When I was a freshman in high school, I was 4′ 11″ and 90lbs and when I graduated high school I was 5’8″, 140lbs. I didn’t even start as a senior in high school. I went to Golden West junior college. My freshman year, when I was 19 years old, I got 3 at bats.
Thank God I grew 4 inches when I was 20 and went from a second string second baseman to an All Conference shortstop in one year. So, don’t let anyone tell your kid he is too small to play this game because nobody knows when he is going to grow except for God and that’s it. I promise you, nobody thought I was going to play in the big leagues (as brief as it was) when I was 19 yrs old!
I played 14yrs of professional baseball including 11 yrs in AAA. I got over 1,600 minor league hits and 4 big league hits, two with the Indians in 1990 and two with the Mets in 1992. But I figured it out when it was too late for me; IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MIND!
If this game wasn’t mental then every top 5 round draft pick should spend 10 yrs in the big leagues and they don’t. And someone tell me why David Eckstein was the MVP of the world series! I’ll tell you why…(Eckstein is about 5’7’ and weighs about a buck forty and looks like he’s throwing a wet bar of soap across the infield but gets it there every single time!), its because he is one of the top 10 competitors in the world that’s why. He can shrink two inches and play in the big leagues!
Now lets talk some hitting. If you asked me what one thing destroys baseball players more than anything else my answer would be “the batting average”, hands down. If I wrote the word CONFIDENCE on the chalkboard and said give me 10 things to create it, the batting average would be at the very bottom holding the whole list up!
In high school baseball you might get 10 at bats a week and in college you might get 15 at bats a week. Well, if you’re lucky enough to play professional baseball you are getting 5 at bats a day every day 7 days a week!! All of a sudden, we’ve only played 6 games and we’re 3 for 30 and so screwed up mentally we are calling every hitting guy in the world to fix us… including our little league coach! And its all based on the batting average and confidence. Everybody’s favorite day in professional baseball is opening day or the playoffs because there are no stats to screw us up! Then on day 2 we start beating ourselves up because now we’re 0 for 8 and in panic mode.
The combo to the lock is how do I get you and your teammates to do 4 thing s every day; walk up to the plate with CONFIDENCE every at bat, 5 at bats a day, every day.  To do that you have to have an ATTAINABLE goal and that is to hit the ball hard. And that’s it! If you hit the ball hard then you win! We can’t control getting a hit, that can’t be the goal. As dumb as this sounds, its unattainable. Think about it, I hit 3 rockets right on the screws to the centerfielder and line out and I lose confidence because my batting average went down. That’s crazy! I beat the pitcher. The pitcher knows I beat him. His mom knows I beat him and I lose confidence when I should be gaining confidence! I’m locked in and ready for the 9th inning to be a hero.  Attack the inside part of the ball. If I were to give you a hitting lesson, you would get sick of me talking about this. My analogy is; if Albert Pujols swings the bat as hard as he can swing it and can hit a ball 500 ft, then why doesn’t he hit 100 homeruns a year? Because, sometimes he’s on the outside part of the ball which creates hard hooking line drives and ground balls. He will “miss” balls that go out of the park when he gets to the inside part of the ball! I’m saying we have the same bat speed on a hard ground ball to shortstop (if we’re right handed), as we do on a line drive into the gap. Its just where we attack the baseball. Whether we hook it by hitting the outside part of the ball, or drive it by attacking the inside part of the ball.  Help your team win that day, what ever it takes.
But what 99% of us do is the opposite of those 4 things! We walk up to the plate with no confidence (because our batting average is so low and bringing us down ). Our goal is to get a hit …which is unattainable! We hook the baseball and hit hard ground balls. And… its all about me and not the team.
Do the first 4 and see how you feel after a couple weeks. Like I said; Everyone’s favorite day in professional baseball is opening day and playoffs because there are no stats to get in your head.
Like my old friend Billy Beane (GM/PRES of the Oakland A’s) says; “Spring, if you knew this at 18 instead of learning it at 30, people might know who you are!” Thanks Billy.
Bottom line is: be a great competitor every day and stop thinking about your batting average! Its about the process, not the result. Players that worry about their batting average don’t want that 5th at bat when they’re 0 for 4. They’re thinking “if two more guys get on I have to hit.” When you say “I don’t care what my batting average is”, I can be 0 for 4 with 4 strikeouts and still be thinking “I need two guys to get on and I can be the hero!” That’s where you want to be!
In closing, STOP LETTING YOUR MIND GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR ABILITY – and always remember -THE BATTING AVERAGE IS TRULY SATAN……..seeya!
This has been really helpful to me, as I am always relying on my AVG, sometimes I do even have a great On Base Percentage, but I still feel unconfident because my hit average is low. I will try just to hit well the ball and whatever that happens…
Great article! We have a 14 yr old just starting high school and going to have him read this too! 🙂