Husband Explains What Pitching Deception Is

“Hitting is timing and pitching is upsetting timing.”
— Warren Spahn

Special To Collegiate Baseball

PALMDALE, Calif. — When you boil baseball down to the core issue, hitting the ball hard is ground zero. 

Hard contact is the key on both sides of the ball, hitting and pitching. 

Pitchers are trying to avoid hard contact while hitters live for that moment of a perfectly hit baseball.

That’s where I began with all my research in the early 1990’s, and that’s where MLB baseball is finally heading toward now with the recent love affair with exit velocity and launch angle as the key hitting metrics. 

But what is the core reason why the hardest contact happens or not, in the case of pitchers?

I think if we could ask Warren Spahn what he meant by upsetting timing, his answer would be deception. 

How Hitters React
How can hitters cover all speeds that a pitcher can throw? How can hitters react quicker?

Even when hitters maximize their reaction time, the elite pitcher has up to 40 MPH of speed differentials they can throw, and hitters at their most elite reactionary level can only handle about 6-8 MPH of speed change. 

This is a key point.

Hitters can hit pitches with big speed differentials, but when pitch sequences are Effective Velocity (Ev) efficient (in an Ev Pitching Tunnel with 6 MPH between pitches) hard contact is greatly minimized.  

An Ev Tunnel is when two pitches, usually a fastball and an off speed pitch, start out in the same horizontal and vertical planes together for 20 feet. Then the spins and velocities of these pitches cause the balls to go different directions.

If the release point of the pitcher is identical with both pitches, and the ball flight is the same for the first 20 feet, it makes it extremely difficult on a hitter to square up a pitch.

This is one of the key elements of deception that we uncovered.  

Having to react to multiple speed pitches is a core element in hitting. 

Imagine Tiger Woods at the top of his backswing and suddenly, the ball was moved to a new location. 

This would force him to react and alter his swing to match the new ball location. 

Would his swing be as powerful? Would the contact be as solid? Would the ball flight be as accurate? 

No, no and no. 

Reacting in mid-swing is the key ingredient in hitting a baseball that is not present in golf, and as you might guess, causes huge issues in hitting a pitched ball at multiple speeds. 

Having spent over four years as a PGA assistant golf professional after my playing career ended, I learned what created power and consistent contact in the golf swing. 

Efficient mechanics of the swing is king in golf and it is also why the baseball world is full of 5 o’clock hitters.

Guys who rake in batting practice and struggle in games have mastered their body timing but failed at matching it to pitch timing. 

The true art in hitting is taking the efficient swing mechanic and applying that to the multiple speeds and visual tricks that pitchers are going to throw at you in the name of deception. 

Next Level Testing
I tested visual skills of hitters to find out what they could see and when they saw it. 

I found that hitters of all levels can see pitch direction (up/down/in/out) within 10 feet out of the pitchers hand.  

Most of the hitters could also see pitch spin from 16-30 feet after delivery. 

Seeing the spin helps identify the pitch type and therefore the speed of the pitch. 

If the hitter sees the dot of the slider spin, he knows the pitch is slower than the fastball and could theoretically adjust the timing and hit the ball at maximum exit velocity.

While it is true hitters can see spin, there was a weird delay with them calling out the pitch type they saw. 

This made me believe they really could not adjust to the timing of the pitch in real time. 

That hypothesis led to an experiment of over 12,000 at bats with amateur hitters to find out. 

To read more of this in-depth article on deception in pitching, purchase the Oct. 6, 2017 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.  

Perry Husband delves deeply into pitching deception as he explains EV Tunnels and why hitters are fooled.

He explains what MLB data showed of over 5 million pitches, the Rule of 50/20/20/10 and how softly hit outs and strikeouts happen,  how deception has helped teams win national championships in baseball and softball, old school deception and the reality of it when all factors are considered.

He also explains why pitcher Keith Foulke of the Red Sox was so successful during the 2004 World Series, why deception has many layers and a breakdown of Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge when it comes to pitching deception, plus much more.

Subscribers to Collegiate Baseball receive the 87-page e-book Secrets of Pitching for FREE!