Michigan Wolverine Baseball: Building a Successful Baseball Program — The Action Stage — Part III

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Posted at 5:30am — 7/5/2012

Michigan Wolverine Baseball: Building a Successful Baseball Program — The Action Stage — Part III

Task 3: the offensive game must be in order and complete.

Now that baseball has taken the sting out of the metal bats of the last few decades, coaches will need to develop a more rounded offensive strategy with more weapons and options. The Earl Weaver three run homer is still the greatest option, but that will be seen less and less unless the bat again changes. Games may become closer and the old-style 3-2 game will be more common. Teams will need to have everyone skilled in small-ball options of bunting, stealing, hitting to move up a runner, and hit and run. Granted the above is classic baseball but somewhat, only somewhat, lost in college and American League play.

Hitting coaches all have individual nuances and techniques. Some of the best hitting instructors use tee work as the most important teaching and practice tool in a program. Some instructors are top down (hit the top half), while others with the big bad bats at hand went to the lift swing to golf the low pitches over the fence. Both methods work, the key will be contact. Hitting instructors that have players with high strikeout ratios will not be in vogue.

Task 4: games are won and lost by coaching decisions; the game must be effectively managed.

In football there are millions of armchair quarterbacks and in baseball pretty much the same applies. The ball is crushed over the fence and the response in the stands is why did he throw a fastball? The ball is crushed and someone asks why did he throw a curveball? In baseball when a round object hits a smaller round object strange things happen, sometimes by pure luck. As Dizzy Dean said many a time- if he has a bat he is dangerous.

Still, there is a science to managing a baseball game. Those who are advocates and practitioners of this genre are said to go by the book. Those who deviate are said to go with the gut feeling. Coaches do both, but the book is the safer vehicle to avoid criticism. But the other guy knows the book as well and there must always be some uncertainty from the opposition about what choice is going to be made. Baseball is a game of choices: fastball, change or breaking pitch, location; hit or take? The beauty is the amount of time is miniscule and the result uncertain.

College coaches are a little more inclined to go away from standard professional baseball game management. The pros simply say the players at that level are too good to run all day on, or bunt against, or run plays such as first and third steals. College coaches will invoke some tricks that the pros do not use, especially against inferior competition.

But there comes a time when the right button must be pushed or a logical choice must be made. This may be a science, but some guys have it. They do not lock up when a big gamble must be made, the situation has been practiced, and the execution is as good as possible. Catchers in major college are very good. The coach/manager knows the time it takes a pitcher to get a pitch to the plate, the time it takes the catcher to get the ball to second, and the time it takes his runner to make first contact with second or third base. Good coaching decisions therefore become informed decisions.

It takes a little time for a new coach to figure out what the other guy is thinking and what course he is most likely to undertake. But solid baseball is solid baseball and many premiere coaches worry most about what his team can do much more than what the other coach might do.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Doc4Blu

Go Blue — Wear Maize!

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