By Chance Reynolds
One way to help your players have a very successful season this year is by taking a moment to ask them, “What type of hitter do you think you are?”
Most young hitters have never slowed down long enough to consider such a thought. Typically, they run from hitting lessons to practice to games, with no consideration to the gifts they have blessed with and strengths they may have.
There are only three “types” of hitters: Singles Hitters, Power Hitters, and “Line Drive” Hitters, and in scouting young players, they all typically fall somewhere within these three categories. None are more or less important that the other, because in truth, a line-up needs all three to be successful.
A “Singles hitter” is typically a player who has a very short swing, terrific hand eye coordination, a small strike zone, and good to great speed. This player also usually exhibits a low finish to his swing in order to 1) create more ground balls, and 2) help them get out of the box quicker. If your son or daughter is small, and blessed with quickness, becoming this type of hitter this spring could really help them 1) get more playing time, and 2) help their team to accomplish their pre-season goals. This type of hitter is usually found in the 1st, 2cd, and 9th position in their respective lineups, and is typically known as a “table setter” or the “second leadoff.”
The second type is the rarest of the breed, the “Power Hitter”. There are very few true power hitters in the game today, which is why they demand the highest salaries at the Major League level (supply and demand). Typical attributes include big body types with long arms, a swing and miss mentality (meaning high risk/high reward), a flair for the dramatic, and a high finish (which encourages more fly balls). Everyone loves to see this guy hit, because he puts on a show that few forget. Typically, he is responsible for driving in runs for the team and can usually be found in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th spots of the lineup.
The third and final type of hitter is a “Line Drive hitter”, and is the most common of the types. In scouting young players, most kids fall into this category. Typical attributes include medium to normal body size and speed, good hands defensively, and great discipline at the plate. In other words, they are just “good baseball players”; i.e. “doubles” power, very few strikeouts, and an innate ability to situational hit (meaning they hit and run very well, they drive in runs, move guys over, etc…) If you son is this type of player, he usually fits into a lineup best in the 6th, 7th, and 8th spots, and there is no shame in that. Always make sure to remind him that each and every lineup in America has a 6th, 7th, and 8th spot in it, and they all need great “baseball players” in order to fill those slots.
In taking a moment to discuss which of the three types your young hitter might be, in truth, you are asking him or her in the short-term, “how best do you help your team?” and in the long-term, “in what capacity are you going to maximize your talent?” As Coaches, we all need table setters, grinders, and someone who swings for the fence, so have this conversation with your players in order to help them find out what they can do best to 1) help them have a very successful spring, and 2) help their team win a championship!