Creating A System For Plate Discipline: Separating The Swing From The Outcome
Not all swings are equal. The minute that contact is made in a baseball game we start to become results oriented. Swings in a baseball game are one of two resources that a hitters has at their disposal during the course of at bat. Hitters final decisions during each pitch boil down to Swing or Take. Counts have a lot to do with this and they change how a player should attack each situation.
Often we can misinterpret a good vs. bad swing decision from the result that happens on the field. Often players will swing at bad pitches and get away with it. For example lets take two swings and look to see how the results may skew how we view them after the fact.
Josh Naylor swung at this pitch in 2019. Fastball well of the plate. I don’t think that anyone would point to this swing and say that this is what we are looking.
He swung at a pitch that was less than ideal, but the result was good.
Lets take one more:
Same situation with Tellez. Down in the zone, less than ideal. Good result. So I ask, are these good swing? Lets say you could create a situation where both players swing at these pitches 100 times over the course of a season. How often would you suspect that he repeat this result?
Is the result that we see after the fact effecting how you view this outcome?
Taken another way:
Which of these two swings would you prefer?
Most would take the swing on the left.
There are going to be thousands of these during the season. The goal is not to eliminate bad swing decisions. But to paint a picture of what we should be focused on if we are process oriented.
Players are training to improve their swing decisions. Often we begin Resulting in the case of swing decisions. It doesn’t feel good to have a bad result but have a good process. Realizing that bad swings can lead to good results and vise versa is important. Ultimately we are looking for players to swing at pitches that can normally be driven.
Getting over this bad feeling during the process situation should be our priority. Differentiating between the swing and the batted ball is a way to keep us honest as coaches.
Creating processes to ensure that we are aiming for the results that we want is just plan bad feelings in certain situations. No one wants to tell the batter that he made 3 good swing decisions after striking out. Creating a culture were you value and reward the things you process should be a priority.
Just as we often hear coaches say ‘You hit the ball hard, that’s all that counts.’ we should continue to fight to get into an area where coaches are saying ‘You swung at great pitch to drive’. The result of a swing will skew how we view the actual swing in almost all situations. If we can create a way to separate the swing from the outcome our hitters might be better off.