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Pitcher, Catcher, Coach Communication

Posted on July 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

What is the best way to communicate a game plan?  Before every series in Major League Baseball there is a meeting between all the pitchers, catchers and pitching coaches.  Usually some position players sneak in if they have played previously for the opposing team or they play a middle infield defensive position.  With the current defensive shifting trends of today I wouldn't be surprised if the whole infield attends. But the most important relationship is between the pitcher and catcher.

In my experience the meetings consisted of the pitching coach going down the list of opposing hitters and reading a sentence or two about what the scouting department thinks is the best way to get each hitter out.  Then other pitchers or a veteran catcher will generally chime in about which pitch Lokation, selection, and sequencing that had been successful in the past.  

Sometimes there are some pretty vague terms being thrown around the room at some pretty high levels of baseball.  Some of the phrases coaches say are like "hard in, soft away", "will chase behind in the count", "pull hitter", "likes first pitch fastball", "will chase breaking ball", etc.  

Before I invented the the Lokator System, sequences had never been spelled out and named.  Instead of coaches talking about just pitching a hitter away, they can now easily distinguish between outer third of the plate in the Go Zone and the edge of the plate in the Chase Zone.  

Inside off the plate in a Purpose Zone is different than inside for a strike in a Go or Chase Zone.  Catchers can call pitches in the bottom edge Strike Zone in the Chase Zone 4 when the count calls for more aggressiveness on the plate or in a double play situation.  It is easy for catchers to communicate Freeze Zones when calling pitches to hitter's with a slow bat compared to a pitch lower in the Strike Zone.

Coaches who call pitches from the dugout can decide sequencing, pitch selection, and call a Lokation number when communicating a spot to hit.  Once the pitcher, catcher, and coach get familiar with the Lokator System, there won't be any confusion between where the catcher is giving the target and where the pitcher is aiming.  

It is also a good practice for catchers to relay the number of the Lokation of a hard hit ball to the coach after the at bat so coaches can make a note of where the hard hit pitch was.  It is so important to recognize whether the pitch was a mistake or whether it was a good pitch in a hitter's hot zone.  Recognition of your own strengths and weakness is the most important scouting report to learn, but to execute that, you must be on the same page with your catcher and coach. 

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Benefits of a Ground Ball

Posted on April 16, 2013 by Stephen Stemle | 0 comments

There are many advantages to getting a ground ball over a fly ball or even a strikeout.  There are very few ground ball extra base hits and no ground ball home runs.  The wind blowing out plays little to no role when a ball is hit on the ground.  It only takes one pitch to get a ground ball out which will lower pitch counts and increase innings pitched.

Multiple ground balls early in counts keep your fielders and umpire in rhythm.  Your defense will be more active and focused, likely resulting in higher fielding percentages behind you.  The umpire will also be more likely to give you borderline calls if you are aggressive in the Go and 4 Zones early in the count.  Often times you have to prove to the umpire you can command the Go Zone before they will give Chase Zone strikes.

It is especially frustrating for the opponent when you can get ground balls early in the count the first time through their lineup.  If you can induce a grounder within the first couple pitches, they are not able to see, time, and track the movement all of your pitches early in the game. The longer the hitter stays alive in the count, the better chance they will have at solid contact.  Don't show your hand (all pitches) if you don't have to. 

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