We would keep track of these every game. FREE BASES. Our goal was to have 5 or less per game. If we did this we had a 72% chance of winning that game. FREE BASES are…
HBP (Hit By Pitch)
The best way to accomplish this goal game after game is to slow the game down mentally. “You control the game, don’t let it control you”.
Walks: Whether there is no runners on or the bases are loaded, slow it down, analyze the situation you are in and execute a quality pitch. Make them earn their way on base, give them something to hit and don’t GIVE them that FREE BASE!
Balks: Again, slow the game down. Balks usually happen when we let things speed up on us. Make sure you are ready before you put your foot on that rubber. Develop a relaxed intensity that allows for you to be locked in and focused but also prepared for chaos. Don’t panic when your opponent tries to get in your head.
Wild Pitches: To prevent these, it takes two players. As pitchers, first we need a controlled consistent delivery that allows for a consistent release point. As a catcher, we need to be confident in our ability to block the baseball. Work hard and become one of the best at it. It does a lot mentally for a pitcher knowing that they can throw an 0-2 breaking ball in the dirt and their backstop has their back and will do their part.
Passed Balls: Catchers, this is on you. Focus on every pitch. Watch the ball all the way to your glove. Give hard focus when catching bullpens. Focus on receiving. Develop your fast twitch.
Errors: The more we limit these as a team, we will always have a better chance at getting that W. Work your butt off to be a fundamentally sound player! Coaches, never ignore the importance of your team being able to take care of the baseball. Defensive fundamentals must be a weekly focus.
Stolen Bases: This is on the pitchers. We NEED to be experts at controlling the running game. Learn what counts they like to run in. Vary your hold times. Don’t get into patterns (don’t hold for the same count every pitch). Have a good pick off move. Have a good inside move to second. These all take practice. This is a must if you want to be the best at this game!!
HBP: For me, this one could go both ways. Yes it is counted as a FREE BASE but this FREE BASE can work for us as pitchers too. If we are good at pitching inside, this WILL happen. When this does happen, not only will that hitter remember that the next time they come up but when we pitch in (and happen to hit a couple batters), every guy in the other dugout will start to notice. They all might start backing off the plate opening up the outer half for us. Pitchers, develop confidence on pitching inside. That is YOUR plate!!
Limit the FREE BASES we allow as a team and our odds of winning that game go way up!!