Perfect Timing: Expectation of Light brought to Focus.
All Big-League pitchers either consciously or unwittingly ascribe to the famous quote attributed to Hall of Fame Pitcher, Warren Spahn: “It is the objective of every batter to establish an unobtrusive rhythm of momentum in order to ‘time’ and hit the pitched ball with maximum efficiency; while it is the Pitcher’s goal to upset that rhythm so the batter has difficulty in ‘timing’ the pitch and hitting the ball with ‘authority’.”
In the modern era of Major-League Baseball, the most proficient of batters have commanded rates of success in averages ranging from 30 to 39%. The last Major-League batter to surpass the 40% barrier was Ted Williams, who batted .406 in 1941. George Brett batted .390 in 1980, and Tony Gwynn batted .394 in 1994. That means that pitchers have been more successful in achieving their collective Goal than batters have been in reaching their objectives. That is not to mention the myriad bats-men toiling at a miry continuum transpiring between the ranges of the .299 to .200. Batters don’t seem to know how it is even possible to transcend from their degrading level of deficiency to an aspiring degree of proven proficiency.
A pitcher who effectively utilizes every natural physical asset that he has been endowed with can achieve ultimate success, but only if he is capable of knowing when and where to throw a specific pitch, as well as demonstrating a propensity for directing the ball forcefully to that specific place. Proper mechanics, facilitating both power and control, must be complemented with the knowledge and understanding of the batter’s Psyche in order to offset his formidable capability for productively hitting a baseball. The pitcher’s job will be easy or difficult, according to the degree of perfect application of the “principle of pitching” (throwing), as well as the extent to which the batter follows a proven, commendable principle of his own.
In professional baseball, it is an assumed fact that good batters can hit the fastest fastball and the best of curves when they know what pitch is coming. In batting practice, they’ll hit a pitcher’s best “stuff” consistently, if he tells them what’s coming, at least after a few swings and their “Timing mechanisms” are set. In games, the most astute hitters remain effective by learning to identify (either consciously or unconsciously) certain peculiar habits of pitchers, who may “telegraph” their intentions by slightly changing the characteristics of their normal procedure.
All pitchers should be aware of the salient and subtle characteristics, both physical and mental, of all the batters they will face. Batters with poor mechanics should be relatively easy outs for pitchers who understand how to circumvent those areas where such hitters could be a potential threat. Batters with good mechanics can be more than formidable foils, if the pitcher lacks the experience, skill, and delicate perspicacity to discern their potential strengths and weaknesses.
Albert Einstein’s revelations, based on his Special Relativity theory and subsequent Photo-Electric Effect explain that “…the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion.” And his observation of “time-dilation” indicates the phenomenon of different times for different observers. With his contribution to the establishment of Quantum Physics he informally states, that “at the fundamental levels of matter, causation is a matter of statistical probabilities, not certainties.”
The batter who understands these principles, and competently applies them to his hitting technique, can reap unprecedented benefits. A low, stable stance, without a visual-degrading stride, presents an impenetrable structure of defiance and credibility to any pitcher hoping to perforate what seems an impervious piece of offensive weaponry. However, most batters, unacquainted with the finer essences of scientific examination, unwittingly expose themselves to myriad factors of vulnerability, of which astute and punctilious pitchers are known to take complete and unrelenting advantage.
Throughout the history of Baseball, it can be stated without reservation that “The Premier Pitcher Principle” has been the dominant factor with regard to the confrontational relationship between the pitcher and the hitter. Contests categorically pronounce the pitcher victorious in at least seven out of every ten encounters. Pitcher dominance is due to two main conditions, detrimental to the make-up of the traditional batting technique: the high stance, and the stride. The high stance ultimately creates an inappropriate viewpoint from which to clearly see the ball throughout the distance of its flight from the mound to home plate. The movement of the body during the stride also distorts clear visual acuity, while providing an indefinite and inconsistent starting point from which to begin the swing. Removing or changing those two conditions would immediately decrease the margin for error, in favor of the batter.
The best pitchers, if not consciously aware of those facts, instinctively sense the batter’s particular vulnerability, and keep the ball where he can’t hit it effectively. The smart pitcher, at times, seems to be the only one cognizant of the fact that he is standing about 1 foot above the plane of home plate. Batters who swing down on the ball must be oblivious to the fact that every pitch is descending into the strike zone. The perceptive pitcher must at least sense that a batter’s eyes, in a high stance, will have difficulty accurately following the descending flight of the ball as it is transcending countless horizontal planes. Therefore a low strike would entail extraordinary kinesthetic ability on the part of the batter in order to hit the ball. Also, the forward stride would not go unnoticed by the observant mounds-man. As a magician, working his audience, so the pitcher would take delight in a batter whose peripatetic eyes will wander everywhere and not stay still, to focus. Off-speed pitches would wreak havoc on unsuspecting head-gliders, until an infrequent fastball zips right by them.
When a good pitcher encounters a batter with a low stance, he is immediately aware that this hitter has a minute strike-zone, has a greater range for hitting the high or low pitch, and his body’s low center-of-gravity has the potential for providing a quicker and more powerful stroke. However, if the batter has a pronounced stride, the pitcher’s fear is alleviated somewhat, because excessive eye movement is imminent, and the prospect for his back leg to straighten seems forthcoming. Mixing pitches, with impeccable control, leaves this batter’s threatening demeanor as a negligible affectation.
However, the batter in a low stance, who doesn’t stride, creates the only true conundrum for the pitcher of the “premier principle.” This hitter’s low, stable stance provides for maximum balance, quickness, and power, as well as for constant visual acuity, to avoid the natural distortions that any extra movement creates, throughout the flight of the ball and the swing of the bat. Therefore, when “Premier Pitcher” meets “Premier Batter” in this one-on-one confrontation, pitcher must rely heavily on his Einsteinian postulates that “…the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion; …the phenomenon of time-dilation states different times for different observers; and … at the fundamental levels of matter, causation is a matter of statistical probabilities, rather than certainties.”
Since this batter’s eyes are stationary, the pitcher, like a magician, has to distract his incredulous challenger from distinctly focusing on the specific, by substituting a series of decoys, by means of extraneous movement or evoking superfluous thought patterns. He needs to curtail the condition of uniformity for which the batter relies, and exchange it for a haphazard, indefinite, change-of-pace series of stimulation to keep the hitter off-balance. If he thinks like the hitter, hides the ball well, changes speeds on all his pitches, and has command of the strike-zone, he has a statistical chance to defray his costs with minimal expenditures, like ground balls, pop-ups, impotent fly-balls, “right-at-um” line-drives, or “bleeding” base-hits.
If batters only knew that there is a “Premier Batting” Principle, the “Premier Pitching” Principle would become obsolete, and only the “Master-Magician” would remain. The pitcher wants to assert his mastery over the batter and deny absolute validity to the application of his proven Principle. And that is the only recourse the pitcher has. Since the batting principle is sound, the pitcher must deny the batter’s right to perfect application. He can do this only by abiding by the same mechanism of statistical probabilities as the hitter. Remember Einstein’s “special relativity” correctly asserts that “the laws of physics are exactly the same for all observers in uniform motion.” And from what has been statistically certified over the history of pitcher-batter relationships, the disproportionate advantage to the pitcher cannot be denied. The batting Principle could assert a more pronounced effectiveness against the statistical dominance of the “Premier Pitcher Principle”– (which is merely an illusion).
The missing link in applying the hitting principle has always been the inconsistent visual acuity of the batter in accurately detecting the speed of the fast-ball, as well as the direction and varying speeds of “breaking” and other off-speed pitches. All this, of course, was due to excessive movement of the head, the primary culprits being the high stance and batter’s stride. The pitcher’s arsenal of distracting and illusory forces will still work its devastating carnage on ignorant bats-men, until the Einsteins of a new era of batting prominence will set the standard for hitting elegance.