josh willingham

Maximizing Each At Bat

To make the most of each in game at bat you must be prepared first. As you prepare to step into the batters box watch the pitcher and imagine that he is delivery and pitching to you. Your repetitions and all your preparation have prepared you for your swing in the box. Think positive that the pitcher is going to give you the perfect pitch designed to give you the most optimal contact point. Essentially by thinking that the pitcher is throwing you home run derby pitches rather than trying to strike you out will enable you to control what you do with each pitch in the at bat. Think as if you are in control of what you do with each pitch and it is up to you whether or not to swing. The worst that can happen is failure and you get another opportunity the very next pitch.

Slow the game down, take a deep breath and step into the batters box.

Focus on the pitcher’s throwing should and imagine it being a pitching machine ready to deliver you the perfect most hittable pitch.

As the pitcher goes into his motion. RELAX. Relax and keep your body loose and ready to rotate as a more relaxed body will all for faster speed of swing.

Minimize movement and rotate your hips and back knee toward the pitcher and focus on extending your hands to not only meet the ball but explode through the ball trying to saw the baseball in half with your bat at contact.

As you explode through the bat on contact finish your swing as balanced as possible and keeping your front hip in as you rotate through the pitch extending your hands.

Wherever the ball is hit at contact is irrelevant. You did what you can do and now its time to sprint as hard as you can to first base at maximal effort to avoid getting out.

Success….you slowed the game down. Controlled the situation and maximized the at bat. Learn from the Experience and dominate the next at bat.

 

pujols swinging

In the Spotlight: Atlanta Braves Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones @realCJ10

chipper jones1

Chipper Jones. Personally the first thought that comes to mind is how much I despised Chipper throughout his long career. As a native Houstonian, Chipper Jones and Andrew Jones gave the Astros fits over the 90′s and in the playoffs year in and year out. I hated watching Astros games late in the season or in the playoffs when we knew we would be playing the best. Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones is one of the greatest power switch hitters that has ever played the game of baseball. As a natural right-handed hitter Chipper spent 4 years training himself with drills and extra swings to train himself to hit just as good left handed as he did right. As a result he would hit .300 from both sides of the plate throughout his career. Chipper not only hit for average but hit with power from both sides of the plate and in a stacked lineup that included Fred McGriff, and Andrew Jones. With the offense the Braves were bringing to their lineup every day its no wonder they reached the playoffs so often. On top of having one of the most dominant and consisting starting pitchers as well in Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and John Smoltz all potential future Hall of Famers. My opinion is that Chipper will end up in the Hall of Fame one day when his time is due. Chipper had a great glove as well playing third base and even throwing out Houston Astros great in Biggio’s final career at bat which happened to be a ground ball to third base. The 2012 season Chipper Jones  spent each road trip as a farewell tour saying goodbye to all the stadiums that had he had been despised at by opposing teams for so many years. Do to the immense respect Chipper acccumlated over his career and despite him playing for the opposite team just about every city he visited he was presented with a unique gift by that team and given a standing ovations after standing ovation each at bat he had in that series.. His greatness and the standing ovations given by fans of opposing cities symbolize where he ranked in popularity and talent not only in the era he played in but how he ranks all time as a great player. I’m glad Chipper is finally hanging up his glove and cleats and it was a pleasure watching him for so many years.  Chipper Jones…one of the greats…What is your favorite Chipper Jones memory?

Chipper Jones…thank you!

chipperjones

Pitching 101: Curve balls hurt your arm and this is why!

Byung-Hyun Kim

Throwing side arm as you can see in the picture above causes excess stress on the arm. The reason not to throw sidearm is to avoid arm pain and forced inflammation of the tendons by them rubbing on the elbow ligament joint. As you can see Byung-Hyun Kim has an inverted W which is the first sign that the pitcher must over compensate to release the ball out in front of his body once his arm catches up to his body after hip rotation, further putting stress on the elbow if the front hip and shoulder is not aligned toward the catcher. If for instance the pitcher has a closed front hip or has his lead foot pointed inside to a right handed hitter he must also throw across his body to reach a target on the outside of the plate. Byung-Hyun Kim didn’t last long after his implosion giving up world series home runs in back to back games against the Yankees before having arm issues and further being released.

Zack Greinke Dodgers RHP Pitching Analysis (W/ Pictures)

Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke Pitching

Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke Pitching

Zach Greinke is one of the  most dominant young pitchers in the game today. As you can see in pictures he has all the elements of the perfect balanced delivery. Greinke maintains focus and momentum throughout his delivery. His long stride and triple extension enables him to increase his velocity as if he is throwing down hill, and he maintains full momentum even upon follow through.

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Baseball Drills for Pitching

The best drills for pitching are those with the aim of repetitive movements to improve balance and control when in a game situation. Drills can be to improve balance while also improving mechanics of the arm and throwing motion while also increasing velocity. Pitching involves a combination of mental and physical attributes that combine the tall and fall approach with and aggressive lunge like aggression toward the hitter and added hip rotation to torque the body in the direction of home plate.

The most popular drills for pitching include the “Rocker Drill”, long toss, the towel drill, and the balanced T drill and the airplane drill.

Drills should be done repetitively to create muscle memory and further improve overall balance of the body when performing a pitching motion. If your youth pitcher is suffering from poor control this could be attributed to no releasing the ball far enough out front towards the hitter and “finishing” each pitch off completely.

If you find that your youth pitcher is experiencing arm or elbow issues this could be due to not fully rotating the hips toward the hitter after front foot strike thus causing the pitcher to throw up hill while leading the arm away from the direction of home plate. Another cause of arm issues is over rotation of the hips causing the throwing arm to throw across the youth pitchers body. This is normally cause from opening the shoulders to the hitter prematurely and not keeping the front elbow and shoulder perpendicular to the direction intended to be targeted.

rocker drill baseball

Having your youth pitcher perform throws from the balanced T position as shown above forces the pitcher to rotate the back hip toward the hitter thus causing the back foot to step over the imaginary plane and release the ball closer to the hitter. The aim for this drill is to incorporate as much of the body as possible into the throwing motion. The further the pitcher releases the ball towards the hitter the less reaction time the hitter has to make contact on the ball. The balanced T drill is a great tool for starting in an athletic balanced position.

Opportunity At Bat-One chance!

brian esposito

Was just reflecting back on the opportunity that Adam Greenburg was given a few months ago to have a chance at another major league at bat since he was hit in the head in his only other opportunity. What a chance of a lifetime, to be a on a big league field with the upper 2% of Major Leaguers and be able to face the best of the best. And to take that to an even more extreme he had to face what would be the NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey on top of that. I guess it could be worse, facing Randy Johnson perhaps or Craig Kimbrel, but then again it’s still an opportunity of a lifetime. I was reviewing baseballreferance.com and looked up a former catcher who played with the Astros, Brian Esposito, I remembered one weekend when the main catcher Humberto Quintero was injured and Jason Castro was having knee issues they called up Esposito to help out with catching duties and during that weekend he didn’t get a big league hit. I don’t even remember if he got into either game. I know he probably collected the major league minimum day rate for those two days and was sent back by Monday to AAA Oklahoma to finish out the season. Since, he has been picked up and released by several teams and currently is unsigned pending further notification. I remember way back around 2004 the Astros had Fanfest and I got the opportunity to talk to Jeff Bagwell and wish him luck on the upcoming season and he replied back, I hope I do good and he’s thankful he has the opportunity. I know as time goes on every year there is some stud player in each organization that is one call up from taking a struggling veteran’s position and roster spot. In most recent years big time hitters Richie Sexson, Derrick Lee, Todd Helton all come to mind as dominant major leaguers in their time that were shooed out over time or dealt to other teams in favor of clearing revenue and opening roster spots for rebuilding. The moral of this article though is is if you have an opportunity, make the best of it. You never know if that is the only opportunity you will have and secondly if it may never be possible for another opportunity ever. So even if it is an opportunity against the greatest ever, get that hit and go out on top.Just remember Marcus Thames hit a home run off Randy Johnson in his first major league at bat, if he was never allowed to hit or sent down and never called back up to the big leagues, at least he prevailed against the best.

Greatest Roving Instructor Ever; Roger Clemens Retweet! Share! @bullpennation

 

RogerClemens

Maybe you’ve been hibernating or stuck under a rock for the last 20 years, but if you haven’t you know that Roger Clemens has been playing baseball in the Major Leagues striking out hoards of hitters. Clemens equally throughout his career has helped in any capacity possible to pass down the knowledge and share with youth and minor league players information to help them prolong their major league careers. Every team Roger Clemens has been with he has been able to leave his imprint on someone. Roger Clemens has been invited by Jeff Luhnow and the Houston Astros to help coach pitchers in Spring Training in Kissimmee this year and my only thought is, why hasn’t he been doing this every year. The smartest thing the Astros could do would be to have Roger join the Astros coaching staff as a roving pitching instructor and let him do what he does naturally: make others around him better. Houston has lost a record number of games the last 2 seasons and this no doubt has a lot to do with the youth pitching and abundance of rookie pitchers within the organization. My view is for the Astros to expedite the process of winning to sooner rather than later, why not get one of the best pitchers in baseball over the course of 2 decades and let your players pick his brain to the fullest. Growing up I was always told that the only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked, or I would hear there is no stupid question as long as you get the information to your question so now I must ask…why hasn’t this been done sooner. Houston has embarrassed the city with the Astros being the laughing stalk of the Major leagues and greatly needs an upturn from being cellar dwellers. Roger Clemens has a personal services contract with the Astros and other than being “suspected” of performance enhancing drugs, he has done nothing but support the city that he grew up in. Roger Clemens is a great Houstonian and helped bring the Astros to the first and only World Series in the franchises history. I say leave him alone and let him do what he does best. Pitching.

Bullpen Domination=Power Hitting Success

 

swinging a bat

Power hitting isn’t just about the strength of the hitter but more so the successful hand eye coordination combining at the precise moment with the bat and ball at a point of contact equal to catapult the baseball a particular distance. There are several factors that come into play which would contribute to the success of hitting a home run such as wind, fence distance, and whomever the particular outfielder is who is willing to miss the ball and let it bounce off his head and land over the fence (Canseco ;) .

Jose Canseco #33

Success in hitting for power though is more determined by bat speed which can only be improved through high numbers of repetitions of swinging a bat the right way. The particular path of the bat has the highest likelihood of contact the quicker the bat is drawn into the hitting zone and once there, the length of time the swing remains on a level path through contact of the ball and beyond. An analysis of the duties of each arm would be of the front arm of the hitter pulling the bat straight down into the strike zone, and secondly with the duties of the back arm to be punching the bat through the strike zone all while leading with the hips the knob of the ball straight toward the path of the ball. The only way to ensure proper hand eye coordination is to make sure that as the hips rotate that front foot strike has happened and been maintained and that the head and eye position has not changed. Please subscribe to this blog for more information and instruction on power hitting success and tips for success.

swingingabat2

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