In baseball, hitting and scoring are not one in the same. Just because a team can hit well doesn’t mean that they’ll score a lot of runs. It takes a determined and analytical approach at the plate to drive in baserunners, which is why effective situational hitting is a valued asset to any hitter’s skill set.
Knowing your game plan before you step into the batter’s box could improve your chances of scoring that runner from second or extending the inning to keep your team in the game. Former MVP Mike Trout has an inside look on his approach to situational hitting and how he’s cashed in when it’s counted most on the diamond.
“When the guy is on second base, when I’m ahead in a count or it’s the first pitch, I’m looking for a pitch to drive gap-to-gap,” Trout says.
You want a pitch that you are certain you can hit well that will get past defenders or advance the runner. “Not just right-center, left-center,” Trout says. “Get a good pitch that you can hit hard.”
BONUS PRO TIP: Be sure to read where your baserunner is and how a batted ball can give them an advantage when running. For instance, if you’re trying to move a runner from second base, try hitting to right-center field. If you’re trying to score a runner from third, try hitting it deep into the outfield or up the middle to force a longer throw.
BATTING WITH TWO STRIKES
Of course, advancing a runner isn’t always the end goal of your at-bat. When batting with two strikes against you, you have to attack each swing in order to either reach base or keep your at-bat alive.
Physically, your two-strike swing is going to be different than your normal swing, according to Trout.
“When I get two strikes, I like to get some quicker bat speed [and get] shorter to the ball,” he says.
Having a shortened approach can help you put a controlled, quick swing on the ball and help increase your chances of either putting it in play or fouling it off to extend the at-bat.
Help your team make the most of your at-bats this season by taking an educated approach to situational hitting. Take this insight from Mike Trout and give your swing an edge when it counts the most.
Looking for more baseball tips from the pro outfielder? Check out Mike Trout’s base stealing tips, too.