Discipline In Hitting Equals Loads Of Runs

Mike Martin Florida St MugBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

Florida St. has utilized a tactic for years that pays off with loads of runs. Under hitting coach Mike Martin, Jr., hitter discipline has been one of the key components in the offensive production.

A byproduct of hitters who don’t chase anything in sight is walks. The Seminoles currently lead the nation with 213 walks in 29 games which is 46 more than second place Mississippi St.

FSU hitters are averaging 7.3 walks per game this season which has forced pitchers to throw hitter’s pitches.

When pitchers throw strikes, Seminole batters routinely crush them as attested to 90 extra base hits (58 doubles, 29 homers and 3 triples).

Seminole hitters refuse to buckle on inside pitches as they have been hit 48 times (4th in the nation). Fourteen different hitters have been plunked this year.

When you add it all up, FSU’s on-base percentage is No. 1 in the nation at .424. The net result of all this offensive activity is that FSU is No. 2 in the nation in runs (241) and No. 3 in scoring (8.3 per game).

To prove hitter discipline works, FSU’s batting average currently is only .271 (130th out of 301 NCAA Division I teams), which is well below what Seminole teams typically produce under Coach Martin. But runs are still being scored in droves.

Entering his 18th season as the team’s hitting coach, Martin is widely recognized as one of the bright minds in baseball.

Heading into the 2015 season, the Seminoles under Martin have batted .309, averaged 7.97 runs per game and posted a .482 slugging percentage over the past 17 seasons. Florida State has played in six College World Series, 13 Super Regionals and 17 consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

The Seminoles have batted .300 or better 11 times and posted an on-base percentage of at least .400 15 times. Six of the top 11 hitting teams in FSU history have come under Martin’s watch.

“Mike, Jr. is tireless in his approach to teaching home plate discipline with our hitters” said FSU Head Coach Mike Martin, the Seminoles’ skipper the past 36 years and father of Mike, Jr.

“He has utilized this approach for many years, but it takes a great deal of effort to refine the discipline of hitters when they first come into the program. He throws batting practice to our guys nearly every day.

“But he is big on not having our guys swinging at a pitch early in the count that is a borderline strike. If the ball is on the outside corner, first pitch, we call that a pitcher’s pitch. We won’t swing at that.

“Now as we get into the count, that mentality of course changes. If a guy is able to throw pitches there all day long, then of course we must make adjustments. But early in the game if he is having trouble, we won’t go out and swing at something quickly that’s off the plate.”

The FSU skipper said that his hitters over time become comfortable with this approach.

“I’m not saying this is the best approach. Every coach is different in his offensive philosophy. Ours just happens to be that we preach this concept and work on it every day. When you are disciplined like this, it allows our hitters to get good pitches to hit more often than not.

“I would like to emphasize that we don’t go to the plate to walk. We don’t want anybody to think that’s what we do. If hitters ever go to the plate with the thought of walking, they shouldn’t take their bat with them. Our hitters are going to be aggressive if the ball is in the strike zone. Guys who we recruit didn’t come to Florida St. to walk. We want every recruit to realize that when a pitch is thrown for a strike, we try to rip it.

“But when a pitch is off the plate, and you swing at it, you are doing the guy on the mound a big favor. And we don’t like to do those type of favors.

“We just want to be sure our hitters know their own strike zone. And Mike, Jr. deserves the credit for doing such a great job at teaching our guys what they are.”

To read more about this in-depth story on hitting discipline and why it produces loads of runs, purchase the April 17, 2015 or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. The rest of the story includes how long it takes to train a disciplined hitter at Florida St and the entire process of being disciplined from former Oklahoma State Hall of Fame coach Gary Ward and why it works.