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The shift, 100 mph heat, near impossible odds: How hitters are fighting back

The shift, 100 mph heat, near impossible odds: How hitters are fighting back

“Since I can remember being around advanced process in the major leagues, and player development at the major league level, the advancements on the run-prevention side have dwarfed what’s going on in the run-scoring side,” Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “If we’re setting records for strikeouts as an industry, let’s think about this differently — let’s ask different questions, let’s be open-minded to ways we can possibly combat that.”

The Dodgers put themselves at the forefront by going unconventional with their hitting coach, taking a chance on a 32-year-old specialist named Robert Van Scoyoc, who barely even played in high school.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Van Scoyoc helped turn J.D. Martinez into a power-hitting dynamo and was influenced by Craig Wallenbrock, the popular private hitting instructor who was among the early advocates of launch angle. Van Scoyoc is the third Wallenbrock pupil to become the main hitting coach this offseason, along with Johnny Washington (San Diego Padres) and Tim Laker (Seattle Mariners). A fourth, Brant Brown, was recently installed as the Dodgers’ hitting strategist.2

The amount of information available and the amount of cage time required necessitated three men for essentially one job, a concept that is sure to catch on throughout the industry. Angels first-year manager Brad Ausmus called hitting coach “the most time-intensive coaching job on the staff.”

The reason: Hitting is damn near impossible these days.

Major league players combined to strike out 41,207 times in 2018, making it the 11th consecutive season to set a new record. Pitchers are throwing harder, with more movement, than ever before, and defenses have become increasingly more adept at situating themselves in the right places.

Chris Woodward, the new Texas Rangers manager who was previously the Dodgers’ third-base coach, is among those now instructing their hitters to go against the shift.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

One of Woodward’s biggest run producers, Joey Gallo, faced a shift on 84.2 percent of his plate appearances last season, second in the majors only to Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis. Gallo’s strength, like that of most left-handed power hitters, is to pull pitches in the inner third of the strike zone. Woodward doesn’t want Gallo to stray from that. But if it’s a two-strike count with two outs and a runner in scoring position, a ground ball to a vacant left side might not be such a bad idea.