Posted Under: Johanna's View
Again, if you read yesterday’s post, you know I am at the World Baseball Coaches convention, which brings coaches from all over New England and the Mid-Atlantic states together to talk about coaching techniques. There have been some heavy hitters in terms of presenters, including CWS Champion University of Arizona coach Andy Lopez, Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey and even former Red Sox Manager Jimy Williams as presenters.
Attendees include youth coaches, high school coaches and college coaches and the baseball knowledge in the room is tremendous. One of the great speakers I heard yesterday is Bill Masse, the Director of Pro Scouting for the Seattle Mariners. He spoke about how he feels high school and in some case college coaches should look to put together line-ups. And while some of his theories do transfer to professional baseball, it is interesting to think about his ideas when thinking about the various skill levels on a high school team.
Characteristics of Bill Masse’s ideal line-up at the non-pro level:
Leadoff- Most confident hitter, and best communicator. Yes he needs to get on-base, but he needs to believe he will get on base. He also needs to be able to come back to the bench after that at-bat and communicate what he saw as quickly and efficiently as he can. That is a huge idea. He told a story about Derek Jeter in the minors and how he was able good, after a quick moment, at telling others about the movement he had seen after an at-bat.
#2- best contact hitter, and knows the game. Can take pitches, is patient as a hitter. Knows what is best in that game situation.
#3- best hitter who can handle and likes the limelight. If you have a great hitter who isn’t comfortable being the star, move him into the #5 hole. Put the solid guy who can handle the pressure here.
#4- While power is important, put the guy who can hit the breaking ball here. Most coaches are going to assume that the #4 hitter can hit a fastball, and with guys on base, this guy will see a lot more breaking pitches. He also needs to have a strong presence- but doesn’t that come with power at the high school level?
#5- Again, can hit with men on base. Will attack early, and is aggressive, but as said above doesn’t really like being in the spotlight
#6 and #7 - Almost starting over again- some speed here is a good thing- so you have speed up in each inning. Think of these as #1 and #2 hitters who might be just a little less adept
#8 and #9 - These are your gamers. They aren’t the best players, but they want to help the team any way they can. They have a toughness that allows them to be successful at the bottom of the order. In high school this can be much more important in a lot of ways because it can show everyone how to make the most out of opportunities.
What is interesting to me is how different that bottom of the order is from the pros, where they bunch the speed at the top and the very bottom of the order. The rhythm of the game is different, but think about these ideas the next time you are watching a pro game at every level. How much confidence does it take to be the lead-off hitter. Do you think of that player as a communicator? Does the #5 hitter like the limelight as much as the #3 or even the #4 hitters? Make-up is one of those big intangibles, but listening to Masse speak, it became a little clearer how make-up is determined. It was just some very cool stuff.