Timing Part III: A Hitter's Response

Timing Part III: A Hitter’s Response

This is the final post is a series of posts about timing and adjustments between pitchers and hitters. If you’ve missed either of the first two, you can get caught up here.

We started off discussing how a hitter gets in rhythm with the pitcher and makes adjustments to be on time. Then we looked at pitchers who are altering their deliveries to make it even more challenging for hitters to be on time. And now, we’re looking at one of the ways hitters can respond.

To do that, we’re going to take a look at an at bat between Darren O’Day and Mike Trout. O’Day is a submarine style pitcher who uses a lot of deception and Mike Trout is well…Mike Trout.

The first two pitches of the at bat seem completely normal. O’Day gets set by closing up his stance, lifting his front foot a second time and then throws each pitch. Trout has his normal leg lift.

But on the third pitch, O’Day skips his second lift of his front foot and quick pitches. It probably wasn’t an accident that he did it on an 0-2 count. Trout responds by shrinking his leg lift and takes the pitch for ball one.  Check out the video below on the left.

Now you might be thinking that Trout shrunk his leg lift to a more conservative two strike approach. And while the thought crossed my mind, I think it was more that he was just reacting to the quicker delivery by limiting his stride to catch back up from a timing perspective. The next pitch with a 1-2 count helped clarify things as O’Day went back to his normal second lift with his front foot and Trout went back to his normal leg lift as seen in the video on the right.

But here’s the interesting part. On the 5th pitch of the at bat, O’Day’s timing seemed very normal but Trout stayed with his lower leg lift. And then on the 6th and final pitch of the at bat, O’Day had his normal routine again but Trout toe tapped and hit a homer to right field.

The question is, what made Trout alter his stride on the last two pitches? I’m not sure we can answer that but we should take away from this is that the best hitters in the world have an uncanny ability to be an athlete in the box and make adjustments to whatever pitchers are trying to do to alter their timing. We’ve seen the same thing from the pitchers in previous posts who are altering their timing and mechanics to get hitters out.

Sometimes the pitchers win and sometimes the hitters win but the point is that players and coaches have to realize that consistency of mechanics is a great goal but adjustability and ability to deal with more variables within mechanics is often what puts players on another level.