Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Staying Inside the Ball

Professional hitters talk a lot about "staying inside the ball." This means that by tucking their back elbow and pulling their hands through the hitting zone, the barrel takes a direct path to the ball and the hips rotate quickly. The batter generally makes more solid contact and is able to hit to all fields. He avoids rolling his wrists too early and casting the barrel around the upper outside part of the ball, which results in pulled ground balls.

The benefits of staying inside the ball came to mind when watching a couple of at-bats from the past two ALCS games. Both batters faced faced pitchers trying to bust them inside with fastballs.

As you can see in this Game 2 video from, Ryan Raburn stays inside the ball, tucking his back elbow, taking the knob of the bat through first and clearing his hips quickly. The result is not only a fair ball, but a 3-run homer that was nearly enough for a slumping Tigers offense.

Last night in Game 3, Tigers pitcher Doug Fister went inside all night. As good of a hitter that Adrian Beltre is, he likes to get his hands extended. He got the barrel around those inside fastballs and literally got beat up with foul balls off his legs all night long. Two inches more toward the center of the plate, and those balls may have been parked in the seats. But instead, it was a rough night for Beltre and a sore knee for today's Game 4.

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