Statistically, you're less likely to get a hit with two strikes on you, but having a two-strike approach gives you a fighting chance when you're best options besides getting a hit is making the pitcher work while putting pressure on the defense. Understanding these two-strike hitting & pitch recognition tips will give you that ability.
You've got two strikes on you. Your job now is to battle, protect the plate and put the ball in play.
The pitcher winds up, releases the pitch as you load up, stride and throw the hands.
Woosh!! You swing. It's a ball in the dirt, and you chased it.
I've never seen you swing and I can already tell you that 80% of your strikeouts are swinging at balls in the dirt. Ammirite? lol.
It happens to hitters at every level. Don't feel bad.
Here's the kicker! Being the type of hitter who knows how to NOT chase balls in the dirt, especially with two strikes is a hitter with instincts.
Often times, when a scout is watching a player, they're there not to see a hitter succeed but to see how they play the game...
More specifically, how they handle failure, adversity, their rhythm while demonstrating instincts and I.Q.
At the plate, good instincts comes in the form of plate discipline and selective aggressiveness.
In other words, taking controlled violent swings in hitter's counts, (1-0, 2-0, 3-1) and spitting on breaking ball pitches in the dirt.
All good hitters are great 2-strike hitters. Here are five two-strike hitting & pitch recognition tips that will help you get there.
Hitters with elite pitch recognition & a good 2 strike approach:
- Learn to recognize the ball up in the zone, early.
- Are ready for the fastball in hitters counts
- Shortens up but stays selective
- Keeps posture
- Sees the 'Pop"
1. Learn to recognize the ball up in the zone, early.
An approach that we teach so often that we're blue in the face is posting up or zoning up. In other words, while in the batter's box, we're looking for something up in the zone.
A breaking ball that starts up in the zone ends up in the zone as a strike.
A breaking ball that starts in the zone, ends up in the dirt when it arrives in the strike zone.
Being aggressive on pitches up in the zone allows you to take controlled violent swings while having the plate discipline to lay off on pitches buried in the dirt.
There's a reason why pitchers are taught to keep the ball down. Balls left up in the zone are mistake pitches and they deserve to be crushed. 😉
Be aggressive on pitches up in the zone!
2. Be ready for the fastball in hitters counts
1-0, 2-0, 3-1 are hitters counts. Why? Well, what's a cardinal rule as a pitcher? You can't beat walks!!!
Especially leadoff walks and two-out walks.
Good pitchers throw strikes. In hitter's counts, they almost have no choice.
It's really hard to be an effective pitcher on the mound when you're 3-0, 3-1 or 3-2.
So when you're in a hitter's count, be ready for the fastball. A controlled violent swing on a fastball in the zone shows good instincts.
Sometimes, the best way to hit with two strikes is to avoid hitting with two strikes. Hit the pitch earlier in the count instead!
3. Shorten up but stay selective
We've often heard to "widen the zone with two strikes." We're told, "anything close Johnny!". How much sense does this make?
The pitcher is trying to make us chase. What we really want to do is swing at strikes and put the ball in play. We want to shorten up but stay selectively aggressive.
Good two-strike hitting and putting the ball in play doesn't mean throw your hands at a ball 4 inches off the plate and chopping at a ball a foot over your head just because you have two strikes.
It means battling. Protecting the plate. Not protecting the batter's box.
Sometimes, you have to shorten the zone. Stay selective with two and trust your hands.
4. Keep posture
Repeat after me. "If you have to leave your posture, it's NOT a strike".
Here's the reality. Most hitters go into "panic mode" with two strikes. They just want to get out of there, as if having two strikes is living a nightmare.
So the pitch comes, they stick their butt out, lunge and hope they make contact.
If you have to lung or reach for a pitch, it's not a strike.
Keep this in mind as well. All swings are fastball swings.
Whether we're swinging at a fastball, breaking ball, or off-speed, how we attack the fastball is how we need to attack any other pitch!
We're not slowing down to make contact or to "not" miss. We're swinging to make hard, solid contact no matter the pitch type. Period.
Take a fastball swing on off-speed pitches.
5. See the "Pop"
A good curveball that ends up a strike will "pop" out of the hand of the pitcher's hand at the release point.
It's an optical allusion because what's happening is the ball is coming out of the pitcher's hands on a higher plane of the fastball since there's an arch.
Seeing how the ball starts on a higher plane after the release point is a great way to recognize the curveball sooner.
See the "pop". If it starts high, you're hacking away!
A small adjustment, but big edge.
Putting it all together
In all, being a good two-strike hitter has nothing to do with being a "great hitter".
Rather, being a good two-strike hitter is about being "good" consistently.
Becoming "good" consistently will lead to greatness.
Protecting the plate, making the pitcher work, getting their pitch count up, putting pressure on the defense, giving your own pitcher a chance to rest...
...these are all things that puts future success in your favor.
At the end of the day, what this really is about is helping your team win.
When you add all these together, success tends to find you.
I hope you enjoyed these 5 two-strike hitting & pitch recognition tips!