I am watching the Oakland A's play the Chicago White Sox in a Spring Training game. One of the camera crew members backed the TV truck over the centerfield camera wires and they haven't gotten it fixed yet, so they are showing the game from the camera angle from behind home plate. The game has an old school feel and it makes me imagine what it would have been like to watch a game on film from the mid 1930s to the late 1950s.
The behind the plate angle pulls my eye toward the hitter more than the center field camera does. It makes me pay more attention to the hitter's reaction because pitch Lokation cannot be seen as easily from behind the plate. Watching the hitter can tell a story on how well they are seeing the ball and whether their timing is good or not.
The A's pitcher Jarrod Parker has thrown four perfect innings with five strikeouts up to this point in the game and he is commanding extremely effective off speed pitches in the Go Zone and 4 Zone. From this angle I can see hitter's weight shift forward early on the off speed pitches and how his off speed command is making the hitter's swing late on fastballs.
The worse a hitter's timing is, the less precise Lokation needs to be. The better a hitter's timing is, the more precise pitch Lokation must be. Tonight Parker has disrupted timing and had precise Lokation, a great combination that often ends up in a victory for the team.
We cannot forget to pay attention to hitter's body language and reactions as coaches, catchers, and pitchers. A check swing on a pitch that isn't even close probably means the hitter isn't seeing the ball well and they're timing isn't the best. When a hitter can take a very close pitch without flinching (quiet take) then it generally means they are seeing the ball well and their timing is better.
The camera angle behind the plate can also paint a bigger picture of what is happening from pitch to pitch. It shows base runners getting leads and the jump they get when attempting to steal a base. It gives viewers a chance to see middle infielders working to hold runners on second or the timing involved in bunt plays. Fans are also able to see the pitcher changing his hold times in the stretch so runners cannot time the delivery and get a good jump.
Generally as pitchers we want to gravitate towards our strengths more than the hitter's weaknesses, but don't ignore what the hitter is telling you about their mindset with body language during the at bat. Body language is the most frequently used and strongest form of communication there is. Always remember to look for reactions from the hitter and use it your advantage if it fits in your skill set.
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