Day 4: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*8 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 5: off

Day 6: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*8 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 7: off









Week 3


Day 1: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 10 reps

Day 2: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*10 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 3: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 10 reps

Day 4: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*10 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 5: off

Day 6: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*10 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 7: off


Week 4


Day 1: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 12 reps

Day 2: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*12 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 3: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 12 reps

Day 4: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*12 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 5: off

Day 6: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*5 reps c) ol ul 2*12 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 7: off


Week 5


Day 1: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 6 reps

Day 2: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*4 reps c) ol ul 2*6 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 3: Med ball drills each drill 2 sets of 6 reps

Day 4: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*4 reps c) ol ul 2*6 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 5: off

Day 6: hitting a) warm up b) step back turn drill 2*4 reps c) ol ul 2*6 reps of each game, ol and ul bat

Day 7: off







A streamlined process to integrate new players into an organisation

I’m proposing a system designed to integrate new players whether it is college or minors better into the organisation. Traditionally players often would play games right away but I’m suggesting you can use those first months better.

If changes have to be made, why not make them right away? First be realistic what changes are possible. In a team setting you can make changes but compared to a private instructor who works several hours a week with just one hitter of course it is limited, so make sure you only change things that really need a change and leave the other stuff alone, don’t waste “change potential” on unimportant style things.

After that is established you need a series of markers that you think do correlate with success and can be changed.

An easy and cheap way to get some markers is getting some swing sensors like blast. Important markers can be for example attack angle, vertical barrel angle, batspeed and maybe one of the compound scores like on plane percentage. Barrel path is very important and a bad path means you waste some potential. Here is an article about swing sensors.

Another marker you can use is measuring the kinetic chain and acceleration and deceleration of the segments using for example kvest.

Additionally you also can use a small amount of video markers from defined angles and of course also use tech to evaluate launch angles, spray angles and exit velo.

Also evaluate some physical markers like strength and mobility, for example using the on baseU screening because that can affect mechanics.

Of course there are many more ways to evaluate, most important is that you pick some markers that are important and most importantly that you can change, so be realistic about that and don’t do to much.

After you have done that I’m suggesting doing like a 6-7 weeks mechanics and movement block.  First you evaluate what the hitters already do well, so in a team setting you can leave that alone. Second you evaluate what the hitters are lacking and you put them on an indivudual contraint drill and movement plan. You can group similar hitters together using similar excercises but also have some competely personal excercises.

For example here I have a list of contraint drills but of course you can come up with many more.

For example the quant tee is a nice device to work on VBA

Also do mobility and strength drills to work on specific weaknesses.

After that phase I suggest starting to work on batspeed using overload/underload training and also doing a blocked variability training working on coverage of specific locations (up, down, in out) and speeds. I’m suggesting blocked here because that way you can coach more hands on the mechanics for those locations and speeds and fine tune them.

I’m suggesting going blocked here for about 4 weeks and at the same time you continue the constraint drills from the first phase and start overload underload. Measure EV and LA off different locations to find weaknesses and improve them as the goal should be to cover most of the zone if not all of it as that makes you tougher to pitch to.

Here I have articles to work on hitting the outside pitch and also the important topic of hitting pulled balls into the air which helps power.

After that phase you start random variability training, hitting game speed and spin in variable location. You continue the constraint drills, overload underload and a small amount of blocked variability training (especially on your weaknesses).

Also start to bring the hitters together with the pitchers and do live at bats. That way you can get more reps than in games and also come back and coach between those ABs more closely. You are also doing some work on fielding specific to the positions of course as well as athleticism training and throwing.

Within those live ABs you use hittrax or another system to track the batter’s profiles.  In this article I defined the ranges players should be in.

If you hit those ranges like about a 15 degree average LA, sub 40% GB rate and 40-45% pull rate with at least 30% air ball pull rate you often maximize your potential that way. Hitting those ranges is no guarantee to be great but it maximizes your output. Players who are off on one of the markers are doing specific drills to get closer to the correct ranges.

That way you optimize your hitters and you avoid having Eric Hosmer types who are talented but limited through their batted ball profile.

You can also work on stuff like vision and plate discipline training with different softwares that are available as well as on field drills.

Here is a collection of methods


It is important that all coaches are pulling the same direction. The goal is not creating cloned hitters but hitters who hit the important checkpoints and have some pop, discipline and can cover the whole plate.

Ideally IMO those players shouldn’t play games the first 3 months or at least two if possible. Oprimize their movement, barrel path and batted ball profile first before putting them in games and then give them some homework to do for the offseason so they can continue to work on that. That way you should be able to create big improvement and a great development system.

Profiling the ideal 2019 hitter

Data driven player development is getting bigger and bigger. Of course data isn’t everything and you still have to actually get to those things but having controllable target ranges is an important thing in all quality control systems, as they don’t guarantee success but they are showing you whether you are on the right track or moving in the wrong direction.

If you control for those variables and make sure that the values are in the correct range early in the minors you are making sure that you don’t have issues like Eric Hosmer where you have a talented hitter with his potential held back by a less than ideal batted ball profile.

So if I was a hitting coordinator of an MLB org I would first make sure I have the correct target ranges for my hitters because there a lot of ideas about what is are good ranges and some of them are even influenced by data and science but the best way to judge that is probably to look what the best hitters in the world actually do.

Now the question is what sample do you use. One option would be to look at the very best guys. Old school youth coaches used to say “that MLB hitter is a physical freak, don’t copy him” but I think that take is very bad, in the last years we have learned a lot of players have the potential to hit 25+ homers for example and this is partially due to the ball but also more hitters using a fly ball geared approach for power. However still it is probably good to look at a larger sample to correct for outliers in the profile.

I have chosen to look at the top33 hitters. There isn’t a super scientific reason for this except those are all above a 130 wRC+ and you create nice thirds from that number to set bottom and top of the range. What I did was looking at the top 33 hitters. I used wOBA though and not wRC+ since that is offered by statcast too and I was too lazy to import it in SQL and write a join, so I just used wOBA even if it has a disadvantage due to not accounting for park factors. Realistically this doesn’t really matter anyway as the correct ranges aren’t a matter of a couple tenths, i.e. it is totally irrelevant whether your GB% is 38% or 38.6%, what matters is that you are about in the right range.

To set the bottom and the top I have looked at the average of the bottom 11 and the top 11, with top and bottom not meaning the best and worst hitters but all values existing in that population sorted from top to bottom. Later I looked also if there is a trend within those top 33 to make a recommendation whether players should strive more for the lower or upper boundary.

Values I have looked at are the more outcome based metrics wOBA, AVG, OBP, SLG, HR and ISO, plate discipline numbers K, BB and K-BB% (could have used contact and o-swing% but didn’t because that isn’t available for every level). And finally I looked at batted ball data: GB%, avg LA, avg EV, max EV, Pull%, Cent%, and Air ball pull%.

So let’s go through most of those values starting with the basic outcome ones.

The top 33 hitters averaged 34 homers. The lower third averaged 26 while the upper third averaged 43. Power is clearly a need to be a top hitter in the modern game. Sorted by wOBA the top guys averaged 38 vs 31 for the bottom third, so more power is clearly a performance factor even within the top guys.

With ISO the average was .267 with a high end of .312 and a low end of .227. Again here we are seeing a performance trend with the top wOBA guys having a .296 ISO vs .244 for the bottom range, not unsurprisingly the better guys have more power again.

With OBP the average is .383 with  a bottom of the range at .361 and a top of .408. Again we clearly see a performance trend with .406 and .366 as the upper and lower ranges sorted by wOBA basically matching the OBP rankings.

Batting average is a controversial topic in baseball. Traditional fans think it is the holy grail while some sabermetrics fans say that it doesn’t matter. It is true that BA is a bad stat for judging hitters and high walk and power low AVG guys are better than many no power .300 hitters. However if you look at the top 33 hitters the average was .296 with the best 11 being at .318 and the worst 11 being at .276. By wOBA you still see some positive effect of BA with the top11 being at .305 vs .289 for the bottom but the effect unsurprisingly isn’t nearly as strong as with OBP which simply is a better indicator. Still only 3 guys in the top 33 were below .270 so if you want to be an elite hitter you better have at least a 55 hit tool (.270) and if you want to be an MVP caliber hitter you better have a 65+ hit tool. Yes it is true that BA alone is a bad measurement but it also isn’t true that .260 hitters with patience and power are dominating baseball like some traditionalists rant because the top guys have power AND hit for average. The hit tool isn’t everything but it still is probably the pivotal tool in player development because OBP and slugging are also hinging on it.

The next controversial subject is K rate. We don’t really see a strong correlation with K rate and performance across MLB because there is a selection bias, i.e. low power guys that strike out are weeded out in the minors. With the top 33 however we don’t see super low Ks but the 19% is clearly below the league average of 23%. Here the top of the range is 13.8% vs. 24.8% for the bottom. Sorted by wOBA here we are seeing a performance trend with the top 11 being at 17% vs 20% for the bottom. Here now we see the correlation because the top33 all have power and when you have power lower Ks is better, it is just not worth to sacrifice power for contact. In this article I stated already that lowering Ks while keeping the power is an untapped reserve for player development

With walks the average of 11% is clearly above the league average of 9%. This is partially due to plate discipline but also fear of the pitchers as the top 33 have both a lower chase rate (29.2% vs 31.6%) and zone rate (40.3% vs 41.6%) than the league average. Here the top range is 14.8% vs 7.7% at the bottom. We are also seeing a performance trend with the top being at 13% and the bottom at 10%, you can be elite without walking a lot (9 guys in the top 33 are sub average) still above average plate discipline is to be preferred especially since it also helps other metrics.

Another stat I like is K-BB%. It is used for pitchers but I like it for hitters too as high walk with low walks hitters are a risk (albeit not always a fail as we saw with Acuna and Tatis jr who both had very bad K-BB rates in the minors). Here the average was 7.9 which is way lower than the league average of around 14%. Here the lower range is 3.4 and the upper range 10.6 and there is again a strong performance effect with the top being at 4.2 vs 10.9 for the bottom. Having an elite (sub 5%) K-BB% is an extremely strong foundation for success in hitting whether it is 20/18 like Trout or 10/7 like Altuve type hitters.

Now we are getting to the more interesting part if you made it this far in the article. Those are values that can’t just be maximized but optimized making it more complicated for player development because it is possible to shoot past the target.

Let’s start with exit velo. Here of course again more is better. The top 33 average 90.3 MPH which is above the MLB average of 88.7. The top 11 are at 92.5 while the bottom are basically league average at 88.5. No performance effect is seen though in wOBA however the only one clearly below average was Jose Altuve at 85.7. For player development this means you need to avoid being clearly below average as guys like Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon are at the bottom of those boards every year.

Even more interesting for player development is probably peak exit velocity. Here the top 33 average 112.6 MPH with the upper range being at 116 and the lower range at 109. There isn’t an effect on performance within the top 33 but those 110 are a baseline that you should be able to hit if you want to be an elite hitter, only 8 of the 33 weren’t able to hit 110 MPH this year. Even a better indicator would probably be an average of the top 10 hardest hit balls but that isn’t as easily available and like throwing 100 you can’t really fake hitting a ball 110 because the pitch speed only adds about 15 MPH to exit velo vs a stationary ball so the majority of the impact is batspeed and not redirecting pitch velo.

Now we must of course talk about launch angle as this is often called the flyball revolution. For GB rate the average is 39% which is below the league average of around 42. Lower  range here is 33 and upper range 45%. There is some performance impact as the best guys have a 37% GB rate vs 41% for the top. This means you should probably strive for a sub 40% GB rate albeit the very low GB rate guys around 30% tend to have low-ish BABIPs, so a mid to high 30s in most cases is probably better.

With LA the top 33 are again ahead of the league. League average has climbed steadily but average is around 12% still and the 33 are at 14%. Top range here is 18 and bottom 10. Even within the top 33 there is some performance effect of a higher LA with the top being at 15.2 vs 13.4. It seems like indeed the best average LA is around 15 degrees like I estimated a couple years ago

Higher Las above 18 degrees aren’t always ideal either as they can create lower BABIPs. Now Trout has a 22 degree LA this year and he is the best hitter but even his BABIP is down some compared to normally when he is around 15-16 degree LA, so that is probably the sweet spot for most. The biggest thing is to avoid super low Las under 10 degrees. JD Martinez for example was at around 10 degrees last year and raked but it shouldn’t get lower than that. Between 12 and 18 the difference is probably not huge but single digit LAs can limit your potential severely, only 3 guys in the top 33 averaged under  10 (Lemahieu at the bottom at 6.7). Player dev should really look to get average LA above 10 and really above 12 too, but above 19-20 is probably not good either (just 5 where above 19 among the 33). 12-18 is probably a good range here.

The next thing that is currently often discussed is pull rate. Pulling helps power but it hurts BABIP

The 33 here are at 43 which is slightly above the league average of 40.7% so the power benefit probably outweighs the BABIP hit. Here the top range is 47.6% and the bottom at 39%. Within the 33 there is no effect, the top 11 pull slightly less (42.4) than the bottom 11 (43.1). However what we see is that guys with a sub 35% pull rate lack power. Only Lemahieu is an extremely low pull guy under 38% out of the 33 and he is helped by Yankee stadium right field. I would advice to look at prospects not having a pull rate below 38% with the ideal probably being in the low 40s. Above 45% usually isn’t ideal either and leads to low BABIPs and shift susceptibility albeit some still make this work like for example Jose Bautista in his prime.

Last I looked at air ball pull rate because there are some hitters who hit air balls (LD+FB) only oppo and pull only grounders which is related to mechanical issues in the swing and is very bad. Here the 33 average 32% which is above the league average of 29%. High end here is 37 and low end around 27%. Low values below 25% are a concern and if you look at the names you find familiar Names like Lemahieu (who was dead last in MLB in pulled air balls at just 12%) and Hosmer and also guys who had a power collapse like Posey. Not being able to pull the ball in the air is a big red flag both mechanically or just declining batspeed. I would recommend here a range of 30-35% probably and definitely it must be above 25%. Above 40% is probably not ideal either, 18 guys in MLB pulled more than 40% of their FBs last year and only Suarez was in the top 33 in wOBA, quite a few low BABIP guys among those.

Now how you coach that is a different question of course. I wrote two articles if you are interested  in further reading about training and Mechanics  but this isn’t really the topic of this post. Those ranges do give you a baseline that you can work towards. Anyone who wants to develope players should at least occasionally control if their players are developing in the right direction. Especially those batted ball data like Pull%, air ball pull% and GB% are really low hanging fruit that can be optimized not guaranteeing success but at least give you a chance to not waste potential. There are also other data like batted ball spin and of course swing sensor metrics like attack angle, batspeed and vertical barrel angle that should be monitored but unfortunately those data are only available in a training setting and not in games, at least not publically.

The pros and cons of pulling the ball

There have been similar articles about the advantages of pulling but I wanted to do a new research because the ball has changed as well as player developement did.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion among hitting coaches about pulling the ball. Traditionally batting coaches usually suggested going gap to gap, which means basically hitting where the ball is pitched and mostly trying to stay in the middle of the field between the middle infielders however recently this has changed and more and more sabermetrically leaning coaches suggest focusing on pulling the ball because they think that this will create more power.

So let us look at some pros and cons of pulling using 2019 MLB data. I am starting with the cons

Cons of pulling the ball

The first con of pulling the ball is that BABIP is negatively correlated with pull%. In 2019 hitters with a sub 35% pull rate have a ..322 BABIP.35-40% it is .309, 40-45 it is .301 and 45=.285.

Now this is partially because the shift eats up grounders, so let us test a common suggestion of the modern coaches: “Hit over the shift” because avoiding grounders means mostly avoiding the shift. To test if that works for BABIP (Spoiler, in the pros of pulling we will look at the effect of this on other stats) I was looking at hitters with a 45% pull rate and a GB rate of lower than 38%.

Surprisingly the BABIP of this pulled flyball group is even lower at .277. Granted the sample size of this group was very small with but historical data show the same pattern for this, extreme pull flyball hitters have low BABIPs which is hurting the on base percentage of those players, albeit they still can be elite hitters with the best example of this probably being Jose Bautista which always had BABIPs around 270 but still was an elite hitter due to above average contact skill and elite power and batting eye.

The other con of pulling is that it is harder to lift pulled balls. The league launch angle for pulled balls is like 5 degrees vs about 20 for oppo as you are more likely to roll over and top it if you hit it more out front.

However this can be influenced by the hitters mechanics and pitch selection. As the above cited article shows certain pitch locations can be pulled better in the air. First of course as every little league coach knows inside, can be pulled better than outside but also high can be pulled better than low, high middle and even outside pitches can easily be pulled while pulling low outside pitches leads to topped roll overs.

The ability to pull low pitches in the air strongly depends on batting mechanics.

Specifically achieving and maintaining a good vertical barrel angle helps with pulling low pitches in the air as this avoids roll overs.

See this post to explain the mechanics behind that.

So the pull hitter cannot really overcome the BABIP penalty but he can overcome the launch angle issue by the right pitch selection and hitting mechanics.

The pros of pulling

A big pro ist that pull rate is positively correlated with power. League ISO for under 35% pull rate is just .131 while between 35-40 and 40-45 it is around .184 and finally .212 for 45+.

wRC+ is at 103 under 35% and then slightly raises from 110 (35-40) to 116 (45+).

So there is a positive effect of wRC+ by pulling more. This effect is dependent on the hitters power. Conventional coaching wisdom says low powered hitters should spray the ball and power hitters should go for the pull bomb but the data actually show otherwise.

The hitters with a sub .150 ISO benefit a lot from pulling more while .230+ ISO guys actually lose a little bit of production (see the table). Keep in mind that the 166 for elite power under 35% pull rate is only one data point albeit a spectacular one in Yelich.


The explanation for this is probably pretty easy. Low powered hitters are gaining a lot from a few feet more flyball distance and also shorter fences.

The average pulled FB between 20 and 45 degrees this year flew 342 feet, to center it was slightly less at 333 and oppo a lot less at 303.

With high powered guys that does not matter as much because they have power to all parts of the field albeit even they should avoid straight oppo because between zero degrees and 15 degrees oppo the FB distance was still a solid 321 but the extreme oppo balls of 15-45 degrees are just 286 feet so they will not go out often. The elite power guys like Trout, JD martinez, Yelich thus can cash in on the BABIP bonus of all field hitting while still hitting 35 bombs, while the lower powered guys need to pull the ball.

Definitely pulling fly balls is a skill needed at the highest level and the top20 hitters average about 42% pull rate which means pulling a lot is not special a trait of elite hitters (just above league average) but a healthy pull rate is needed to succeed at the highest level, you need to be able to turn on some pitches with authority.

How much you pull the ball depends on your power. Fringy power guy should pull a bit more except when they have zero power while great power guys should stay between oppo gap and pull line for power and BABIP.

So the approach I am suggesting to hitters as a compromise between all field hitting and pulling is a “oppo gap to pull line”

approach in which outside pitches are hit middle to like 15 degrees oppo and middle in pitches are pulled and you can also occasionally pull an elevated outside pitch.

Increasing on plane efficiency

A common goal in modern hitting is to stay on plane longer. On plane means that the attack angle is matching with the pitch plane for a long time. We all have seen the famous Ted williams graphic.


However it is a bit more complicated than that. First of all a really consistent AA can only be achieved at the high pitch when you have basically zero vertical barrel angle. Once you add vertical barrel angle, and you should do that depending on the  height of the pitch (too flat barrel causes roll overs on low pitches) the swing plane will become more tangential, i.e. the AA is flatter deeper in the zone and steeper more out front which makes timing harder.

And second there is also a side  to side component of swing plane, which is often called “swing direction”. This means even if the AA matches you are not on plane long when the bat turns to the left too early (for a RHB) which often happens.

But let’s first start with what is needed to achieve the different components of on plane efficiency.

First it helps to get on plane deep in the zone. Too deep isn’t good either as this can make the swing too long when you just lay the bat back but as a rule of thumb the bat should be on plane behind the back hip.

To achieve that the bat gets turned down behind you using the “elbow seesaw” and some supination  of the rear hand.

Here is a drill for the seesaw

Here is a detailed description of the hand movements

This drill with turning over a cup can also help to get this action.

I also use one armed drills like this rear arm ones with a ball clamped in

And front arm one

And this drill to get on plane

For staying on plane in the vertical direction it is important to keep the tangential component as small as possible. Yes the AA will get steeper more out front but good hitters keep  the barrel below the hands as long a possible and thus reducing a rising off the plane.

See JDM here, his AA does increase some out front but his bat doesn’t flip up but stays under the hands as the top hand shoots past the bottom hander under  it and vertical barrel angle is maintained.

A drill to feel that is this board slide drill. In reality path won’t be quite as straight but the feeling should be to stay on the board.

Make sure the front elbow doesn’t roll down too early with this drill

As I said before it is also important to  have a good side to side swing direction.

To achieve that there are some factors that help with that.

One is maintaining the vertical barrel angle. This means keeping the bat pointed angled down and not getting flatter or rolling over as you swing. Also maintaining posture and not rotating late and starting to decelerate before impact helps with achieving a straighter direction.

You can also use a device like this

Or this drill to prevent swinging too much across

A great drill for direction are also stop swings like this one.

A great device to measure this are bat sensors like the blast sensor. Those sensors measure AA, VBA and sometimes even have a compound score for plane efficiency. With those devices you can see where you are at and track improvements.

But as always a good evaluation by a good coach is key, you cannot just throw drills at a player and see what sticks but a very precise evaluation has to come first so you can create solutions for a specific problem.

Hitting the outside pitch

Hitting the outside pitch is very important at higher levels. It isn’t as extreme as it was in the 2000s when the go to approach of every mlb pitcher was going low and away because as an adaptation to the power hitters with a positive attack angle pitchers are now going more up and also in but still a lot of pitches are thrown outside especially at the college and HS level but even by some mlb teams.

The danger of the outside pitch is rolling over and hitting a weak grounder if you try to pull it.  This is especially true for flat vertical barrel angle guys which were more common 15-20 years ago.

Because of this the common wisdom is to hit the outside pitch the other way. In this fangraphs article

I showed how this works. It shows that the launch angle goes down if you pull the outside pitch but moreso the low pitch. The high outside pitch can be hit with a good LA to center and in some cases even pulled (see the table in the article for data).

The tough part in hitting the outside pitch is that the rotational momentum goes to the left  (for a RHB) but you need a direction to the oppo gap because for optimal force production the swing direction and horizontal spray angle need to match.

What many hitters with a pull swing direction do is just hit the outside pitch just later and with the barrel inside but with the same right to left direction.  This creates a flyball to the outfield with a ton of backspin but not a lot of force so it hangs up a long time for the outfielder to catch it unless you are stanton strong and you can slice fly balls into the oppo stands.

Now the question is how you achieve a better force direction despite the rotational nature of the body.

An important function is deceleration of rotation. In a good baseball swing the trunk rotation peaks around 50 ms before contact  and the hips peak like 10 ms before that (Forthenbaugh 2011). At contact the rotational velocity slows down to about 50-60% of the max. Eugene Bleeker talks a lot about this in his book old school vs new school. During the acceleration of rotation the hands basically travel in an arc around the spine. You don’t need to force that and trying to be more direct might help some hitters but that arc happens nonetheless.  When the shoulders decelerate the direction goes a little straighter.

You want to achieve a direction slightly towards the other batters box, not a lot the other way but a little bit has to happen.

To achieve that you need to decelerate the body a little earlier so the hands can go a little more away from the arc.

A popular way to achieve deceleration is the kick back or scissor like Miggy does.

However you can also achieve that without such an anchor by tightening up the core enough.

Here is a decel drill I created. You stop that bat when pointing to the oppo gap.

One of my favourite drills is the oppo stop swing. You place the tee outside and stop the bat about one foot past contact (kinda like a late check swing). The bat should stay  over that tee line (slightly to oppo) and below the hands. The ball should fly slightly to oppo.


Another drill that might help is from a controversial hitting camp which has a history of internet fights but I think still can be usefull is the flashlight drill from teacherman (gotta give credit). Basically you imagine the knob has a flashlight and you shine it diagonally from the catchers feet to the outside front edge of the plate as you initiate the swing (you can use an actual flashlight to see the shine traveling over the ground), this can improve the path.

Here I tried to show how to hit the outside pitch. The knob “shines” diagonally outward (only mild outward angle)  and bat is turned behind the ball. Body decelerates earlier to allow direction to keep going that way.

Another thing that helps with direction is a steeper vertical barrel angle. A flat bat will have more tendency to go across and a steeper bat turn (25 to 45 degrees VBA) allows for a more centered barrel direction and to hit the ball straighter with less spin and thus harder.  Dk Willardson explained that in his book quantitative hitting. Also from that book I learned that great hitters don’t hit that much oppo. Coaches teach hitting gap to gap but Willardson states that elite hitters hit the outside pitch like just 10 degrees oppo while they pull the inside pitch 20+ degrees (45 would be down the line).

This means you shouldn’t go foul line to foul line but more oppo gap to pull field which makes the job a little easier to hit balls hard.

In summary try to hit the outside pitch hard with little spin in the air slightly more oppo than the middle and you will be fine. To achieve this you need a good decel pattern and a good barrel turn slightly to the oppo gap. Practice hitting outside pitches and even pitches an inch or two (but not more) off the plate.

A dril to practice this I like is the 4 corner drill where you hit off the tee or flips off all 4 corners.  Also like this stop swing 4 corner drill for plate coverage.

What can also help is hitting driveline plyo balls outside because that will expose slicing even more.

Also read my other article on the inside pitch

It is important you cover all 4 corners. Practice hitting balls up to an inch off the plate off all corners. In games you want to do the opposite and give the outer two inches of the plate to the pitcher (take strikes there like this  )

to force him over the middle but practicing that excess plate coverage will transfer to hitting the middle in and middle away pitches while players who only practice down the pipe will even struggle with those hittable pitches. Vary speed and location in practice.



Do baseball hitting coaches teach what they really see?

Player development is a huge topic currently and a lot did change due to the statcast numbers. Many players have improved their swings and became starts out of nowhere. The most famous examples of this are probably Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and JD Martinez but also many other guys like Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner.

However when listening to broadcasts you will still hear many of the old cues or the broadcasters will speak in a derogative way of the what they call “launch angle swing”. They will call players selfish and not caring about Ks but of course the term launch angle swing is stupid because every swing has a launch angle and it has been proven that launch angles of about 10-30 degrees are ideal.

And even for the softer hitters an angle of about 5-20 degrees is most productive, only balls at 20+ degrees are extremely exit velocity sensitive.

Now here are some cues we are hearing daily in broadcasts and also still by many coaches although there are more and more “new style” coaches even in pro ball like for example Jason Ochart at the Phillies or Jeff Albert at the Cardinals (formerly Astros).

Cue 1: Squish the bug

This is a quite common cue. The idea behind it is that the squishing motion (turning the leg inwards on the ball of the rear leg) drives the hip turn and allows the hitter to stay back.

However this is not really what we see with elite hitters. Elite hitters often have their back foot off the ground and their weight against the inside of the front leg. You don’t want to climb too much on the front leg and still stay behind the front side but the weight does transfer with the swing. Force plate measurements have shown up to like 1.5 times the body weight of force on the front foot.

Cue 2: Extension at contact

You often hear after a homer “he got full extension at this one”. A common teach is to extend the arms to move the knob of the bat to the ball while keeping the bat lagged and then like a whip throw the bat head forward.

But when watching pros this is not really what happens.

With many homers the arms are still bent a lot. On pitches middle in the arms often form a „box“ with both elbows bent and on outside pitches the front arm tends to be more extended but the back arm still bent.

The hands are not really pushed forward as the bat turns down in the zone.

You essentially want to turn the bat to the ball without pushing the knob forward and then extend through as you make contact reaching extension well after the ball has left the bat.

There are still hits with more extended arms but this is usually when the timing is early for example on an offspeed pitch. Because of that the deep contact with following extension works as a „timing reserve“ in case you are fooled by a pitch.

Generally the hands will maybe start slightly down but then level out quickly and go forward to slightly up (kind of like a “J” laying on the side)

Cue 3: Swing down

The shortest line between two points is a straight line, right? The bat starts higher than the head and makes contact below the waist. This means the shortest path is a diagonal line down.

However that is not what we see with the pros. Their bat turns down like a „C“ behind the body and then goes slightly up. This path is longer but since the pitch comes in a downward plane the slightly upward path means your bat is on plane longer and can hit the ball even if timing is off. This is not a new concept, Ted Williams described that in his book the science of hitting but this approach was replaced by the more linear direct path in the 70s and 80s in teaching and yet it is not what the best do so Williams was right. The best hitters in the game have a positive attack angle of like 10-15 degrees. More uppercut can help power production but might cause some more swing and misses while a lower attack angle of like 8-10 degrees might be ideal for conistency but not ideal for power output.

Early “online hitting guru” Jack Mankin already noticed that in the late 1990s

Cue 4: Don’t drop the back shoulder

Traditional teaching says don’t drop the back shoulder and make contact with level shoulders and a level bat.

This is actually kinda correct on the high pitch at the letters. If the pitch is high dropping the bat too much indeed can be a flaw and this makes some good low ball hitters struggle against high heat. However on low pitches the back shoulder and bat head should actually drop. What you can see is that the bat is always about perpendicular to the spine (level to the top of the shoulders) and this whole axis tilts like a clock hand through the zone.

BTW even on high pitches the bat is usually not completely level. On high pitches the vertical barrel angle usually is at around negative 15-20 degrees and like 45 degrees on very low ones (numbers from DK Williardson’s book „Quantitative Hitting“.

Only on extremely high pitches you will see a level bat.

Players with a too flat vertical bat angle on lower pitches will often have trouble lifting pitches in the bottom half of the zone especially to the pull side. I talked about this in article and analysed Arenado’s swing in that regard.

Cue 5: Keep the lead shoulder in

It is true that the lead shoulder shouldn’t rotate before foot plant. You actually want to keep the shoulders still while you start to open the hips into foot plant to create some separation but then the shoulders do turn well before contact.

Studies have shown that hip turn speed peaks slightly before trunk turn speed. Both peak relatively early in the swing (about 60 ms before contact with the swing taking 150m ms) and then slightly decelerate to allow the bat to accelerate past the trunk. This is called the kinetic chain (Forthenbaugh 2011).

Cue 6: Hit the ball on the ground

Many coaches like to teach backside grounders because the fielders need to make a play and youth hitters don’t have the strength to hit homers. However at the highest level launch angles of 10-30 degrees are the best. Those guys are strong but even for low exit velocities angles of 5-20 degrees play best.

Here are angles marked in a cage:

We usually teach hit the L-Screen waist high in the cage and for preteen kids I do teach that too but for 12 and older kids I think it is ideal to hit the ball over the L-Screen because that zero degree cage liner is going to be a grounder in a game due to gravity pulling it down.

I’m not advocating swinging for homers but I think the goal should be to hit high liners with an apex height of like 15-30 feet (5-10m) at least for advanced youth players. Those hits have a very high chance to b e a single (over .500 BABIP) but also a good chance to be a double. Teaching to hit high liners thus is a good compromise between the „launch angle“ teaching and traditional hit for a base approaches.

Cue 7: Stay back

Before you swing you need to load the body up to generate maximum force. Many teach to go back and then forward. Some players indeed go back but it is important that the actual load occurs on the forward move. The head is not really staying back (see point #8) but after loading on the back hip it indeed goes forward and slightly down, but the weight tries to stay in the back hip until just befoe foot plant. While this forward move happens the body very slightly counter rotates and the hands go back some. It is very important that the hands load on the forward move and not while going back so the body can create stretch between the lower and upper body. Here is a good video of the load while going forward.

Staying back means keeping the weight on the back foot and keep the head still to wait better on soft stuff. However if you watch almost any pro hitter the head will actually move forward (and slightly down) but once the front heel is planted the head doesn’t move.

However while the head does move forward in relation to the ground it shouldn’t move ahead of the hips. The hips and trunk is very slightly coiling in and the head moves over the inside of the rear hip and stays there until foot plant. Some call this move forward yet back because the body is moving forward but with the rear hip and head going forward at the same rate. The body is essentially riding on the rear hip and then after the hips start to open the weight is transferred to the inside of the front foot.

Training hitting the modern way

In my last article I promised writing a collection of swing training methods. While the first article was about correcting swing pattern deficiencies this is more about improving hit ability and power with training methods.


A good swing pattern with a well timed hip dissociation, a good load, good deceleration patterns and good swing path already does help batspeed and hitting ability. There is a movement in hitting coaching to worry more about intent and moving fast than moving well but I’m not in 100% agreement with this. It is certainly right that getting too anal about mechanics and especially styles is bad and the body has good self organisation abilities but I do think that certain movement foundations need to be laid at a sub maximal speed. For example some martial arts styles do practice punches and kicks in super slow motion so that a punch takes 20 seconds and only if the sensei is satisfied you are allowed to move faster. I’m not that extreme and some movements only work at a high intensity (like throwing arm layback) but I still think some moves need to be practiced at lower intensities first. That doesn’t mean you need to worry about every little detail before you can swing hard but not a fan either of just giving a kid a stick and tell him to crush the ball and the rest will be fine.

Yes it is true that hitting middle middle balls off the tee won’t make you a good hitter but if you have a kind who sucks off the tee busting him inside with 90 won’t make his body magically self organize into a good swing. Because of this I will asses mechanics and do a movement/mechanics block before I start with the following advanced training methods. You shouldn’t force a certain style (leg kick/hitch vs slide step/more direct load…) and worrying about little details won’t make you a better hitter either but certain movement basics just need to be there before you can worry about moving faster.


However once you have a certain proficiency in your movement and also a good base strength there are ways to improve your hitting which haven’t always been used by coaches. While I think some take the “challenge hitters” too far traditional practice has been too easy on hitters.


So here are some things you can do.


  • Making BP more game realistic


Driveline has written a lot about this. Here is a good article


Basically, those method means you challenge hitters in BP by mixing in breaking balls and throw hard and well located instead of soft down the pipe. Reaction time is a critical factor as hitters have less than half of a second on 90+ MPH fastballs and really much less if you factor in decision time.

This means both bad reaction time and pattern deficiencies can cause batters being late and you need to practice that. The best practice is obviously live at bats against elite pitchers like they do on driveline but there are alternatives if you don’t have that like the good old pitching machine or simply throwing from a shorter distance. For example at driveline they are doing short box hitting against a pitcher throwing like 70s from 50 feet.


Here is a conversion chart for reaction time. Just measure how hard you can comfortably throw and then calculate the right distance


It should be noted that some studies suggest that there are other factors at work than reaction time so a short box equivalent 90 is not quite the same


This means it is probably better to throw harder if you can and not just shorten the distance.


You also need to work on different locations. Pitches in games don’t just come down the pipe to practice all 4 corners. It is best to do so in a randomized manner but it is OK to work on a single location exclusively first but then make sure that you don’t cheat. A common cheat is to adjust stride direction, which is something you don’t have time for at 90+.


A beginner drill is for example the Tee 4 corners drill which you can use in warm up. Instead of just hitting balls down the pipe you place the ball on the corners (low/away, low/in, up/in, up/away) and then you hit 4 or 5 balls of each location. To make it tougher you can also locate the ball an inch or two out of the K zone to improve your bat path variability. Don’t go farther than that though or it can hurt mechanics. The progression for this would be front toss (ideally overhead) with the batter knowing what is coming and finally in a randomized manner.


  • Decision making


Plate discipline is very important. Swinging at balls creates more swings and misses and weaker contact. However while the focus of plate discipline for a long time was patience and seeing pitches it is equally important to not take mistakes by the pitcher. Against MLB pitching a hitter might see one mistake pitch per at bat and if he takes it or fouls it off he might not get another chance.


Improving plate discipline isn’t easy. It isn’t really about patience or a good eye but about the ability of your brain to project the second half of the pitch flight based on visual cues of the first half. This is because due to the speed the decision needs to be made a little past halfway.


There are some ways to train this. I would suggest to work at one edge at a time. For example if a hitter chases high pitches work on high pitches and ask him to pay great attention how a too high pitch comes out of the hand. The too high pitch for example will come out of the hand a little more horizontal while the high strike will have a gentle downward angle. Work until you master that edge and then go to the next one. Start with fastballs then breaking balls.


What you can also build a frame or ring that is standing halfway to home plate and if it passes it is likely a strike. This works best for fastballs and you have to do some angle calc to make it work (if you have a rectangle a little smaller than the zone (because of the widening pitch angle) the lower edge must be like 1.5 to 2 feet higher than knee height to account for the downward angle. Peter Fatse has created such a device

Carlos santana for example mentioned that he imagines a circle halfway home in games and it worked for him. Those devices help you to see the correct tunnel of a strike. For breaking balls it is a bit more complicated though. A good way to go about this is to only swing at breaking balls that are in the upper half of the imagined circle. A good curve drops about a foot compared to a fastball and the average zone is like two feet high so this should be about correct. So if a fastball has to be about 3.5 feet off the ground to be a strike on the lower end at 30 feet a curve needs to be at least 4.5 feet high. You don’t really have to swing at any low tunnel breaking balls but the hard thing of course is to recognize them.


So a way to practice this would be to put a 4 feet high or so bar halfway to home plate and let a pitcher or machine throw curves or sliders so the batter sees the necessary height of a  breaking ball. The numbers are of course only an approximate example and not exact numbers.


Another way to practice pitch recognition with less effort is using vision apps. A good app I have tried is the uhit app You see a virtual pitcher throwing and you need to tap the screen if it is a strike before the ball crosses home plate. After some time you learn the vectors out of the hand.


  • Power and batspeed


Batspeed is extremely important. It is directly correlated to power but it also helps the hit tool along with swing quickness to get around good heat.


A good way to improve is getting stronger. I won’t get into that much but you should do heavy compound lifts and also some explosive lifts. A good resource is for example the book “starting strength” by Mark Rippetoe or for more advanced athletes the westside barbell system. For younger athletes BWEs and some lower impact plyometrics also work well.


Another method that is very effective is overload/underload training. It really was made famous by driveline but it was used in track and field by the soviet union since the 1970s at least. I have actually created an OL/UL program before driveline hitting was out and I personally went from 65 mph batspeed to low 80s within like  2 months or so (it was zepp and swing speed radar though so likely it was 57 to 73 mph in reality?) but I would recommend the driveline program as this is much more sophisticated than my system.


Good drills are also med ball drills like this one at baseball rebellion

A personal favorite of mine is the tire drill which I have created myself. You can see it here, it works on separation and power generation


Hammer throw releases with a Kettle bell are great for turning and hip extension


A good drill to work on dissociation and elastic energy is this drill where you stand backwards and then first open the hips and then the upper body



  • Improving launch angle


LA is a big topic in these days. It has been widely accepted that angles between 10 and 30 degrees produce the best results. EV is still more important but good angles can maximize your output for your athletic talent.


Some say there is a contact cost of LA but I couldn’t really find a strong effect.


To improve LA and especially good EV at optimal LAs it can help to improve attack angle. I won’t go into the mechanics that are behind this in this article (have done so in other articles or maybe will in the future) but at sensors like blast or zepp can help to control for AA. Most believe an AA of around 10-15 degrees is ideal.


Also important especially for low pitches is the vertical bat angle. VBA varies from like 15-20 degrees to 40-45 depending on pitch height. The best low ball hitters have a VBA of around 45 degrees. I talked about this in this article but basically a too flat VBA can cause roll over and topspin on low pitches even with a positive AA (for higher pitches a lower VBA is slightly better though).


It can also help to mark LAs in a cage with ropes


or build a wall out of screens in on field BP.


This are some methods to train for hitting. Again you of course need to asses the athlete and  see what he needs  whether it is flexibility, strength, mechanics or specific power and then train the athlete accordingly.