Baseball Magazine

Hitting the Low Pitch

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Hitting the low pitch

If you want to keep moving up, you
better learn how to handle this pitch.

Every now and then I get a laugh from a TV baseball announcer when he says “this guy is a good low-ball hitter.”  Although some guys are certainly better at it than others, there is more to that story.  As you move up the levels of baseball, the pitching obviously gets better.  There are certainly a number of things that these pitcher do to make them fall into the category of “better" and one of the main ones is the ability to throw more pitches down in the strike zone.  If pitchers eventually make it to the major league level, you can assume that the majority of their pitches are going to be down in the strike zone.  If they were not, they probably would not have made it to that level in the first place.  But the principle is true for hitters too.  If a hitter wants to keep moving up like the pitchers, they have to show a greater ability to hit pitches in the lower parts of the strike zone because literally more pitches will be down there.  That’s why I laugh a little when announcers say this.  Every hitter at the major league level had to show a good enough ability to be a low-ball hitter or they would not have been able to get there in the first place. 
All this being said, there are a few things hitters can do to improve on their low-ball hitting.  Here are just a few:

Hitting the low pitch

Back knee drives down towards the
height of the front calf.

Practice them.  Watch an average kid take swings off a tee and you’ll probably see them set the ball down the middle about thigh high.  Perfect hitting location.  Why?  If they want to continue moving up the ladder in baseball and they know that less and less pitches will be down the middle, thigh high, why would they continue to work on this pitch when the chances of actually seeing it in a game decrease more and more as they move up?  Even though players at the lower levels may not see many tough, low pitches, they still need to work on them for the future.
Exaggerate.  One of the best ways to train for something is to exaggerate the activity or behavior you want to train for.  When some runners train for the mile, they will consistently run more than a mile in their training so that a one-mile race isn’t so tough.  Hitting works the same way.  If you want to become better at hitting the low pitch, train yourself to hit a very low pitch.  If you train to successfully hit a pitch at the shins, a low strike at the knees doesn’t seem so tough anymore.  Set the tee as far down as it can go.  Many tees are not constructed to accommodate this so you’ll have to create an alternative.  Another post in the near future will show what I do with my players to accomplish this.

Hitting the low pitch

Back knee down once again.

Knee to calf.  Mechanically speaking, there are a number of things that hitters must do to properly hit any pitch in the strike zone.  There is one, however, that stands out in my mind in terms of being able to address the low pitch.  It involves driving your back knee to the calf of the front leg.  Many hitters, especially those who prefer to stand very tall in their initial batting stance, have a tough time getting the barrel of the bat to low pitches.  They end up reaching for the pitch and hit it off the end of the bat or miss it completely.  When players do this, both their knees tend to end up at the same height at the point of contact.  Driving the back knee down towards the calf of the front leg lowers the body (and the barrel) enabling the good part of the bat to get to the ball.  (both photos show this)  They “drive” to the low pitch instead of just reaching for it.

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