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As a batter, should you be guessing pitches? What should you look for? What should be your mindset in the box when facing a tough pitcher with nasty off-speed stuff? A good rule of thumb that you hear around the baseball world is, “If the pitcher has a good fastball, you have to look fastball and react to off speed.” Staying balanced with your stride and keeping your hands back will allow you to hit the off-speed even if you’re fooled.
Now let’s hear from a few of the top big leaguers and see what they have to say about, guessing pitches, their mindset in the batter’s box, hitting a curveball, slider, cutter, and splitter, and more. All but two of the guys below have made an All-Star team, and it’s common knowledge that it’s only a matter of time before Andrew McCutchen and Starlin Castro join the ranks. Enjoy.
The following quotes were either taken out of a recent Sports Illustrated article titled, “Bangers and Mash” or from personal interviews I’ve done with big leaguers.
Robinson Cano on finding out that he was one of the best in the bigs at hitting the slider: “I didn’t know I was a good slider hitter. I don’t look for any special pitch, just for something in the middle of the plate. That’s the only way to drive the ball.”
Andrew McCutchen on hitting a curveball: “They always say that the way to hit a curveball is to hit the fastball. If you’re ready to hit the fastball, you can hit anything. As long as you’re set, your base is good, you can adjust to the off speed.”
Rod Carew, Hall of Famer, on hitting a curveball, “when you hit a curveball, you have to hit it with an imagination. You can’t hit a curveball where you see it, you have to hit it where it’s going.”
Ben Zobrist on what his mindset is in the batter’s box, “I try to simplify things. I do my routine and focus on the one pitch I’m looking for and then I’m just looking for the release point.”
Howard Johnson, former NL All-Star and Mets’ hitting coach on how he would describe his mindset at the plate, “Quiet.”