Posted: 2019-03-13 13:04:48 (ET) [ 374 views ]
I’ve received a lot of communication from both members and prospective members asking questions about “why can’t players, especially experienced hitters, adjust and remember how to hit in all 30 Major League Baseball parks?
As the season draws nearer, I feel I should try to address this question, so hang with me as I try to put you in the “Batter’s Box.”
As most of you know, by now, the VMI is an attempt to quantify the difference between the “usual” and the “unusual” in terms of movement the pitcher will be allowed within today’s air resistance. So the question then becomes, how long does it take for the hitter to become used to today’s movement, enough so, that his overall batting average does not suffer? After all, the hitter is going to have a chance to hit upward lifting pitches, downward breaking pitches, sliders, sinkers and even change-ups. The VMI identifies only the physical elements involved in hitting (or missing) the primary pitches in baseball. So, it is the “eye” portion of hand-eye coordination. The “hand” portion is more related to setting up to hit the fastball but changing position to square up on a surprise slider.
The next question will normally be; why cannot a hitter who is extremely experienced, avoid slumps and even seasons full of slumps?
So, this question is much more related to the mental focus of the hitter than is the “eye” imagination (what he imagines the pitch will be) or the “hand” coordination. Mental focus in a baseball hitters’ world is a little bit like driving a car…that is; if one is used to driving, he/she is driving by “rote memory.” If nothing is unusual, a driver can go for miles and not even remember passing through sometimes an entire city – especially a smaller one. While not asleep, so to speak, but he/she is focused on other things than driving. He/she does not need to focus on driving, because nothing unusual is happening so the focus is just not as keen as it should be in this instance or is focused on something more specific (like the radio) rather than the surroundings.
This concept is as close to the hitter (as I can communicate) who is so accustomed to hitting, that he can become too focused on his mechanics or trying to out guess the pitcher or any number of other things that can cause him to make poor decisions. This is where the very small VMI’s come in handy. Since the VMI tells you when the hitter is out of his element physically; then when he is not out of his element, his poor performances are more easily attributed to a great pitching performance or identified as focus. Furthermore, since the VMI applies to the entire team, then physical adjustments affecting wins and losses, over / under scoring and even player performance against certain pitch mixes can be identified by analysts and fantasy managers if they try.
So, in hitting, all of the aspects mentioned above are equally important because any single issue can derail a player for a day or a season. Hitting begins with experience and natural ability, but keen focus and physical adjustment to today's conditions are as important to the rookie as they are to the veteran.
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