Walk him! ... or at least don't
give him much to hit.
(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Growing up, I heard many great “baseball sayings” from my father and grandfather. Some sayings or cliches are meant to be funny but most are also instructive. On a mile high pop-up to the catcher, my dad would say “That’s a home run in an elevator shaft.” It gets a laugh but it also sends a message to the batter that he better make an adjustment. One purely instructive saying I heard regularly before games I pitched was “Don’t let their best hitter beat you.” Greatpitchers know who the opposing teams’ best and hottest hitters are. If there is a situation where first base is open and their best/hottest hitter is batting, great pitchers know that either walking him or at least not giving him any good pitches to hit might be the best strategy. This is especially true when runners are in scoring position. Be careful though. Sometimes the team’s “hottest” hitter is not their “best” hitter. An intelligent pitcher may opt to pitch to their “best” hitter instead of their “hottest” hitter who might be up to bat next. If the other players on the team beat you, so be it. Tip your hat to them. However, usually when you make their best hitters a non-factor in the outcome of a game, it's to your advantage. Great pitchers know all this information about their opponents and have a game-plan before they step onto the mound.