Where You Fit in the Baseball Lineup

By Doug Bernier

A good hitting philosophy should definitely depend on what kind of hitter you are. Are you a player that hits for a lot of power, do you try to set the table and get on base for the middle of the lineup, can you run, are you a good situational hitter, can you hit to all parts of the field or do you mostly just pull the ball.

Accurately evaluating yourself and knowing what kind of hitter you are can be difficult. The great thing about baseball is there is room on every team and in the big leagues for all types of hitters.

Players get in trouble when they want to be something they are not. This is fairly common and a problem most young hitters face. Everyone wants to hit homeruns. But not everyone was talented in that area. If you hit one homerun a year and most of your outs are fly balls, you are only hurting yourself.

The good hitters use what they are given and use it to the best of their ability. If you can run, hit balls on the ground and utilize the bunt. If you can handle the bat, try to hit the 3-4 hole (in between 1st and 2nd base) with a runner on 1st base, to get the runner to move up to 3rd base. Some hitters are trying to get on base any way possible, while others are in scoring position when they step up to the plate. Understand your game, and embrace it.

What Makes Up A Typical Baseball Lineup

The leadoff hitter

The typical leadoff hitter can usually run. He has a high on base percentage, good average and takes his walks. The leadoff hitter can handle the bat by bunting, good hit and run guy and doesn’t strike out a lot. He can create havoc on the bases when necessary.

The 2, 8, and 9 hitters

These guys are table setters, they can handle the bat. You need to be able to bunt, situationaly hit ( hit and run, hit a ball to the right side with a runner on second and 0 outs, sacrifice fly with runner on third.) These players should be gritty and battle.

Just because you hit eighth or ninth doesn’t mean you are not an important hitter. At some point all hitters, no matter where in the baseball lineup they are, will be up in a big situation.
If you are hitting in the spot before the pitcher (usually 8th) that can be a tough assignment. You will usually be pitched very carefully. The pitcher hopes you will expand the zone and swing at bad pitches. With runners on base don’t be surprised to get off speed pitches in fastball counts and fastballs that are meant for the corners of the plate. They know if you walk they have a weak hitter behind you, but they are hoping to get you to chase and get yourself out.
The number 3 hitter

The number 3 hitter is usually your best in the lineup. He most times will have a unique blend of batting average and power. He hits in this spot to drive in runners, and he is guaranteed to hit in the first inning. He can put runs on the board.

The 4 and 5 guys

are usually power guys that may strike out more than the others in the lineup but have long ball potential. Every time they step in the box they strike fear into their opponents.

The 6 and 7 guys

are very good hitters usually high average with a little less power than the 3,4,5 guys. They are very important to protect the power spots in the baseball lineup by hitting well and driving in runners. The 6 and 7 spots in the lineup can have big RBI potential. A team that has strong 6 and 7 hole hitters makes the baseball lineup so much deeper and a lot more difficult to pitch to.

This is a very basic template of a typical baseball lineup, this can change depending on the teams personnel in the lineup. Possible changes might include:

Your leadoff hitter may have the most power but he hits there because he doesn’t strike out very often and the coach wants him to get as many at bats as possible.
Your number 3 hitter may have no power at all but he hits for a high average and has been pretty successful with driving runners in. He is not your prototypical 3 hole hitter, but can be very productive in the 3rd slot.

I hope this overview of the baseball lineup can help you determine your own personal hitting philosophy and where you fit in the lineup.

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger’s AAA team the Round Rock Express.
(Originally Posted at www.probaseballinsider.com)

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Eight Proactive Strategies for Discussing a Problem with Your Kid’s Coach

By Angela Weight

I get a lot of messages from parents seeking advice on various dilemmas. Many of them end with “how do I talk to the coach about this?” (“This” is usually lack of playing time or some other perceived unfairness leveled against a player.)

99-percent of these questions are from well-meaning, level-headed, sensible people who want to handle their issue with the coach productively and without arrest warrants. However, when your kid and emotions are involved, all your best etiquette can sail over the fence like a fouled off curve ball. (It can for me, anyway.) But over the years, I’ve learned to communicate with my sons’ coaches more effectively without the help of alcohol, vandalism and terroristic threats.

Therefore, I thought I’d share some guidelines on how to approach the coach in a positive, constructive, nonjudgmental way (He’ll be more willing to consider your perspective if he isn’t dodging insults and accusations.)

Some of you are reading this thinking, “but the guy’s an idiot! And he needs to be called out! I’ll just be saying what everyone else is thinking.”

You may have a point. And if your goal is to sever all ties with the team, burn a few bridges and have other coaches avoid your player because they don’t want to have to deal with his psycho parents, then be my guest. Storm right up into the dugout in the middle of a game and LET THAT COACH HAVE IT. Don’t just limit your diatribe to baseball related insults. Be sure to criticize his ethics, his intelligence, his job, his physique, his wife, his mother, his children and the vehicle he drives. And while you’re at it, call the assistant coaches “know-nothing pansies” for being associated with this clown. Don’t leave out the home plate umpire! After all, he’s being paid off by every team you’ve ever faced.

Once you and your humiliated kid have been tossed out of the tournament facility, you can pump your fist in pride. Because YOU TOLD THEM, alright. You really let ’em have it! Surely the coach will change his ways and become a better man thanks to your verbal assault.

On the other hand, if you’re hoping for a more solution focused conversation, here are some helpful tips for accomplishing that.

1. Ask your kid for his take on the situation. You might be surprised to learn that he has no idea what you’re talking about… or doesn’t see it as a problem. (A while back, we had a parent complain about the coach always “dumping” her son in the outfield. What she didn’t realize was that he had asked for that position and was happy there.) If you’re the only one with an issue, then maybe it’s not really an issue.

2. Encourage your kid to speak up for himself. This is hugely important. Stepping back and letting your player take that initiative shows him that you trust his ability to handle tough conversations. Plus, the coach will have more respect for him because he’s not letting Mom or Dad fight his battles. I can’t stress enough what a confidence builder this is. Kids can handle most of their own issues if we just give them a little guidance and step out of the way. (Every coach and player are different. So use your best judgment here.)

In his article, Approaching a Coach: How to do it the Right Way, former pro J.T. Putt uses this conversation starter.

“Hey Coach, I was wondering if I could talk to you for a second about playing time. I’m wondering what extra work I can do to put myself in a position to get on the field more. What are the areas that you see as my weaknesses and what drills can I use to turn those weaknesses into strengths?”

Notice the positive tone and how the kid wants to know what HE can do to get more playing time. What coach wouldn’t admire a kid who shows that kind of maturity?

3. Remember that the coach doesn’t view your kid the same way that you do. He might not see the future MLB All-Star that you see. While your player is your primary concern, the coach is trying to do what’s best for all 10, 11 or 12 kids on the team. Quite a balancing act. What’s great for one kid might cause another to feel like he’s getting the shaft. But if that kid gets what he wants all the time, then another player might be unhappy. It’s like the alternate endings in that old Keanu Reeves movie, The Butterfly Effect.

4. Do some role-playing and try to see the issue from the coach’s point of view. Try to come up with legitimate reasons that he might’ve done x, y or z.

5. Never NEVER NEVER try to have a serious conversation with the coach before, during or immediately after a game. ESPECIALLY NOT DURING THE GAME unless your child’s life is in immediate danger. Then, yeah, go ahead, if you must.

6. If something upsetting has happened during a game, give yourself time to cool down, (at least 24 hours) before speaking to the coach about it. This includes texting, emailing, FB messaging or sending him photos of yourself posing with deadly weapons.

7. When speaking to the coach, stay focused on the reason for your conversation. Resist the temptation to veer into team or league gossip or badmouthing other parents or players. You don’t want to be seen as THAT parent. As my granny used to say, “tend to your own side of the street and let other folks take care of theirs.” (Looking back, it’s kind of ironic because my grandmother was a notorious gossip. Maybe that advice really was just about curb appeal.)

8. Be willing to truly listen to what the coach has to say. Most of us are so busy trying to get our own points across that we miss important information. As I said earlier, put yourself in the coach’s shoes. Don’t bring unwarranted suspicions into the conversation such as “the coach has it out for your kid” or “he won’t care what you have to say because you’re not part of the inner circle.” Assumptions like these do nothing but sabotage a kid’s success on his team.

*** Sometimes the issue isn’t about your player at all. It might be a legitimate concern regarding team money allocation, use of guest players, lack of transparency…or any other topic that gets parental undergarments in a collective wad. Things like this are often most effectively addressed in a team parents’ meeting.

As usual, I had my husband James, a 10-year veteran Little League, rec league and travel ball coach read this post before I hit the publish button. He’s a pretty laid back guy who rarely gets his feathers ruffled (unless you eat all the ice cream and put the empty container back in the freezer).

He added his two cents below.

Write down your concerns and issues. Try to be very specific and factual, not emotional. Make a list of the 2 or 3 most important issues that you want to discuss, and stay focused on those.

Treat it like a conversation with your child’s teacher. Sometimes your kid has a ‘problem’ with their teacher. Arrange a good time for a meeting. Send a non-threatening email. Just like the coach, the teacher is doing the best they can for a lot of kids.

Also understand this, coaches are human. They make mistakes. They have priorities that might differ from yours. Most likely they are volunteering their time to help the team and your child. Respect that.

There are a dozen signs at our Little League that say “before you complain, have YOU volunteered?”

Travel Ball Parents is run by veteran baseball moms, Angela Weight of Richmond, VA and Kari Hicks of Buffalo, NY, covering all things travel ball related, with a big dose of humor thrown in. Visit our website travelballparents.com

Quote to start your day

It comes from our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln:
“I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”

Let that guide you through today, tomorrow and every day!

OnDeck welcomes Team Batting Gloves

If you are looking for a cool fundraising item for your youth, travel or high school team, or just want to outfit the kids in uniform from hand to toe, check out www.TeamBattingGloves.com. Top of the line quality and bargain price, fully customized in team colors with logo and embroidered nickname on the straps. We appreciate their support of our OnDeck Newsletter.

Happy (belated) Fathers Day!

All you dads out there who love to play sports with your kids…know they love it even more and will remember the times they spent with you on the field, in the water, at the gym or wherever you play, forever. Happy Fathers Day.

What are you going to do this weekend?

Got an all-star tournament to attend? Going golfing on a warm summer day? Maybe a swim at the beach? Tennis anyone? Whatever you do, around the chores and sleeping in, make sure to get out and get some sports and exercise in. When Monday rolls around again you’ll be glad you did. Enjoy your weekend!

Little League All-Star Tournaments Underway

Hard to believe it’s already that time of year but in many areas of the country Little League all-star games are beginning. As we know this tournament will culminate with eight teams from the United States and eight international teams convening in Williamsport, PA for the Little League World Series. Good luck to all of our CoachDeck clients on the road to Willilamsport!