Baseball Magazine

Don’t Keep the Ball Down

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Actually, the title of today’s post is a little incomplete.  A better title would have been “Don’t JUST keep the ball down.”

Pitchers are told from the day they start pitching to “keep the ball down in the strike zone.”  In general, that is great

A high strike ever now and then is a great thing.

A high strike every now and then is a great thing.

advice.  At the younger ages – Little League through high school – throwing strikes and always keeping the ball down in the zone is pretty deadly.  However, even at those younger levels, good hitters and good hitting teams will require more than just keeping the ball down in the zone.

There is another phrase that is popular at the higher levels among pitchers.  It’s “don’t stay in the same spot too long.”  If a pitcher who does a great job of keeping the ball down in the zone stays down there too often, hitters will take notice and begin to expect the ball below the waist.  Their swings on low pitches will improve and become more aggressive as a result.

If you ever watched guys like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Jamie Moyer, guys who lived at the bottom of the strike zone, you probably noticed a few pitches up in the strike zone every now and then. Usually up and in.  Some were mistakes but many were not.  If major league hitters only have to worry about half the zone (lower half, outer half, upper half, inner half) then even major league quality pitchers might be in for a rough day. 

Of course, no coach is going to complain about having pitchers who always keep the ball down in the zone.  But as pitchers get older they will have to learn how to throw to the other half of the zone as well.  Doing so keeps hitters honest and focused on the entire strike zone instead of just half of it.

Throwing strikes, keeping most pitches down, and using the entire strike zone will go a long way in turning any pitcher into a success.

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