During the course of a 162-game season I talk to a lot of people and take a lot of notes. Not all the notes get used; some find their way into stories, some just get tucked away to be used in the future and are often forgotten. The other day I was going through those unused notes and found a bunch of interesting tidbits that never saw the light of day. I know many of you are just killing time until Santa arrives, so here’s a list of interesting baseball info to help while away your day.
Random, but interesting, things about baseball
▪ If a pitcher does not have a history of doubling up on pickoff throws (two in a row) take a big lead, draw a throw and then steal on the next pitch.
▪ Foul balls with two strikes can indicate a lack of swing-and-miss stuff; the pitcher can get the batters to two strikes, but then can’t finish them off.
▪ Royals third-base coach Mike Jirschele will walk around the outfield every once in a while just to remind himself how far it is to home plate and what a great throw it takes to nail a runner trying to score.
▪ For the most part, the cutter is considered a weak contact pitch; the slider is considered a swing-and-miss pitch.
▪ With the game on the line and behind in the count, walk the big-money guys; put your ego aside and make someone else beat you.
▪ A pitcher should not let a hitter know what he’s thinking; if he hits a batter accidentally he shouldn’t pat his chest to say “my bad.” Make the hitter think you might have drilled him intentionally and that you just might do it again.
▪ Opposition teams are definitely trying to get into Yordano Ventura’s head by stepping out and jawing with him; anything to make him lose focus.
▪ In the big leagues, the runner decides when he’s going first-to-third; he might need a coach’s help on a ball to right field — it’s behind him — but if the play’s in front of him, the runner makes the decision.
▪ Even in a blowout there’s something to play for; if you come close enough to make the other team use their closer, maybe he won’t be available the next night.
▪ If it’s 0-2, 1-2 and 2-2, those are curveball counts and good counts to run on. That’s why pitchers often try pickoffs in those counts.
▪ Don’t worry about anyone’s batting average until they have 100 at-bats.
▪ It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row; teams change starting pitchers every night and catching three different pitchers having a down night is not the norm.
▪ At this level, “see-it-and-hit” will only take you so far. The best pitchers are throwing so hard you have to study the scouting reports and have some idea of what’s coming next.
▪ If a pitcher throws a fastball in a 1-1 count, nine out of 10 times, guess fastball. But if it’s that 10th time and he throws a slider instead, you’re going to look silly.
▪ Good hitters lock in on a certain pitch, look for it and won’t come off it. You can make a guy look bad until he gets the pitch he was looking for and then he probably won’t miss it.
▪ According to hitting coach Dale Sveum, hitters should not give pitchers too much credit; wait for a mistake and if the pitcher makes a great pitch, take it. Don’t start chasing great pitches; stick to the plan and keep waiting for that mistake.
▪ The Royals are not a great off-speed hitting club, so opposition pitchers want to spin it up there.
▪ According to catcher Kurt Suzuki, opposition pitchers should not try to strike out the Royals. Kansas City hitters make contact and a pitcher that’s going for punchouts might throw 100 pitches in five innings.
▪ If you pitch down in the zone you can use the whole plate; any pitch at the knees is a pretty good pitch (a possible exception is down-and-in to lefties). If you pitch up in the zone you have to hit corners.
▪ If you pitch up, you have to be above the swing path.
▪ Numbers without context might be meaningless; or worse — misleading
▪ All walks are not equal: a walk at the beginning of an inning is worth more than a walk with two outs, a walk to Jarrod Dyson is worth more than a walk to Billy Butler.
▪ So when you look at a pitcher’s walks, ask yourself who he walked and when he walked them.
▪ When a pitcher falls behind 2-0 or 3-1, what pitch does he throw to get back in the count? Can he throw a 2-0 cutter, sinker or slider, or does he have to throw a fastball down the middle and hope for the best?
▪ Hitters who waggle the bat head have inconsistent swing paths.
▪ The more violent the swing, the worse the pitch recognition. So if a guy really cuts it loose when he swings and allows his head to move, throw breaking stuff and change-ups. If he keeps his head still, be careful.
OK, that’s it. Now that I’ve finished, I realize some of this stuff actually did make its way into larger articles, but what the heck — maybe you missed it the first time and it’s the Friday before Christmas and just like everyone else, I’d like to go home early.
Happy Holidays, everyone.