Baseball Magazine

Curve Ball Adjustment – Another Option

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
I’m watching a game on TV the other night and the announcers are discussing one of the pitcher’s curveball and how he gets a lot of batters to swing and miss by throwing it in the dirt.  The discussion led to a common adjustment that batters are told to make in order to combat this type of pitch/pitcher.  You’ve probably heard it before.  “Move up in the box (towards the pitcher) so as to get to the curveball before it has a chance to break as much.”  But there is another option that is rarely done that I think has some merit.  I tried it when I played and I found that it actually worked better sometimes.  The adjustment is to move as far back in the box (away from the pitcher) as possible. Curve ball adjustment – another optionI heard about this tip from Don Baylor a long time ago when he was still playing.  He said when he faced a pitcher who threw “slow and low” - a crafty lefty like a Jamie Moyer type – he would get as far back as he could.  Here was his rationale …
He felt that when he moved up in the box like most hitters are taught, the pitcher would still have the advantage for two reasons. 
  1. You are shortening the distance between the release point to contact which doesn’t allow the hitter as much time to see the pitch.
  2. The pitcher can just continue to use his strength – which is his slow velocity – by slowing the ball up even more to get it to bounce even earlier.  He felt the same result occurs.  The batter fails to recognize the pitch (due to the shorter distance) and swings and misses (because the ball is still in the dirt). 

When you move far back in the box, Baylor felt the batter gains a few advantages. 
  1. It forces the pitcher to make the adjustment that goes against his strength.  By moving farther back in the box the catcher is pushed back a little as well.  This means the distance of the pitch has now increased.  To make up for that increased distance, the pitcher must throw the ball a little harder, something that he doesn’t want to do because it is the opposite of how he typically gets batters out. 
  2. The pitcher’s specialty – the pitch in the dirt – still typically bounces in the same spot.  If the hitter is farther back, he has more time to recognize the pitch that is heading downward.  If the batter is “up in the box” he may still think he can hit the pitch and decide to swing.  Unfortunately, that’s what the pitcher wants him to do.  Moving back can help not because it makes it easier to hit back there but rather the batter is better able to take it for a ball.
  3. Some pitchers who find that their normal “slow and low” is no longer working have to switch to a more “faster and higher” mentality.  This, of course, plays right into the hands of the hitter who would rather have a pitch a little higher and a little faster from a low velocity pitcher.

The worst thing a line-up can do when faced with a nasty curveball or slow pitcher who gets them way out front is to do nothing.  Moving up in the box can be effective but moving back in the box may be worth a try as well. 

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