Have you ever been to a lower level baseball game, like a high school or even little league game? If you have, I can guarantee that you’ve heard someone at some point yell at the batter, “make him pitch to you!” I can also promise that you’ve probably seen the kid swinging at the air, chasing pitches, because he was too impatient to wait for a good pitch. What is the result? Most likely the batter strikes out and goes back to the bench.
Patience at the plate is key, yet it is one of the most challenging things for young players to remember.
Why is patience so important?
- If the batter waits for a quality pitch, the pitcher’s pitch count will go up. This results in the pitcher getting tired faster, thus causing more bad pitches creating more batters to walk.
- Waiting for a good pitch allows the batter to see more pitches. Seeing more pitches makes it easier to find the right pitch for the batter to knock it out of the park. Also, waiting makes the batter more familiar with the pitcher.
- Pitchers tend to get frustrated when batters aren’t swinging. Frustrated pitchers end up making mistakes.
- Batters can’t score if they strike out. Working up the pitch count can end up in a walk more often than not. A walk puts the batter on base where he’ll be able to score.
- Patience at the plate is extremely important for speedier players. If they can get to first base on a walk, they’re an even bigger threat to steal.
The takeaway: If the batter tires out the pitcher, they’re more likely to score.
Usually, younger players are not collectively known for being patient at the plate. However, on Monday’s Opening Day game against the Yankees, the Red Sox saw 22 year old rookie Jackie Bradley, Jr. staying very calm and keeping his patience at the plate. As a result, he had 3 of the 8 Red Sox walks in the game. Pitchers are going to hate this kid. He’s a young player with patience and a lot of speed. He’s going to be stealing left and right, but only if he stays patient and gets on base. Lucky for Red Sox fans, he can hit, too. So as long as he stays patient on base as well as at the plate, he’ll be golden.
Bradley Jr.’s walks were part of the plate-patience effort of the Red Sox that led Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia to tire out early. Thanks to team patience, we’re able to celebrate an Opening Day 8-2 victory for the Sox.
Let’s just hope that his plate patience rubs off on the rest of the team!