Situational hitting is a crucial aspect of baseball that often goes unnoticed. It refers to the ability of a hitter to handle the bat and execute specific strategies in order to move runners along or drive them in. A team that excels in situational hitting is usually more successful in close games where every run counts. In this blog post, we will discuss the key points of some common situational hitting strategies.
Hit & Run
The hit and run is a tactic designed to create movement in the defense and open up holes on the infield. It is also an effective way to avoid a double play or advance a runner. The key to this strategy is for the runner on first to start running when the pitch is delivered, while the hitter swings at anything except a ball in the dirt. The hitter should mentally prepare to "read" the pitch early and hit the ball where it is pitched. For example, pull the inside pitch or go the other way on the outside pitch. The goal is to hit the ball on the ground and avoid hitting it to the middle of the field, as this makes it easier for the defense to turn a double play. Even if the hitter makes an out, as long as the runner advances, the hit and run is considered a success.
Runner on 2nd, 0 Out - Advance the Runner
When there is a runner on second with no outs, the goal is to advance the runner to third with one out, allowing the next batter to drive him in with a productive out. The key to achieving this is for the hitter to get a pitch to hit on the ground back up the middle, to the shortstop's left or to the right side of the field. The hitter must handle the bat head well, staying on top of the ball, and hit it hard enough to get it past the infield. Bunting is always an option in this situation, and the hitter should not hesitate to do so if necessary. The priority is to move the runner, any way possible.
Runner on 3rd - Drive the Runner In
With a runner on third, the goal is to score a run with, at worst, a productive out. The hitter should know where the infield is playing and adjust their approach accordingly. If the infield is playing back, the hitter should aim to hit a ground ball to the shortstop or second baseman, which will result in a guaranteed run. If the infield is playing in, the hitter must look to drive the ball hard through the drawn-in infield. The key to success in this situation is to hit the ball in line with where the infield is playing, using the middle of the field and staying on top of the ball.
In conclusion, situational hitting is a team-first approach that requires a combination of mental and physical skills. By practicing these strategies, teams can become more productive and successful in moving runners along and scoring runs. Remember, in baseball, every run counts, and situational hitting can make all the difference.