Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Rise in MLB Batting Stats
Hi again J.M.
I recently borrowed a copy of one of your tapes and think it is excellent for instructing hitting mechanics, particularly to youngsters. However, I would like to have seen some discussion of hitting strategy as related to those mechanics. Have you ever thought about doing this?
You have pointed out that one of the boards you have recently seen stated that in Ted Williams time that pitchers were expected to pitch 9 innings. This was true in Ruth's time but certainly not true in the 50's. The 50's and 60's blazed the trail for future relief pitching. In fact, relief pitcher Jim Konstanty won the national leagues most valuable player award in 1950. As for the implication that relief pitching would have seriously affected Williams' hitting it certainly didn't in the 50's, a decade in which he outhit Aaron, who later went on to hit 47 homeruns and bat 327 in 1971, over 20 years after serious relief pitching found its way into baseball.
You raised the question of how would Williams hit today? To answer that question we have to consider that Williams lived and developed his skills in a different time period. He learned his trade through imitation. He thought of himself as a born hitter. There were no little league instructors around to screw up his hitting development. The most valuable instruction he ever got was from Rogers Hornsby: "Get a good pitch to hit." Unlike Bonds Williams was always a good hitter, who had a curious mind that was able to think hitting problems through. Daddy wasn't around to try to teach him how to get over the rough spots.
Assuming in his playing days Williams could have gotten into a time machine to transport to the present time I believe he would have quickly adapted to the times. Instead of doing so much fishing in the off season he would have been compelled to practice as hard as the players do today. Instead of drinking milk shakes to gain weight he would have hit the weights and perhaps hired a personal trainer. On the field he would have studied pitchers studiously as he had always done. He would set out to prove that pitchers of today are as dumb as they were in his time. With today's tight strike zone he would get a ton of walks. With the smaller parks he would hit more homeruns, but would still place getting a good pitch to hit above any homerun goal he might have. He would distain taking performance enhancing drugs (but would never squeal on a fellow player), and also distain the use of present light break away bats.
He would have trouble with pitchers just as he did in his time. I suspect that among these pitchers would be splitfinger pitchers who on occasion can get the ball to drop sharply in that 10-12 foot area in front of the plate where hitters lose sight. He would enjoy facing fastball pitchers to prove that, "God could come down from heaven and he couldn't throw a fastball by me."
Like all good hitters he would feast off of the poorer pitchers, and not ever be concerned that the best of hitters fail most of the time to get a hit. Eventually he would prove to himself that a large number of pitchers with an assortment of pitches (usually three)have dumb pitching strategies. He would also look for tipoffs and opportunities to exploit the pitcher's weakest pitch. Williams believed that 50 percent of hitting was above the neck, and would have been out to prove that no era diminishes that percentage.
To make certain that the long strength draining season did not diminish his hitting Williams at some point would have reduced the weight of his bat. This is something that steroid users never have to worry about. As one weight lifting old time baseball player, who had been a homerun hitter in the minors put it,"There are no dog days of summer when you're on steroids! As long as you stay on' em,you stay strong, you have an abundance of energy every day. You feel the same in Sept. as you did in April. Barry Bonds hasn't had dog days in four years." (This was written in 2005.) This is how Bonds hit 73 homeruns and McGwire 70.
Rather than ask the question how would Williams do today against today's pitching a more meaningful question is how would Bond's, a player whose career batting average is under 300, how would he have done without the performance enhancing substances. Would he still be called by some contemporary major leaguers as the greatest hitter of all time, presumably because of his homerun production?
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