Baseball Magazine

Pitching Around a Hitter

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Baseball people know that there are times when a pitcher is going to pitch around a batter.  One of their best hitters is up, a base is open, etc.  However, the drawback of not giving a batter something to hit is that it contradicts much of what we coaches say to pitchers. 

When in doubt, sometimes it's just better to walk him.

When in doubt, sometimes it’s just better to walk him.

Two of the most common statements coaches make to their pitchers is “be aggressive” and “go after hitters.”  Because of this, telling a pitcher to pitch around a hitter can be a very tough thing to do, especially for young pitchers.  Basically you are telling the pitcher to throw the ball only in areas where the batter cannot hit the ball well if he does in fact swing.  That’s easier said than done.  It takes a high level of command with several pitches to be able to do that.  It can be tough mentally as well based on the conflicting advice.

If you have the luxury of working with pitchers with very good command, this can be a great approach when it comes to in-game strategy.  If you don’t, it can be better just to walk the batter intentionally. 
 I never kept stats on this but as a coach I had to have led the league every year in intentional walks.  One of my top strategies was to do everything possible to NOT allow the best hitters on the other team to beat us.  There were times when this backfired but overall the results were more positive than negative. 

Like anything else with coaching, this decision to pitch around hitters has a lot to do with knowing what your pitchers can and cannot do.  Sometimes a more basic “go after him” or “walk him” is more appropriate.  

Matching the strategy with the correct pitcher is not easy but it is necessary.


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