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Why all baseball players should bat left-handed

Posted by John Reed on

All baseball players should bat left handed. The reasons cannot be argued with. Here they are. I explain them in more detail in my books about baseball coaching

Youth Baseball Coaching book

Coaching Teenage and Adult Baseball book1. The left-handed batter’s box is closer to 1st base, 2nd, 3rd, and home plate. Howard Southworth, author of High-Percentage Baserunning says the average high school player arrives at first base .2 of a second faster from the left-handed batter’s box than from the right. Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle was a switch hitter. He arrived .1 of a second faster from the left-handed batter’s box.

2. After swinging, only left-handed batters are facing first base. Wanna run a race where your starting line is one foot farther from the finish line AND you have to start with your back facing the finish line? Neither should your players.

3. It is easier to see the pitcher’s release point if the batter is opposite-handed and most pitchers are right-handed. Seeing the release point lets you recognize curve versus fastball sooner. You have to twist you neck farther to see a same-handed pitcher’s release point. About 90% of amateur pitchers are right handed; about 2/3 of MLB pitchers.

4. Home plate is not in the way of left-handed batters. Remember that race from #2 above? How about if we add an additional handicap for the right-handed batter: a home plate. Of course, you’re wearing baseball spiked shoes. If you start in the left-handed batter’s box, there is no plate between you and first base; in the right-handed batter’s box, there is.

5. Only left-handed batters can drag bunt. A drag bunt is one where you start running toward first before you make contact with the ball.

6. The left-handed batter’s box is better for pull hitters. Most hitters are pull hitters, that is, more likely to get a hit toward the same side of the field as the side they bat on. That’s because:

A. Sometimes the first baseman is holding the runner on first which means he has his foot on the bag which means there is an infield gap through which the batter can pull the ball into right field.

B. It is harder for 1st and 2nd basemen to throw to second base to start a double play if they are right-handed throwers, and the vast majority are.

C. It is easier for the runner at first to advance to third on a single to right field than on a single to left field.

7. Batters who are opposite-handed from pitchers are better able to hit curve balls and sliders. Those pitches break toward an opposite-handed batter. Again, 67% to 90% of pitchers are right handed. A screw ball, in contrast, breaks away from an opposite-handed batter. But hardly any pitchers throw that pitch any more. It is harmful to your arm.

Why is it harder to hit a curve that breaks away from you? A same-handed curve that will end up a strike starts out looking like it’s going to hit you. By rule, if you do not try to get out of the way, and it hits you, you cannot go to first base.

Why is it harder to hit a slider that breaks away from you? A well-placed slider from a same-handed pitcher, looks like a strike fastball, then breaks out of the strike zone, thereby tricking you into swinging at a ball outside of the strike zone.

8. The left-handed batter blocks the view of the catcher toward first base. There are runners on first far more often than there are on third base.

9. The left-handed batter is in the way of the right-handed catcher’s most direct throwing path toward second base. Almost all catchers throw right handed. Why? No reason. Baseball managers are stupid.

Here is another you may have heard. It was actually in the first edition of my Youth Baseball Coaching book. I took it out because additional research revealed it was not true. The American Academy of Opthalmology says having your dominant eye nearest to the pitcher who throws with opposite-side dominant arm does not make you hit better. There are more right-eye dominant people than left-eye dominant, but the ratio is 67% not 90%. So if cross-eye dominance mattered, left-handed hitters with a dominant-right eye would have the advantage against left-handed pitchers whose dominant arm is opposite the batter’s dominant eye, but it doesn’t matter.

These and other great things to make you a better baseball coach or baseball player’s father are in my two baseball coaching books.

I wrote an article about this in American Baseball Coaching Digest years ago. One coach reader of that article said he had been doing that for years at Peoria, IL High School. I ran into Tony LaRussa, my neighbor, once and showed that article to him. He agreed with it except he said he liked to have switch hitters in the Majors where about one third of the pitchers are left handed.

If you let your son or your team bat right handed, they will get fewer hits. That, in turn will decrease their chances of making the highest level team they are eligible for, and their chances of making their high school team at all, and their chances of playing college baseball, and their chances of becoming a pro player and their chances of making the Majors and their chances of making the MLB all-star game and the MLB Hall of Fame. What kind of rotten father would do all that harm to his son? How incompetent a coach do you have to be to inflict all that harm on the kids on your team?

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