Unlike what it was like when we hit in little league, you can't just see the ball and hit the ball. The fastballs are coming too fast and breaking stuff breaks too much to do that. It's all about guessing the pitch and location that matters. There are exceptions to this, Vlad Guerrero or Pujols can hit almost anything sometimes. Tony Gwynn or Piazza in his prime could hit just about anything, but for most Major league hitters, when they get a hit, it's either because they guessed the pitch and or location correctly or just got lucky and stuck the bat out there on a pitch they guessed wrong on, but it's extremely rare that a hitter can solidly hit a pitch that's way different than what they were looking for.
Watching on TV or way up in the bleachers, it's sort of hard to appreciate this, but I've had the good fortune of having primo seats on occassion, and it's hard to believe anybody hits even the average major league pitcher. Up close you also get a greater appreciation of how change of speed is so effective for pitchers. It seems sort of counter intuitive in that that a slower pitch ought to be easier to hit, but because it's so difficult to hit fast pitches, hitters have to time their swing even before the pitcher releases the ball, so even a 5 mph drop can make them miss badly.
This is why, watching on TV, some pitchers can look at first glance very hittable (ala Greg Maddux) but really aren't, while pitchers who have a blazing fastball can be hittable if they don't have good control or a 2nd pitch.
giants8307 wrote:It's tough to believe every major league hitter is a guess hitter.
IMO, they aren't. Pitch recognition is still a huge part of the game. I think the point, though, is that you might be "looking" fastball, then if you're a good hitter you'll pick up the spin on a curve and not swing because you were looking fastball. Or vice-versa. Meanwhile a poor hitter might not pick up that spin and swing early and over top of what he expected to be a fastball. But at the same time, making an educated "guess" as to what the pitcher is going to throw in certain situations can play a big role as well.
Pitch recognition is still a big part, and as the original poster mentioned, the best hitters in the league can adjust to whatever the pitcher is throwing as it is coming towards them. Hell, Vlad's home run last night showed that the VERY best hitters don't even have to recognize it... they can just smoke anything!
I remember reading about how Beltran uses that machine that fires tennis balls with different numbers and colors at 120 MPH. Then Beltran would call out the number/color as it came towards him to help improve his pitch recognition. I'm sure he's not the only one doing it. Also, Brian Roberts attributed a lot of his success in '05 to the special-made contacts he wore because they helped him to see the spin on the ball more clearly.
Is there anything fluffier than a cloud? If there is, I don't want to know about it.
Well, I do not think every MLB hitter is a guess hitter. I think a lot of them are. And some of them are intelligent enough to guess what the pitcher is trying to do and look or certain pitches in certain situations to give them an edge.
But a lot of them simply have the hand-eye coordination to react that fast. Boggs would claim he could see the stitches on the ball. I believe him. These guys are the best of the best. If you ever faced even an 85 mph fastball, most people can not even get close to hitting it. Go to a batting cage and give it a shot one day if you do not believe me. 80's is nearly impossible for a mere mortal like myself. Ratchet it up to 90s+ and it is just see the ball go by, swing a second after it hits the catcher's glove/the back of the cage.
Really? I thought they were quite rare with only people like Vlad and Ichiro pulling them off very rarely (many hitters swing at balls in the dirt though). Anyways, that was only a sidebar and my point was that Ichiro has superhuman hand-eye coordination like those other players mentioned earlier. Anyways, it's just a sidebar..