The Baseball Zone Blog

Kevin Hussey | Feb 26, 2015 6:00:00 AM

4 Basic Approaches to Building a Batting Lineup

One of the more frequent requests we get for blog ideas is how to go about building a batting lineup. This is an interesting request as while there are many standard philosophies to building a lineup, there have also been a number of computer-generated simulations that have produced the same conclusion - that the make up of lineups has little to no effect on wins over the course of a season. 

So having preambled with that, let's say that it does matter and matter a lot. So now what? When building your lineup, there are many different approaches to what is the best method. Every team is made up of different players and different situations which mean there are no right answers, there are only different perspectives. Here are 4 approaches you can take when filling out your own batting lineup:

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Topics: baseball coaching, batting order, coaching, batting lineup

Rick Johnston | Feb 22, 2015 3:00:52 PM

6 Key Factors Affecting Your Baseball Team Defense

Some baseball team defenses will be fairly standard and universally accepted in how they are deployed. Yes, there could be slight variations or deviations to each defense based on abilities or lack of abilities of defensive players. For example, if one player is more fleet a foot than another, or one has better arm strength or one player lacks lateral movement, then having a contingent plan in the deployment is always acceptable.

However, when deploying a particular defense, such as an aggressive bunt defence or a particular first and third play, an array of variables must be considered before entertaining the defensive scheme for your team. Situations always vary from game to game and indeed, from inning to inning, hitter to hitter and frankly pitch to pitch or count to count. Consider this then, there are numerous ways a defensive situation can change, but largely it will be based on the following influencing factors.

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Topics: baseball strategy, bunt defense, defensive baseball, baseball team defense, team defense, Defense

Ryan Armstrong | Feb 20, 2015 10:05:21 AM

How Pitchers Can Vary Their Looks On the Mound

In the second part of this series on Controlling the Running Game, we talk about varying looks. Varying looks can be thought of as varying your timing to the plate with runners on base, not necessarily how many times you look at a runner, although that can be considered an element as well.

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Topics: pitching, pitching tips, pitching instruction, pitching skills, pitching advice, holding runners, Defense, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game, varying looks

Kevin Hussey | Feb 17, 2015 1:22:00 PM

4 Simple Tips for Young Catchers to Follow

So you made the decision to become a catcher. The catcher position in baseball is a physically and mentally demanding position. A great way to try and deal with the different demands as a catcher is to learn some different aspects of the game and try and learn from other catchers' experiences. A lot of times there are no right or wrong answers but here are some tips that may be able to help you in the future as a catcher. Here are 4 simple yet essential tips for young catchers as they start out in the game.

1 - Heels on the Ground 

One common misconception for catchers is they’re supposed to be on their toes while in their catcher’s stance (doing so while giving your signs is ok). If this is something that you do, try catching with your heels on the ground. It may be uncomfortable at first, but once your body is used to this technique, it can make being in your stance a whole lot easier and keep you more stable, balanced and athletic to react to the outcome of the pitch.

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Topics: baseball skills, catching, catching skills, catching fundamentals, pitch selection, receiving skills, catching tips, pitch location

Ryan Armstrong | Feb 12, 2015 6:00:00 AM

The Jump Pivot Pickoff Move to First Base

As players get older and play at higher and higher levels of baseball, keeping runners out of scoring position is even more crucial than at younger ages. This is true because as players get older they typically make less errors and pitchers throw more strikes, thus reducing the number of runs scored. Scoring is at a premium and thus preventing extra bases is as well. One way pitchers can help themselves and their time is by developing an effective pickoff move to first.

Right handed pitchers here in the Greater Toronto Area - and likely just about anywhere they play baseball - typically come equipped with the basic step off the rubber method. This is where the pitcher disengages the rubber with their back foot and throws to first. This is a great move to learn as one's first move as it is relatively safe and simple and every once in a while just might catch a sleepy baserunner off guard. The problem however is at higher levels this move is just not that effective anymore. As the back foot comes off the rubber it provides baserunners with too much time to recognize the pick off. In some cases  pitchers might even step off and not throw as the runner is already back to the bag. This completely defeats the purpose of the pick off, which is to hold the runner close, decreasing their jump and chances of reaching scoring position.

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Topics: pitching instruction, pitching advice, Defense, pickoffs, pick off moves, pitcher's defense, controlling the running game

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