Our 2015 series on learning baseball from those who teach it best continues with this week’s feature on being offensively sound…from University of Dayton coach, Tony Vittorio.

As you well know,  or if you don’t know,  hitting a round baseball with a round bat on a consistent basis is one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports. Because of how difficult it is, we have broken the hitting approach for the hitter down into two different counts:  cheat counts and two strike counts. Today we will talk about the cheat count and what we will intend to do as a hitter  while we are in a cheat count.

What is a cheat count for a hitter in baseball?  The following counts are cheat counts:

Balls.      Strikes
0.             0
1.             0
2.             0
3.             0
0.             1
1.             1
2.             1
3.             1

Basically,  every count, without two strikes on a hitter, is a cheat count.   What should a hitter do when he steps into the box when he is in a cheat count?  Here is the thought process that hitters should have when they are in a cheat count:

#1 – If I am going to swing at this pitch, I am going to put a swing worthy of a double on this pitch
#2 – When I swing at this pitch, I am going to stay in the middle of the field with the baseball. The middle of the field consist of between left center and right center field.

Most young players do not have an approach at all when they step into the box and are basically concerned about just moving the baseball or making contact. If a player could understand what count he is in while in the box on that pitch, then he would have a better sense of what he needs to do with that particular pitch thus having a better opportunity to hit more baseball’s on the barrel of the bat. This will produce more Quality at Bats (QABs) which will be a future topic on hitting.

Pretty simple philosophy on hitting when a hitter is in a cheat count – put a a swing worthy of a double on the baseball and stay in the middle of the field. Our players are consistently reminded during a game when they are in a cheat count. When they hear “cheat count”, they immediately think double and stay in the middle of the field.

In the next article we will discuss two strike hitting counts.

Until next time…….

Tony Vittorio
Baseball Coach