Ultimate Process For Calling Pitches In Games

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

TUCSON, Ariz. — What is the ultimate process for arriving at an ideal pitch mix against opponent hitters?

If you analyze and implement a plan for every facet of what is involved, you have given your pitcher a great chance for success.

In talking to great pitching coaches over the years dating back to the early 1970s, here is what the best in the business have done.

What Is The Strike Zone?
This sounds like the most obvious question in the world.

But how many college and high school coaches in baseball make a serious effort to find out the precise strike zone of each home plate umpire they face?

Most coaches simply deal with the strike zone once the game starts and adjust from that point.

The reality is strike zones are all over the map which drive coaches, hitters and pitchers mad. Some zones are incredibly small while others are as large as the Grand Canyon.

In Major League Baseball, many teams get a readout before every game on what the strike zone will be of the home plate umpire working that day and where he likes to call strikes.

It stands to reason that college and high school coaches would want this valuable information as well and keep detailed records of what each home plate umpire likes to call a strike.

Strangely, very few coaches take the time to track this vital information that will help their pitchers and hitters thrive.

Progressive coaches should have a diagram of the strike zone for every home plate umpire they face broken into right and lefthanded batters.

The reality is that the strike zone slightly changes with every home plate umpire depending on whether a right or left handed batter steps to the plate.

An umpire with proper mechanics typically positions his head on the side of the catcher’s head that the batter is hitting from.

When a righthanded batter comes to the plate, the umpire’s head is behind and to the left of the catcher’s head. When a lefthanded hitter steps into the box, the ump switches to the right side of the catcher’s head.

In most cases, strikes are correctly called on the inside edge of the plate. But outside strikes are much more difficult to see for an umpire.

Some umpires have the skill to call consistent strikes on the outside edge of the zone while others don’t.

Knowing what the precise zone is for right and lefthanded batters for each umpire is essential.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your starting pitcher warm up prior to a game with the knowledge that he will be throwing to a dime-sized strike zone and knows precisely what that umpire likes to call strikes? That goes for every pitcher who follows in that game as well. Your hitters will benefit as well knowing that zone prior to a game.

If you have a home plate with a gigantic strike zone, then why not work on exploiting that big zone to its fullest prior to a game in the bullpen. Some umps even like to call strikes off the plate. Knowledge will help exploit those tendencies to your advantage.

If a coach knows which home plate umpire will be working the next game, then pitchers can work on exploiting the zone in practice.

That’s why knowing the strike zone is No. 1 in our book.

To read more of this article, purchase the Feb. 9, 2018 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.

Seven other important areas are covered in the article, including receiving pitches properly, scouting an opponent, what to look for with 26 stance and swing characteristics observed by Jerry Weinstein, value of effective velocity, how pitch selection evolves and statistical data.