According to contemporary Baseball thinking, the “good hitter” is a batter who waits patiently for a pitcher to make a mistake (puts the ball where he does not want to—where he knows the batter is most capable of hitting it), and capitalizes on it, and effectively hits the ball with authority at least 2.72 times out of 10 at-bats. To me, there are many ways to be a “good” hitter, but only one way to be a “Great” hitter. The good hitter will wait and hopefully hit the pitcher’s mistake. The “great” hitter will be able to hit the pitcher’s best pitch.
Since the standard for being a good hitter is so low, then it might be well to presume that the standard for “perfection” is not or cannot be what a dictionary definition of perfection might imply. In Baseball, there is not an example of Ultimate Perfection. But under guidelines for what is defined as Penultimate, we can estimate the ultimate potential of those who might be the closest to perfection.
When most Baseball people attempt to analyze the highest proficiency of bats-man-ship, they see the skillfulness of the hitter as being comprised within a two-dimensional realm, natural phenom” and the “smart hitter.” Phenomenal exhibition would be a basis of evaluation that acknowledges the artistic, natural propensity of an athlete who, under his presently yet unrefined circumstance, makes solid contact of bat to ball without his advocating any strict adherence to disciplined principle. Most notable examples are those “Blue-Chip” prospects who are BIG, STRONG, and FAST, whose physical attributes garner for themselves “big bonus bucks” when they sign their initial contracts and carry the fresh hopes of those organizations that intend to weave this new and endearing material into a more durable fabric for team building. (Thus the recycling of “team-building” continues until the futility of errant ways obviates, and heads roll.)
The “smart-hitter” is a cunning adversary for any “pitcher,” with instincts and astute deductive processes that can successfully promote an effective hitting prowess. This type of batter combines his natural physical talents with a cursory understanding that certain indefinable mental qualities are essential to offset the sometimes-crippling dependency on physicality alone. He tries to incorporate a mental component into his prominent physical dimension because his instincts reveal some underlying mechanism to higher achievement. But without a thorough investigation into the depths of mechanical understanding, the closest his trial and error tactics will get him to his highest proficiency is the range encircling the .300 mark. Not bad, but far from superlative achievement!
The mentality of most professional batters, because of the overpowering “arms” of most professional pitchers, is one with two limited approaches to maintaining a relatively successful attack on the respectable .300 average. “See every pitched ball and swing at strikes,” and “look for a particular pitch, and make sure you hit it” are two simplistic notions that rely primarily on one’s quick physical responses to the given stimuli. And the success of either is determined by the quickness of the batter’s reflexes and the inability of the pitcher to put the ball where he wants it. The highest degree of consistent productivity is never attainable with either of these approaches because their sporadic and sometimes remarkable success is achieved while the batter’s senses seem to be acutely within “the zone” of feeling good, a state of being that is ephemeral at best. On any given day any such hitter could look like a potential “Hall-of-Famer.” But, by the end of a regular season, his numbers some times add up to a compelling mediocrity.
End of Part I.
Coming Soon: “Good Hitter,” and the “Great Hitter” – Part ll