Gary Ward’s Ultimate Hitting System Explored 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

STILLWATER, Okla. — Hitting discipline is becoming rare in baseball.

The highest amount of strikeouts took place last season in NCAA Div. I baseball over the past 50 years. Teams averaged a record 8.08 strikeouts per nine innings as the quest to hit more home runs grew.

Also consider the batting average for Division I teams was only .269 in 2019 — the lowest in the past 47 years.

The final year of wood bats being used in college baseball (1973) was the last time batting averages were lower (.266) in Division I baseball.

In the September 6 edition of Collegiate Baseball, we delved into the NCAA Div. I Baseball Statistics Trends report which was compiled by Jeff Williams, Associate Director of Media Coordination and Statistics with the NCAA.

In an effort to find out why hitting discipline is suffering so much, we contacted the greatest hitting coach of all time in Gary Ward, former head coach at Oklahoma State.

He has spent a lifetime studying hitting and why hitters thrive and fail.

In 19 years as the head coach with the Cowboys, his teams led all NCAA Div. I teams in run production six times.

During those 19 years, his teams averaged 9.2 runs per game.

What fueled that incredible run production was a remarkable on-base percentage by his hitters which was kick started by walks because of disciplined hitters who refused to swing at marginal pitches.

When you look at the on-base percentage of Ward’s teams during that time, his offense never had a lower on-base percentage than .423 after his first two seasons with the Cowboys.

During the 1987 and 1988 seasons, the on-base percentages were extraordinary at .500 and .517.

His teams walked more than any school in NCAA Div. I history as they averaged 7.1 walks per game.

In 15 of those 19 seasons, his batters walked at least 415 times a season with a high of 607 walks during the 1986 season. That year, OSU batters walked an average of 8.5 times per game.

In many of those years, his hitters walked 60 percent while striking out 40 percent when comparing the two numbers.

To read more of this article, purchase the Oct. 4, 2019 edition or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. Gary Ward delves into how his hitting system was arrived at by extensively studying golf, tennis and baseball mechanics, why reverse engineering is crucial, the importance of not dictating to hitters and allowing them to own everything they do along with the value of ball exit speed. This story is the first time he has shared his differential training system and what defines poor batting practice.