Baseball Magazine

The Fake Shake

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

I saw this video clip the other day and I thought it would be a good thing to pass along for those who are catchers.  Click on the link below and watch:

You’ll notice that before the catcher gives the sign to the pitcher, he shakes his head a couple times.  The purpose of that is to get the pitcher to shake his head also as if he is “shaking off” the catcher’s sign.  Of course, he isn’t shaking off the sign.  The catcher just wants the batter to think the pitcher is shaking off the catcher’s sign.

So why on earth would the catcher want to do that?

Well, some hitters (some would say most hitters) think way too much when they enter the box.  Other hitters are guess hitters meaning they count on being able to guess what the pitcher is going to throw.  Having the pitcher pretend he is shaking off a pitch is an attempt to get a batter confused as to what may be coming.  Here is an example:

A batter has a 2-0 count on him.  At most levels, there is about a 99% chance of a fastball coming next.  The batter, the pitcher, the catcher, and everyone else in the park knows this.  If the batter sees the pitcher shake off the catcher, he may start to think along these lines … “It’s a 2-0 count.  The catcher had to have signaled for a fastball.  But the pitcher shook him off twice.  Does that mean a fastball is not coming?  Or is it a trick to get me to think something other than a fastball is coming?”  Either way, the desired goal was achieved.  It got the batter thinking. 

It’s easy to say that a batter should never let this kind of stuff impact his thoughts.  Batters should just focus on seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand.  However, there is no way to shut off our brain which is why this tactic still can be effective even at the major league level.

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