Pete Rose On Tipping Pitches

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall while listening to a conversation with Pete Rose on tipping pitches?

You're in luck.

A big part of our pitch recognition training here at Applied Vision Baseball relates to developing instincts and picking up a pitcher's tendencies on the mound.

The more effective you are at picking up patterns the more accurate you'll be with anticipating what the pitcher will do next.

Steve Springer On Tipping Pitches

Batting practice is checkers...

Stepping in the box when the pitcher can consistently locate a 90+ mph fastball on both sides of the plate while following up with a nice breaking ball, is chess.

Below is a short discussion with Pete Rose on pitch recognition and how he approached pitchers that tipped their pitches throughout his career.

Enter Pete Rose.

Pete Rose On Tipping Pitches

Pete Rose On "See Ball, Hit Ball"

Mr. Rose, you often talked about your approach to hitting and overall hitting philosophy being "see ball", "hit ball". Now, we all know pitchers are creatures of habit. How often did you anticipate what the pitcher was throwing based on whether he was tipping pitches?

I only noticed when a pitcher was tipping his pitches in a game on time. One guy. One specific pitcher and I told him about it because I liked him.

John D'Acquisto.

He pitched for San Diego, and it was one of those deals where whenever he was in the stretch and he was going to throw a fastball, he'd have his glove at his chest.

When he was going to throw a curveball he'd have his glove set at his waist. This was in his stretch of course. It got to the point that it was so obvious.

I really liked him. He was a good guy. And one time at the end of the season I said, "John," I said, "I just want to tell you something...

"I said, "You look at the film. Whenever you throw a fastball, and it's … not the windup, the stretch, you stop here at your chest. And on a curveball, you stop here at your waist."

And he thanked me later on. He called me and said, "You're absolutely right. Thank you."

pitchers tipping pitches

Some say you were one of the best hitters at recognizing a pitcher's tendencies. How often did you know notice pitchers tipping pitches?

I didn't want to know what pitch was coming to be honest with you...

I never wanted to know. If my teammate was on second, I didn't want him telling me what's coming. I didn't want to know because I wanted to make adjustments during the pitch...but then again, I had big advantage. I was a switch hitter.

So I didn't have any curveballs starting down at my chin and ending up on the outside part of the plate.

Because if you're batting right-handed and you got a right-hander pitching, and your teammate tells you it's a curveball from second base, and the guy throws you an up and in fastball, you just got hit in the jaw....because he might be wrong.

Pete Rose On Guess Hitting

Now, you tell Johnny Bench what was coming, he'd hit that damn thing out of Yellowstone Park. If he knew what was coming, there ain't a ballpark could hold Johnny. He liked knowing what pitch was coming down the shoot.

I didn't. He tried to figure out things like that.

See, some guys are what we call guest hitters. And it's okay to guess. But my philosophy on hitting was I always looked for the pitcher's hardest pitch.

And 99 out of 100 guys, that's a fastball. The only guy who had a harder pitch than a fastball that I ever faced was Gaylord Perry's spitball. It just exploded. So I would watch for Gaylord Perry's spitball.

He knew he threw it. We knew he threw it.

I don't know if the catcher knew it, but that's fine. I mean he was a competitor. But Johnny, if he knew a pitch was coming, you had no chance.

But some guys are guess hitters, some guys guess areas as in zones and inside or outside.

What I mean by that, you might look for a slider low and away, and you go out and hit it out of the ballpark. You might look for a fastball down and in.

But if you guess wrong, guess hitters are going to do a couple things. They're going to strike out a lot because they guess wrong, and they're going to get hit a lot because they guess wrong.

Hitters like Billy Hamilton, line drive and gap to gap type hitters should look for fastballs.

You can adjust to everything else.

What Does Tipping Pitches Mean?

At the 2019 World Series, fervor over tipping pitches was high. Given all the noise over sign-stealing the year before, it’s not surprising.

What exactly is tipping pitches and why has it been making MLB organizations so jumpy as of late? Let’s take a look at what it is, what it means, and how, as a youth pitcher, you can avoid it.

What is a Tipped Pitch?

When a pitcher “tips” it means there’s some feature about his windup that indicates which pitch he’s about to throw. It could be holding his glove slightly higher, leaning his body more to one side than the other, or sticking his index finger outside his glove, a physical habit that hitters can watch for and identify as a sign for which pitch is coming their way.

It’s similar to a “tell” in poker.

Watching for Tipped Pitches is Legal

Unlike sign stealing, examining pitchers’ windups for tips is completely legal. With the use of digital technology in the dugout and on the field, though, some complain that teams enter into a gray area concerning pitch tipping.

It’s not uncommon for teams to film their own pitchers, scrutinizing the footage very carefully afterward to look for tips. They use this video to help pitchers correct any tells in their windup.

But when teams film opposing pitchers to watch for tipped pitches, questions are raised. Technically the practice is legal, just as watching pitchers closely with the naked eye is legal.

Teams simply have to ask themselves how far they’re willing to go in their pitch recon. For now, each organization can adhere to their own sense of ethics when it comes to watching for pitch tipping, since it’s still legal.

How to Avoid Tipping Pitches

As a pitcher, you could easily become paranoid that some inadvertent action you’re doing tips off the batter to your next pitch. Some pitchers have adapted by hiding their grip when delivering the ball.

Others turn their bodies in such a way that their arm is hidden from the batter’s sight until the last minute. One famous pitcher, Dennis Eckersley, took an opposite approach by clearly showing his grip on the ball to hitters, attempting to psych them out.

Playing as a youth pitcher, you likely won’t have to worry about other teams filming you – nor should you worry about your game being broadcast on live TV. But that doesn’t mean opposing teams’ players and coaches aren’t watching. To study your potential pitching tips, have your coaches watch your windup closely, looking for your tells. You could also have a coach or parent film you during pitching practice or a game, so you can review the footage for yourself.

If you or someone else notices you have a tell, work on fixing it in practice. Filming yourself comes in handy here. You can compare before and after footage to see if you’ve truly corrected your pitch tipping or not.

Final Thoughts on Tipping Pitches

A tipped pitch is just a bad habit, but as hitters, if we're doing our job of studying pitchers, there's always something that we can find about their approach on the mound that can and will give us an edge when we step in the batter's box.

Study the pitcher. They're the test.

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