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Home Runs Are Up 31 Percent In Early Going

Home Runs Are Up 31 Percent In Early Going 0

Statistics Collage With HitterBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Home runs are up 31 percent over last season according to the NCAA’s latest NCAA Division I statistics.

The increased jolt in offense undoubtedly can be attributed to the new flat seam balls that are being used for the first time in 155 years of college baseball.

The NCAA Division I Statistics’ Trends have been kept from 1970-2014.

At the end of the 2014 season, a record low 0.39 home runs per game for each team were hit.

In the latest NCAA statistics, that figure has jumped to 0.51 — a 31 percent increase.

The raw data shows that 869 home runs were hit over the first 1,708 Division I games of the season, according to the NCAA’s baseball statistics’ guru Jeff Williams.

The top two conferences in home runs are the Southeastern with 74 home runs over 92 games and the Pac-12 Conference with 52 home runs over 85 games.

Sixteen conferences have seen 30 or more home runs hit over the first two weeks of the season.

If the 0.51 figure for home runs holds through the remainder of the season, it will be the highest total in NCAA Division I baseball since BBCOR bats were introduced in 2011. That year, the home runs per game total was 0.52. Each year since then, the figure has gone down from 0.48 in 2012 to 0.42 in 2013 and 0.39 in 2014.

Home run numbers are not the end of the story.

To be fair, you must look at the other key categories in the Division I Baseball Statistics Trends.

Batting averages are down 0.37 percent (.270 in 2014 and .269 so far in 2015) and scoring is up 8.27 percent (5.08 runs per team per game in 2014 with 5.50 this season).

Stolen bases are up 5.9 percent (1.02 stolen bases per game per team in 2014 and 1.08 in 2015) while sacrifice bunts are down 20 percent (0.76 sacrifices per game per team in 2014 and 0.61 in 2015).

Key pitching indicators have gone up as well with ERAs of NCAA Division I teams going up 7.8 percent (4.22 ERA in 2014 and 4.55 ERA in 2015) and strikeouts per nine innings by pitchers up 18 percent (6.48 strikeouts per 9 innings in 2014 and 7.64 in 2015).

To read more of this story, purchase the March 6, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

UCLA’s David Berg Was Once An Afterthought

UCLA’s David Berg Was Once An Afterthought 0

David Berg UCLA Pitching 2013 CWSBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

LOS ANGELES — UCLA’s David Berg is on course to be the greatest closer in college baseball history.

The 6-foot, 194-pound right-handed sidearm pitcher has put up staggering numbers since his freshman year for the Bruins.

In three years:

Berg has 132 appearances in three seasons (50 in 2012, 51 in 2013 and 31 in 2014.

He is only 29 appearances away from the NCAA Division I record of 161 held by David Teasley of Mercer (2010-13).

He registered an NCAA record-tying 51 appearances during the 2013 season.
Berg posted an NCAA record 24 saves in 2013.

In 132 appearances over his first three seasons, he only blew three saves. And all three times, he came back to post a win.

When hitters are able to get on base against Berg, they rarely have a chance to steal because of his quickness to home (0.95 seconds). That is why he has only allowed 2 stolen bases in 6 attempts over three seasons (200 innings). There is no doubt this also is an all-time record, but the NCAA does not keep this unique achievement by pitchers.

Heading into his senior year, he has posted 36 saves.

In 200 innings pitched over three seasons, the Louisville Slugger first team All-American has a remarkable 1.26 ERA with only 36 walks and 176 strikeouts.

As hard as it is to believe, five seasons ago at Bishop Amat High School (La Puente, Calif.), his pitching career was on the rocks.

During his junior year, he only was allowed to pitch 9 1/3 innings as he was learning to throw as a sidewinder from his normal ¾ arm slot. He had a 6.00 ERA with 4 walks and 3 hit batters as he gave up 8 earned runs. 

“David came in as an outfielder/pitcher as a freshman and was a good athlete,” said former Bishop Amat Head Coach Andy Nieto.

“Entering the fall of his junior year, he was having some difficulty pitching on the varsity level. It just wasn’t happening.

“I talked to my pitching coach Chris Beck and told him that we had to ‘Muckey’ him.

“There is a well known coach in Southern California by the name of Scott Muckey at Crespi High School who annually turns one of his pitchers into a sidearmer to give opponent hitters a different look.

“Both Chris and I felt David would be a good candidate to try this. There was no guarantee it would work.

“So we talked to David about it, and he took it from there as he worked extremely hard to learn this new delivery. And he wasn’t allowed to throw over the top any more. From that point on, he was only allowed to throw as a sidearmer.”

Nieto acknowledged that Berg had a tough junior year as he worked on his new arm angle.

“In fact, it took about a year for him to figure out how to throw from this arm slot with a completely new release point.”

During Berg’s junior year, he appeared to be a nervous wreck when he did pitch as he walked halfway to the plate to retrieve balls from his catcher and constantly paced around the mound.

Nieto and pitching coach Chris Beck had to remind Berg to stay on the pitching circle.

“He was definitely a pacer at that time. But now he has grown up physically and mentally and has a chance to pitch in the Big Leagues. He has shown he can pitch to both right and left handed hitters which is rare for a sidearmer.

“We could see the potential he had, but David just needed some work at the change. We knew he was a diamond in the rough. The movement he had with the new arm angle was terrific, and the deception was superb. We felt if he tackled this new arm slot with the commitment he had in the classroom, he would make it work. And boy has he ever.”

Amazing Senior Year
His senior year at Bishop Amat was sensational with a 7-1 record, 1.05 ERA and 4 saves as he led the Lancers to the CIF championship with a 29-4 overall record.

He had 21 appearances in 33 games that season and threw 46 2/3 innings. It was a transformation for the ages.

To read more about David Berg and how he has become one of the top closers in college baseball history, purchase the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Augie Garrido Has Never Backed Down In Life

Augie Garrido Has Never Backed Down In Life 0

Augie Garrido MugBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

AUSTIN, Tex. — Augie Garrido, the winningest coach in college baseball history with 1,920 wins entering the 2015 season, is a study in the word complex.

On one hand, he was brought up in a boot-tough ship yard town of Vallejo, Calif. shortly after World War II where plenty of street fighting was the norm with Navy sailors.

Both of his parents worked two jobs to support the family. They lived in a federal housing development.

He came out of this mostly blue-collar community with a burning desire to become the best coach he could possibly be against the worldly advice of his father Augie.

This amazing coach is the only skipper to lead teams to national titles in four different decades (Cal. St. Fullerton 1979, 1984, 1995 and Texas, 2002, 2005).

In 46 years of coaching, he has led teams to a 1,920-892-9 overall record.

The 76-year-old Garrido just celebrated his birthday on Feb. 6 — the same date as two other giants in history — Babe Ruth and President Ronald Reagan.

Garrido coached at Cal. St. Fullerton and Illinois prior to becoming the coach at Texas

He led the Titans to a duo of national championships at Cal. St. Fullerton in 1979 and 1984, brought numerous people into the coaching ranks, sent scores of players into the professional ranks and helped hundreds of players be success stories in life.

Another side of Garrido reveals a passion for art and finely tailored Italian suits. He is a connoisseur of gourmet food and the finer things in life which reflect success.

Without any doubt, his love of people is the catalyst behind his victories in life.

Many people are not aware that Garrido is deeply religious man who teaches his players right vs. wrong in every phase of life.

The team concept is much more important than wins in the Garrido philosophy.

A perfect example is the 1992 Titan baseball team which finished second in the nation.

Fullerton had a disappointing Big West Conference season, finishing second to Long Beach St. Everyone was expecting the Titans to waltz through the competition and finish first with a superb pitching staff and equally talented every day lineup.

Constant temper tantrums during games were the norm. Players routinely threw bats and helmets at the slightest problem. Hitters stopped running out ground balls with 100 percent effort.

Garrido resorted to the unthinkable prior to the South I Regional in Baton Rouge, La. He refused to let the team practice until the players showed more respect for the game of baseball.

A group of seniors, led by catcher Jason Moler and pitcher Dan Naulty, held a team meeting and came up with strict new rules for the team. If a player threw a helmet or argued a call with an umpire, immediate suspension would prevail. If a player did not run out a grounder or fly ball, that individual must run 2 ½ miles.

The attitude adjustment was just beginning as Garrido and associate head coach George Horton allowed the team to practice again.

“They lost the definition of the word respect,” said Garrido.

“I closed the field prior to the regionals and said we weren’t going to practice any more. I said it didn’t matter anyway because they didn’t get it or understand that this wasn’t about winning baseball games. It was all about teamwork and people. They didn’t show any respect for the game of baseball.

“They didn’t show any respect for the groundskeepers. They didn’t show any respect or appreciate they had a ball to play with and had a bat to use. They just didn’t have the right definition of respect. They didn’t know how to get it. To get it, you have to give, and the rewards will come back.”

The Titans shocked heavily favored Louisiana State in the South I Regional by going through undefeated with four consecutive wins.

At the College World Series, Fullerton raced through its division to meet Pepperdine for the national title. The Waves defeated the Titans, 3-2 in the championship game.

To read more about the amazing career and philosophy of Augie Garrido, purchase the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Is Weight Lifting Causing Tommy John Surgery?

Is Weight Lifting Causing Tommy John Surgery? 2

Special To Collegiate Baseball

PENSACOLA, Fla. — All kinds of hypothesis have been reached to explain the rapid rise of injuries to pitchers.

Some believe poor mechanics is the cause while some believe it’s too much throwing.

While those are valid arguments, many organizations from professional baseball to Little League have implemented measures such as pitch counts and arm exercise programs in response.

That’s all well and good, but the rate of injuries to elbows and shoulders still remains historically high.

In fact, an all-time record 93 professional players on all levels underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014, according to statistics carried by the web site www.baseballheatmaps.com

A complete look at the dramatic increase in Tommy John surgeries in pro baseball is in the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball. This special report includes a chart which shows the number of Tommy John surgeries year by year from 1974-2014 in the Major Leagues and Minor Leagues and the grand totals each year. To obtain this issue, CLICK HERE.

Incredibly, 878 professional players have had Tommy John surgery performed from 1974-2014.

As MLB cracked down on the use of performance enhancing drugs, steroid use declined and so did the number of Tommy John surgeries initially. But now Tommy John surgeries are at an all-time high in pro baseball.

Now we must ask ourselves, what has changed? What are pitchers doing today that pitchers in the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s did not?

What happened in 1994 to cause the spike in injuries and surgeries? Why are the level of injuries still abnormally high? Could the answer be right under our noses? I’ll bet it is.

The steroid era began in 1994. To maximize the effects of steroids, the focus on weight training became more intense to build strength and size. The two went hand in hand.

It was during this period in time that we began to see a dramatic rise in Tommy John surgeries and shoulder injuries.

When steroid use was taken out of the equation, the only thing that remained that pitchers in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’ didn’t do was off-season and in-season weight training.

Prior to 1995, the number of Tommy John surgeries were virtually non-existent. This wasn’t because the surgery was new. In fact, Tommy John had his elbow surgery in 1974.

This was 21 years before the number of TJ surgeries began to escalate. John pitched 11 years in the big leagues (more than most pitchers last today) before having the pioneering surgery.

It is said that pitchers who re-cover from Tommy John surgery throw harder than they did before getting hurt. According to famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, the rehab program (surgical tubing/light weights), and not TJ surgery, plays a major role in the success of pitchers returning to the mound and throwing harder.

If this is true, doesn’t it make sense to use the rehab program (surgical tubing/light weights), and not weight training, for a pitchers upper body during the season, as well as during the off-season?

Weightlifting & Steroids
Weight training for baseball players came into vogue in the early 1980’s. Since it was relatively new to the sport, off season weights were done on a small scale, mainly through circuit training for muscle tone, fat loss and cardiovascular endurance. Steroids were around, but mainly used by bodybuilders, power lifters and football players.

When I was coaching at LSU in 1983, we implemented a fairly aggressive weight lifting program for our college players. Weight lifting programs for baseball were very new back then, and more of a grand experiment through trial and error.

In the 1980’s, no one knew what the long term effects would be on pitchers’ arms and shoulders if they weight trained. The old-timers, former pro players from the 1950’s & 1960’s, were advising against it saying, “It will tighten you up.”

To prove that weight training was a grand experiment, and as insane as this may sound today, our program at LSU initially required our pitchers to bench press their body weight 10 times. While it didn’t seem so insane back then, we know how dangerous it is today for a pitcher to flat bench heavy weight.

Many other high profile college baseball programs were incorporating extensive weight lifting programs as well.

Enter The Steroid Era
As I stated above, weight training for college baseball players was introduced in the early 1980’s. College baseball players don’t live in a bubble, and they knew, or had friends, who were athletes that played other sports.

It’s well known that steroids existed in college football in the 1980’s.

Coincidentally, Mark McGwire’s college baseball career began in 1982 at USC. It was during this era that enhanced weight lifting programs for college baseball players were being introduced.

There is no documented evidence to suggest that college baseball players began taking steroids because of their relationships with other college athletes.

But there is evidence that suggests that steroids existed on college campuses in the 1980’s, and football players took them.

There is also evidence that suggests that some college baseball players did take steroids.

After McGwire hit 70 HR’s in 1998 for the St. Louis Cardinals, steroid use and weight training  in baseball escalated, and so did the number of Tommy John surgeries.

In the early 1980’s, enhanced weight lifting programs were not popular yet in professional baseball. When college players from the 1980’s began signing professional contracts, they brought with them the “new” weight training methods they had learned in college.

As baseball players were getting bigger and stronger, those who were not lifting weights or taking steroids were being overmatched by players that were.

To compete with bigger, stronger hitters, weight training and steroid use among pitchers began to escalate. Many saw velocities increase without knowing the potential risks to their labrums, ligaments, or tendons.

Professional baseball began testing for performance enhancing drugs in 2002.

It wasn’t until 2010 that they began implementing more sophisticated tests to catch players whose trainers found loopholes around the old tests. As a result, the number of TJ surgeries began to decline. But they still remained at high levels. Why?

If steroid use and enhanced weight training programs were introduced at the same time, and the number of injuries and surgeries increased proportionately, doesn’t it make sense to conclude that steroid use and enhanced weight training played a major role in the increase in injuries and surgeries?

With steroids removed, and weight training being the key remaining factor, doesn’t it make sense that weight training for pitchers has played a major role in why the number of arm injuries and surgeries still remains well above the historical norm?

To read more of this in-depth, special report which includes a complete look at the number of Tommy John surgeries in pro baseball broken down by year and whether the player was in the Major Leagues or Minor Leagues at the time, purchase the Feb. 20, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Wally Kincaid’s System Led Cerritos To 6 Titles

Wally Kincaid’s System Led Cerritos To 6 Titles

Wally Kincaid MugBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

NORWALK, Calif. — One of the greatest college baseball coaches in history was Wally Kincaid of Cerritos College.

Kincaid  coached 22 seasons (1958-77, 1979-80) and produced unparalleled results.

His teams won six California Community College state titles, more than any other coach in California history.

Even more amazing is that his ball clubs produced an incredible 60-game winning streak that spanned three seasons – the longest in baseball history.

Kincaid compiled a record of 678-163 for a .806 winning percentage which is astounding considering the quality of teams his ball clubs went against in California.

He sent over 150 former players into professional baseball.

Former players for Kincaid have gone on to enjoy great coaching careers, including George Horton (Oregon), Mike Weathers (Long Beach St.), Dave Snow (Long Beach St.), Bob Apodaca (major league pitching coach), Ken Gaylord (Cerritos College), Don Sneddon (Santa Ana College and now the winningest California JC coach in history), and Butch Hughes (Colorado Rockies) to name only a few.

 “Coach Kincaid was simply light-years ahead of everybody else when it came to coaching,” said Oregon’s Horton.

“My respect for that wonderful man is immeasurable. When he was coaching, he had the model program to study if you were a coach. Everyone wanted to know what his secret was to coaching just as basketball coaches wanted to know what Coach John Wooden was doing at UCLA when they were winning all those championships.

“Coach Kincaid had a simple approach to his offense, defense, infield and outfield practices, as well as pitching.

“While there was a simplicity involved, he would demand quality. But he also coached his players in having a complete offense which meant the short game (bunt, push bunt, fake bunt and hit, etc.) was essential to learn and execute.

“His organizational skills were off the charts, and he created an atmosphere of excellence which required repetition every day. But prior to a practice, he would spend hours and hours to make his practices efficient. Early in his career, he would spend two hours organizing every hour of practice. He adhered to that through the years.”

Horton said practices were much tougher than games.

“They were a lot tougher because of the demands put on us. I suspect Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers was like this. I understand he had a small number of plays on offense, but everyone knew them extremely well, and the execution was superb. So nobody could stop them. Coach Kincaid didn’t believe in any shortcuts to making his teams perform well. We spent many long days with quality practices designed to make our players the best they could be.

“When we got into the state playoffs or a championship game, we were not overwhelmed at all. We had been there thousands of times on a daily basis with the precision needed to perform for Coach Kincaid.”

Horton said Cerritos under Kincaid had a mystique that UCLA had in basketball and Notre Dame and USC have had in football over the years.

“During our pre-game infield just prior to contests, no words would be spoken. It was dead silent as the outfielders would be hit balls and threw them in to the proper bases as well as infielders. When you watched the pre-game infield, it was like a well oiled machine. Rarely would mistakes take place because Coach Kincaid demanded good fundamentals in practice on a daily basis with good execution”

John Herbold, who coached 51 years in southern California at Cal. St. Los Angeles, Long Beach Poly H.S. (Calif.) and Lakewood H.S. (Calif.), said he learned a great deal from Kincaid.

“Every player on his teams could execute every type of bunt with the bunt down first and third, the push bunt toward shortstop or second and the slash if the shortstop was covering third on a bunt attempt or the second baseman moving toward first base.

“Wally utilized a very tough play to defend against. If a runner was on third and a batter walked with two outs, the batter would jog to first. About 20 feet from the first base bag, he would take off, touch the first base bag and keep going to second. The catcher would obviously be flustered at seeing this and many times threw the ball away at second with one run scoring and the batter/runner now at third.

“The way you stop the play from working is that the catcher receives the ball and quickly gets the ball back to the pitcher. The second baseman then goes directly in the running path of the batter/runner coming from first base. The pitcher simply throws the ball to the second baseman who makes the tag, and the runner on third can’t advance. But you must know the play is coming. Otherwise, it is very difficult to stop it.”

4 Key Rules
Herbold said Kincaid had four simple rules.

“No. 1 was to play catch. Any fool can say that, but his teams simply did not make many errors because of the quality time they had in practice working on throwing. They were amazing to watch. No. 2 was throw strikes by the pitchers. No. 3 was put the ball in play when batting. And No. 4 was have good team spirit.”

Herbold also saw Kincaid initiate a sound play for his runner at second base that he had never witnessed before.

“With two outs, two strikes on the batter and a slow runner on second base, the runner was instructed to take off for third on a pitch that was heading down the middle of the strike zone.

“The theory was that if the batter took the pitch, it would be strike three, and the inning would be over. If he hit the ball for a single, the slow runner would undoubtedly score because of the early break.

“We utilized this play one time during a championship game and won it when a slow runner was at second and took off for third with two strikes on the batter and two outs. The batter swung at the pitch and hit a blooper just beyond the infield.

“The runner from second scored easily on the play with the run that won the championship. This is just good, sound baseball.”

Herbold said he utilized another play he picked up from Kincaid.

“With a runner on second base, strike three gets away from the catcher. The runner on second easily makes it to third while the batter/runner hustles to first and then takes off to second base which forces an unexpected throw from the catcher usually near the backstop.

“The throw from the catcher often times sails past second base into centerfield as the batter/runner now advances to third with one run scoring. How is that for a play! You score a run on a strikeout with the batter/runner advancing all the way to third.”

Horton said that if anybody continually screwed up the pre-game infield with poor throws or errors, a price would be paid.

“When I was a freshman at Cerritos, I was playing first base and uncorked a ball during pre-game infield to the catcher that missed the target. Coach Kincaid visually shot darts through me at that time and told me to get off the field.

“Boy, does that get your attention. It was at that point when I realized that I needed to stay after practice and work harder so that I wouldn’t screw up during the pre-game infield. I needed to earn the right to take infield again. And the extra work paid off.”

Horton said the short game on offense was taught on a daily basis.

“Our inside offensive game and slash was taught each day in practices. Our practices were extremely long and lasted 4 ½ to 5 hours. At the time, we had unlimited fall games and practiced six days a week. It should be noted that quality work was being done during these long practices. They were not necessarily innovative, but the same things were done pretty much every day which allowed the players to build great fundamentals in fielding, throwing, stealing and pitching

“We had a main diamond hitting station as batters would work on hitting behind runners, bunts down first and third, push bunts toward second and shortstop, as well as fake bunt and hit plays with our pitchers throwing to us in this setting. The facility at Cerritos at the time was better than many 4-year schools.”

To read more about the amazing system of Wally Kincaid, purchase the Feb. 6, 2015 edition by CLICKING HERE.

Examination Of 2014 Free Agent Draft Revealing

Examination Of 2014 Free Agent Draft Revealing

© 2015 Collegiate Baseball

As the San Francisco Giants put closure to the 2014 baseball season with their third world championship in 5-years, one can’t help but think about the genesis of a successful organization. 

All kingdoms…all dynasties, must be built on a foundation. And for Major League Baseball (MLB) organizations, the basis on which all success is built begins each June with the MLB Free Agent Amateur Draft.

While free-agent signings, via importing or post-draft opportunities, trades, etc., remain an integral piece of the puzzle, the first week in June is the “alpha and omega” with regard to the deliverable…a World Championship.

In 2014, 1,215 players were selected by 30 MLB teams in the 40-round draft. 

In analyzing the draft, the data serves as indicators and variables in teaching us about the intricacies and sophistication of the process.

The Yankees dynasty of the ‘90’s, which was assimilated by Sabean, began with the “Core Four” of Derek Jeter (1992, 1st-round, 6th overall), Andy Pettitte (1990, 22nd round), Jorge Posada (1990, 24th round) and an organically grown amateur free-agent, Mariano Rivera (1990).  

In addition, Sabean also drafted J.T. Snow (1989, 5th round), who later became one of the greatest defensive 1st basemen, ironically, in San Francisco Giants history.

Similar in nature to the architecture of the Yankees resurgence, Sabean used the MLB draft to build the Giants foundation. 

At the time of the last out of the 2014 World Series, seven organically grown players were on the field.

Buster Posey (2008, 1st round, 5th overall), Madison Bumgarner (2007, 1st round, 10th overall), Brandon Crawford (2011, 5th round), Brandon Belt (2009, 5th round), Joe Panik (2011, 1st round, 29th overall), Juan Perez (2008, 13th round) and amateur free-agent, Pablo Sandoval (2003) were all harvested by Sabean.

Other Sabean selections, Tim Lincecum (2006, 1st round, 10th overall), Matt Cain (2002, 1st round, 25th overall), played significant roles in Giants World Championship clubs of 2010 and 2012.

So what does the MLB draft mean today?  Simply said, World Championships tomorrow. 

Combined, the NCAA Division I and high school pool accounted for over three-quarters (78.68%) of the draft.

What’s interesting, is that in peeling back the onion, another layer, 381 or 62.35% of the NCAA Division I selections came from the Top 10 conferences.

The in-depth 2014 Draft analysis features one chart that gives data on how each Major League team chose their selections and another chart that shows the breakdown of how many players were chosen from the top 10 NCAA Division I conferences, 11-15, 16-20 and 21-32. To purchase the Feb. 6, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICK HERE.

Sniper Focus Essential For Pitcher Command

Sniper Focus Essential For Pitcher Command

Film Review American Sniper

Editor/Collegiate Baseball
© 2015 Collegiate Baseball

CORONADO, Calif. — Have you ever wondered why trained, military snipers can hit their target with precision one mile away but pitchers fail over and over again at hitting their mark from 60 feet 6 inches?

I recently saw the blockbuster movie American Sniper, and it really hit home about the success rate at hitting targets from these two disciplines.

According to Kenny Kendrena of Inside Edge, a company that specializes in precision statistics for professional baseball teams, data from all 2014 Major League Baseball games reveals that pitchers only hit their intended target 24 percent of the time.

The way Inside Edge defines this is either the catcher’s glove didn’t move, or it was within one baseball width from the glove.

“People will think that is a low number, I’m sure,” said Kendrena.

“But if they watch games closely, they will see that it’s very accurate. Pitchers don’t hit their intended spot as often as one would think.”

Keep in mind this success rate of 24 percent is for the elite pitchers in the world.

College and high school pitchers obviously miss at an even lower percentage.

So I did a bit of investigative work to find some answers about why snipers are so successful and what pitching coaches and pitchers can learn from these highly disciplined marksmen.

I ran a search on Google which brought up the U.S. Navy SEAL Sniper Training Program in PDF format.

So I scoured through the 314-page document and found some fascinating gems that will undoubtedly help baseball pitchers.

Beyond this information, I purchased the book American Sniper written by Chris Kyle. And he had some insight into why snipers can concentrate so well even in the harshest weather conditions.

In addition, Dr. Bill Harrison, who has worked on vision training with more professional baseball players than anyone in history, chimes in on how pitchers can gain better command of pitches.

Eye Position Absolutely Crucial
“In order to see what is required during aiming, the shooter must know how to use his eye,” according to the U.S. Navy SEAL Sniper Training Program.

“Variations in the positions of the eye to the telescope will cause variations in the image received by the eye. The placement of the eye in this respect is called eye relief. Proper eye relief is approximately 2-3 inches from the exit pupil of the telescope and can be determined to be correct when the shooter has a full field of view in the telescope with no shadows.

“If the sniper’s eye is located without proper eye relief, a circular shadow will occur in the field of vision, reducing the field size, hindering observation, and, in general, making aiming difficult.

“If the eye is shifted to one side or another of the exit pupil, crescent shaped shadows will appear on the edges of the eyepiece. If these crescent shaped shadows appear, the bullet will strike to the side away from the shadow. Therefore, when the sniper has a full field of view and is focusing on the intersection of the crosshairs, he has aligned his sight.”

Dr. Harrison was asked if any company has ever invented a crosshairs for pitchers to view through that might sharpen their aiming focus.

In the SEAL sniper training program, it is said that having a target quartered with crosshairs maximizes the chance of a hit with the first shot.

“In the early 90s, we worked with the U.S. shooting team,” said Dr. Harrison.

“A lot of them were trap and skeet shooters. I was fascinated then by their approach to marksmanship, and a lot of them had military experience. They were receptive to learning more about vision and what you can do to hit the target with more precision.

“Trap and skeet shooters weren’t interested in hitting 95 out of 100. They felt 98 out of 100 was OK. What they expected was 99 or 100 out of 100. That was their mind set, and they weren’t interested in hitting their target some of the time. I’m sure snipers are exactly the same.

“You must find out if if aiming is precise or if there is any quivering with the eye. I would think that snipers are more precise with their eyeball aiming than a general shooter. And they have to be more precise than a trap or skeet shooter.

“There is another element. If you are precise in aiming at a target, are you thinking about other things, including what your body feels like? Or is your attention 100 percent on what you are doing?

“I know you are absolutely right that a pitcher must be a sniper.”

With sniper training, staying still is of utmost importance. But as a pitcher, your head and body are in constant movement until the pitch is released. And even then, the head and body are moving until the follow through is finished.

More On Sniper Vision For Pitchers
To read more of the in-depth article, CLICK HERE by purchasing the Feb. 6, 2015 edition for this special report. Concepts taught by the U.S. Navy SEAL Sniper Program are explained along with in-depth analysis by Dr. Bill Harrison who has worked with more professional baseball players on their athletic vision than anyone in history.

Keeping the eyes still is vital while steadiness of sniper like focus is also crucial. Dr. Harrison explains that getting target oriented by the pitcher prior to the pitching sequence is essential along with having pinpoint focus on the target at the precise moment of ball release.

Pitchers must make adjustments just like snipers. The necessity of proper breathing for more precision target hitting and why the vagus nerve is crucial in this process is covered along with a section on why trigger control is important. The all-important area of concentration is explained and why demanding mental pressure by instructors is vital to refine those skills, among other areas in this article.

Hit By Pitch Epidemic Threatens Game Integrity

Hit By Pitch Epidemic Threatens Game Integrity

Irvine Player Hit By Pitch 2007 CWSBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball
© 2015 Collegiate Baseball

ORLANDO, Fla. — A massive amount of hit batters took place during the 2014 college baseball season, a good portion on purpose by batters trying to gain an edge.

As a result, the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee has cracked down with precise wording in the rule to slow down this tactic.

Speaking in front of NCAA Division I, II and III coaches at the Rules Meeting at the American Baseball Coaches Association convention, NCAA National Coordinator of Umpires George Drouches outlined an epidemic that took place last year across NCAA baseball with batters who were purposely hit by pitches.

Beyond normal hit by pitches, batters purposely moved into pitches as they were drilled in many parts of their bodies to get on base

According to the 2014 final NCAA Division I statistics, batters were hit 91 times or more on 23 different teams last season.

Incredibly, 10 teams were hit 101 or more times last season.

The new rule states that a batter must make an attempt to avoid being hit by the ball.

If the umpire rules the batter did not make an attempt to get out of the way, or that he leaned into the path of the ball, a pitch inside the strike zone that touches the batter will be called a strike.

If the pitch is outside the strike zone, it will be called a ball.

The national team leader in hit by pitches last season was Maryland with 126 hit by pitches.

Eleven batters were hit 11 or more times with three being hit 19 or 20 times.

According to the final 2014 NCAA Division I statistics, there were 33 players who were hit 20 or more times last season led by Chris Cook of George Mason (31 HBP in 56 games) and Aaron Payne of Oregon (31 HBP in 64 games).

As far as NCAA Division II, Lander University batters were hit 130 times in 61 games. In NCAA Division III, Heidelberg was No. 1 with 116 hit batters in 44 games.

In junior college baseball, Hutchinson C.C. led NJCAA Division I schools with 134 hit batters in 60 games.

This is hardly the first time there has been a problem with batters purposely getting hit by pitches.

It has been a problem for well over 30 years as the NCAA Rules Committee has wrestled with this problem when severe flareups of hit batters have taken place.

When an all-time record 53 batters were hit in only 15 games during the 2007 College World Series, the NCAA Rules Committee took a tough stance on batters purposely getting hit by pitches.

More than half of the 53 hit batters purposely stuck a part of their body in front of pitches.

Shortly after the 2007 College World Series, the Rules Committee took a stance that that batters must make an attempt to avoid the pitch to be awarded first base.

The wording was changed slightly in subsequent years. But now batters must once again make an attempt to avoid being hit by the ball or they will not be allowed to take first base.

The most prolific hit by pitch artist college baseball has ever witnessed, Tyler Crabtree, has worked his tactics the past three years.

Last season for NCAA Division II Central Oklahoma University, he was hit a modest 23 times in 44 games.

But the year prior, he was hit 41 times in 49 games as the leadoff hitter.

This tied the NCAA all divisions record of 41 set by Chris Kline of Lincoln Memorial in 1997.

One year earlier, Crabtree was hit 41 times in 49 games at Eastern Oklahoma St. J.C.

Over a 3-year period, Crabtree was hit a staggering 105 times in 142 games.

No college baseball player has ever been drilled this many times over three years.

To read more about the epidemic of hit batters in college baseball, purchase the Jan. 23, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Will Flat Seam Baseball Change College Game?

Will Flat Seam Baseball Change College Game?

Flat Seam vs High Seam BallFor the first time in 155 years of college baseball, teams will utilize the flat seam baseball during the spring season which is expected to infuse more offense into the game.

NCAA Division I, II and III championships will use the flat seam ball in 2015 which means teams in these divisions will use the ball throughout the regular season.

The NAIA championship will also use the flat seam ball in 2015 as schools use the ball during the season.

NJCAA Division I, II and III championships will use the flat seam ball beginning with the 2016 championship as junior colleges switch to these balls during the 2016 season.

Northwest junior colleges (Washington, Oregon, British Columbia) within the Pacific Association Division will use flat seam balls in 2015 while California junior colleges will wait until 2016 to utilize them.

Since BBCOR specification bats have been required with the 2011 season, offensive numbers have plummeted in college baseball.

The poster child for lack of offense took place at the 2013 and 2014 NCAA Division I College World Series.

Only three home runs were hit in 14 games in 2013 while only three were hit in 16 games last June. It marked the lowest home run total since 1966 when only two home runs were hit in 15 games.

From an all-time high of 62 homers at the 1998 College World Series, the numbers have sunk lower and lower with 9 in 2011, 10 in 2012 and 3 the last two years.

Numbers the last three years have closely mirrored the wood bat era in college baseball which took place up to the 1973 season.

After several months of testing at the NCAA Bat Certification lab during the summer of 2013 at Washington State University, results showed that the flat seam ball will travel further than a raised seam ball due to the “drag effect.”

The greater the distance a ball travels, the greater the drag effect.

The test was conducted with an average ball exit speed from a machine at 95 mph with a spin rate of 1,400 RPM and a launch angle of 25 degrees. These parameters were set because they replicate the settings of a typical home run or a hit that could become a home run.

The average distance the raised seam ball traveled was 367 feet while the average distance the flat seam ball traveled was 387 feet — 20 feet further.

The home run should be back in the game but not to the extent where it was several years ago before the BBCOR bat started being used.

Craig Keilitz, executive director of the American Baseball Coaches Association, said that he talked to about 50 coaches during the fall who have utilized the flat seam baseball during practices and games.

“The majority of those coaches said they saw a difference in the carry compared to the raised seam ball that has been used in college baseball for many years,” said Keilitz.

“I am excited to see how the ball performs during the 2015 season with schools that use it and how the numbers wind up, especially home runs.

“I would personally like to see more home runs in college baseball. But we don’t need to go back to the extreme number of home runs we had before.

“It appears this ball will allow for possibly better home run production than the last few years. But we have to wait and see.”

Cold Weather Concerns
Dan Blewett, a former college player who now is the owner of War Bird Training Academy in Normal, Ill., feels a big problem may take place with cold weather early in the season with the flat seam ball for pitchers.

“Going to school in Baltimore, this was a ‘southern’ trip for us – one that would escape the frostbitten northern air,” said Blewett.

“We lost the first game of my college career 2-1, a 14-inning affair that lasted almost five hours amid snow flurries and chattering teeth.

“It was classic February college baseball – cold and windy.

“Hundreds of schools tolerate this weather for more than half of their spring season, but it will quickly become less tolerable as they transition to flat seam baseballs. These games were playable as long as the field was dry and free of snow.

“What most don’t realize is that these games were made playable in large part because of high-seam baseballs, which will be a thing of the past in 2015.

“Most casual onlookers don’t see the big deal – grab the baseball and throw it, right? Not so fast.

“The issue of foreign substance use will become rampant in college baseball as college pitchers desperately try to grip a cold, flat, dry ball with cold, dry hands.

“As such, what was a minor problem in professional baseball will become a much larger problem in college baseball.

“The flat-seam baseball used in the minor leagues is very difficult to grip and throw in temperatures below 40 degrees, especially with wind and dry air.

“The Major League ball is even worse. Fortunately for professionals, this is only an issue in April and October, as the bulk of the season is played in the warmth of the summer.

“Half of the college season is over by the time April rolls around.”

Stark Differences
Blewett said there are major differences between the flat seam and high seam balls.

“1. Flat seam balls feel rounder. Larger seams protrude from the surface of high seam balls, making the ball feel square by comparison. Flat seams make the ball feel smaller, which can also make them feel less secure in the hand. Large seams can be wedged between fingers on breaking balls, but flat seam balls don’t nest as well.

“2. The leather is slicker. Leather on pro baseballs appears to be of higher quality, and it tends to get slicker and shinier the more it hits the mitt. Pro balls become souvenirs after just an at-bat or two, on average, but colleges often retrieve foul balls. This means longer circulation time. Balls that last a few innings are likely to get harder to grip as the game wears on.

“3. Pro balls are rubbed up. This makes matters worse, as ‘taking the shine’ off the pearly white ball requires very fine mud to be rubbed on. This fine mud dries into dust. And dusty baseballs are (you guessed it) harder to grip. Though the darkened color may prove a visual advantage, this is a tactile disadvantage to the pitcher.

“4. The seams are flat and narrow. Though this is obvious, flat seams mean that more curves and sliders will slip out. The MLB ball has seams that are flatter and narrower than even the minor league ball, which can make the transition to the big leagues more difficult for minor leaguers.

“5. Round balls act differently than square balls. Physics dictates that a high-seamed ball will have more turbulent flight than a flat-seamed ball, resulting in more pitch movement. However, pitchers transitioning to pro baseballs report the opposite.”

Blewett said that because the pro ball is rounder, finger pressure is more often erroneously sent through the descending edges of the ball, resulting in unintended cut and run on fastballs.

“Pitchers in the college game will suddenly find their fastballs doing things they’ve never done before, and they’ll be scrambling for answers. But, the issue comes down to pitch slippage, predominantly on breaking balls.

“It’s very difficult to ‘feel’ the ball when it’s cold, as both the leather and the skin are cold, dry and slick.

“Ask any pro pitcher throwing under these conditions, and he’ll tell you that it affects his confidence in his breaking pitches, because the ball feels insecure in the hand.

“Pitchers want to grip and rip their curve or slider, but if they’re afraid it’s going to fly over the batter’s head, they end up choosing pitches based on the ball rather than the count and situation.

“This is what we don’t want – for the ball to dictate how the game is played.

“What does this mean for college baseball?

“Collegiate pitchers will be forced to find comfort with flat seam balls as they throw them in fall and winter workouts, giving them a trial run before the season.

“But, part of this learning curve will be finding ways to get their old grip on the new baseball.

“The NCAA and other national organizations are likely to have a problem on their hands enforcing a rule against gripping aids, one that they never had to deal with.

“Hopefully, players are discrete if they use substances, and the game can go on without interruption, much like pro baseball has.

“But, if umpires decide to be strict, there may have to be rule changes.

“Players will be throwing in front of scouts in 40-degree weather with flat seam balls.

“Rather than hang pitch after pitch and see their draft stock fall, they’re going to find a substance to help them get their old grip back.

“Is this cheating? I call it survival.

“Both MLB and the NCAA should consider creating a list of approved substances that can be used sparingly to enhance grip.

“Rosin can create tremendously sticky skin when used in warm weather. So substances that mimic that same degree of tack should be considered legal within the current ethos of the game during cold weather.”

More On Flat Seam Vs. High Seam Ball
To read more of the in-depth story of this change in baseballs, purchase the Jan. 2, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE. Mississippi State pitching coach Butch Thompson explains his thoughts on the subject as well as Chicago Cubs’ Minor League Pitching Coordinator Derek Johnson.

12 New Baseball Products Win Best Of Show

12 New Baseball Products Win Best Of Show

2015 Best Of Show LogoTwelve innovative products at the recent American Baseball Coaches Association convention trade show in Orlando, Fla. were awarded Best of Show certificates by Collegiate Baseball.

There were 61 nominations submitted which features the top new baseball products of 2014.

Here are the 12 winners chosen by Collegiate Baseball’s Best of Show selection committee with a capsule summary of what each product does.

For the complete story which gives in-depth explanations of each product, costs, warranties and contact information, purchase the Jan. 23, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Ra-Vid ProSport GraphicRadar/Video/Stopwatch Gun
Professional scouts and college coaches have wrestled for years with the nagging problem of juggling a radar gun, video camera and stopwatch when evaluating prospects.

Ra-Vid Technologies has come up with an answer with the Ra-Vid ProSport gun which combines all three of these elements for the first time in history.

This firm has teamed with Sony and Stalker to have a unit that records and captures speed as well as register time with a 1/100 second stopwatch all in a 3-pound hand-held unit.

SwingTracker is a performance analysis and improvement technology that collects batting swing data at a rate greater than 11,000 data points per second.

A special sensor is mounted to the bottom knob of a baseball bat with a strap which temporarily mounts it to that location. The sensor sends signals to a cellphone with the SwingTracker App.

As the sensor collects data, virtually any measure about the swing can be obtained.

Initially, SwingTracker calculates and reports 11 metrics that are summarized into four core elements of the swing — swing, quickness, power and control.

Within each core swing measure are 1-4 individual metrics:

Speed: Maximum hand speed (mph), maximum barrel speed (mph), speed efficiency (percent), forward bat speed (mph).

Quickness: Trigger to impact time (milliseconds).

Power: Applied power (watts), maximum acceleration (mph/second), impact momentum (kilogram meters per second).

Control: Approach angle (degrees), hand cast (inches), distance in the zone (inches).

The visualization of the swing is also an important tool to understand and improve.

SwingTracker provides a 3D motion view of the swing plane and path to the ball recreated in actual speed, slow and super slow modes.

If this wasn’t enough, SwingTracker utilizes a mobile device’s video camera in a unique way. Through a proprietary approach that enhances the device’s video resolution and precisely captures ball impact, SwingTracker synchronizes swing video with the data from the sensor for a complete picture of the swing.

Motus Pitching Sleeve
Motus has developed break-through movement analysis technology that is changing the way pitchers, coaches, medical and training staff monitor workloads and improve player performance.

Already used by nine MLB organizations, the company’s revolutionary mThrow analytics platform will be available to all in February 2015 via a compression sleeve equipped with a Motus-developed wearable device.

That device communicates directly to the mThrow mobile app to provide metrics on players’ mechanics and cumulative workloads throughout the season indicating injury risk.

A sensor is embedded into the Motus Pitching Sleeve that measures workloads and stress on the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow of the pitcher along with eight other metrics.

They include elbow torque, release point, elbow height, arm slot, wrist speed, elbow speed, arm speed, forearm rotation and maximum shoulder rotation.

Back-Spin Tee
This unique tee holds the ball from the top which is a vast departure from normal tees that have been on the market for decades.

It has been designed to allow batters to hit line drives by changing the batters’ visual perspective of focus to the bottom 2/3 of the ball.

Invented by Jarrett Gardner and his younger brother Taylor, the Back-Spin Tee has been a work in progress for over nine months.

Recently a study was conducted with the Back-Spin Tee as 30,000 balls were struck from five years olds to professionals. This tee produced a staggering 94 percent line drives, according to the inventors.

It is the only tee in the world that has a cone that rotates thereby saving the wear and tear points of contact.

Training Sled
A intriguing new product called the Power Drive Performance Sled has been invented by John Miller.

It trains baseball players to initiate power from the ground up for pitching, hitting, position throwing and fielding. It is a baseball training aid for developing skills and a conditioning aid for adding strength and is ergonomically designed for baseball.

Players will increase performance by learning to use their stronger lower body to produce power and initiate athletic skill movements.

Hittinguru 3D
Hittinguru 3D is the world’s only markerless (no sensors or pressure plates are used), single camera video system that captures full body motion with 2D and 3D video tracking and training capabilities.

The intuitive dashboard provides the user with multiple synchronized views, weight transfer and balance tracking, automated record and replay, on-line lesson sharing, key position learning, multi-user management and much more.

This system offers a 270 degree rotational 3D viewing system to analyze each player’s swing from stance to finish. The system instantly provides over 33 key metrics, including hand path and speed, time to impact and key angles of up to 25 body joints during key stages of the swing.

TAP 360 System
The TAP 360 system utilizes the time-proven TAP (Troutwine Athletic Profile) assessment of athletes’ mental makeup, a patent pending analytics engine and the latest technology to deliver a complete system for evaluating, coaching and developing the mental intangibles relating to athletic performance.

The test only takes 20 minutes but reveals vital information to coaches such as:

• Mental toughness.
• Competitive desire.
• Work habits.
• Mental processing speed.
• Coachability

Pitch Zone, Height Locator
A product 40 years in the making has just been developed by Dr. Bill and Ryan Harrison, two of the elite vision performance specialists in baseball.

For many years, both of these giants in the industry have tried to teach hitters how to visually learn their unique strike zones.

The Pitch Zone Locator and Height Zone Locator are a huge step in this direction which gives coaches and players a method to understand strike zones in three dimensions of a pitch (in and out, up and down and late and early).

Webgem Glove Care System
One of the biggest problems in all of baseball is maximizing the life of gloves. Who hasn’t seen an expensive glove destroyed by neglect or utilizing oil products that weigh the glove down or use a product that causes the glove to deteriorate.

The system includes a rigid form that rests on the pocket of the glove to keep a specific shape you want, a protective case and the firm’s proprietary glove conditioner as well as a cleaning rag.

There are currently six different designs for the rigid forms that allow the glove to remain at a precise shape which provides the player with consistent feel every time he goes out to practice or play.

Baseball Academics App
One of the most annoying problems that coaches endure are defensive players who don’t execute situations properly on the baseball field because of mental mistakes.

A solution to this problem has been addressed by a Baseball Academics. This company has developed an App to assist baseball players of all ages to become better fielders by quizzing them on what to do with the ball when it is hit to them based on numerous variables.

This App creates a series of plays in a 30-second cycle, and the fielder presses the base that he would throw to. The goal is to do as many plays in the 30-second drill as possible while maintaining the highest possible degree of accuracy.

JUGS’ Backyard Bullpen
Practicing your skills as a pitcher can become exasperating at times when no catchers are available to throw to for bullpens.

This happens all the time to high school pitchers in the fall when catchers are playing other sports or simply refuse to do it because catching is hard on the knees and tough work.

A great solution to this nagging problem is the JUGS Backyard Bullpen invented by Dave Candello and Greg Anderson, both longtime JUGS employees.

This system, which any pitcher can buy and put in his parents’ backyard, features a strike zone with 12 individual hit-your-spot pockets to isolate specific spots to aim for.

It also has a seven foot protective netting surrounding this strike zone which will catch any wild throws by pitchers.

The system also includes a JUGS Radar Cube (uses 6 AA batteries that last 8 hours) for velocity readout of pitches and tripod which gives the same accuracy index as the JUGS Radar Gun (plus or minus 1/2 mph). The Radar Cube and tripod are placed in back of the netting.

In addition, you receive 15 Perfect Pitch throwing baseballs. These are not simply baseballs. Each ball has a specific count with a pitch you are working on (for example changeup), and a location diagram grid with dots which pinpoints spots you are striving to hit.

Pitchers then take the mound and attempt to throw a perfect changeup (or other pitch directed on the ball) to the proper location.

After all balls are thrown, the pitcher recovers balls from each pocket to determine his accuracy and what must be worked on. He can write down this information or put it in a computer.

If he has a recorder, he can look at the velocity he has thrown after releasing the pitch and verbally give the MPH he threw the pitch and what pitch it was. Then you can track the differentials between fastballs and other pitches as far as miles per hour.

In short, the pitcher can do all of this now without anyone being there. This system will help pitchers spot their pitches based on count and speed. Pitchers will be able to work at their skills in practice until it becomes second nature in a game. They will not only isolate the strike zone, but a certain spot in the zone.

Dartfish Note App
Dartfish Note will take the use of video and practice performance feedback to new levels. What makes this toolset powerful is the way coaches can quickly review a player’s performance in practice and determine the areas that player needs to work on to improve. Coaches can review any player’s practice video – with performance data.

When you find the video that you want to review, for example all fastballs that missed the plate for a particular pitcher, you can download those pitches into the mobile App Dartfish Express and be able to review the video anywhere at any time even if you are not connected to the internet.