Sunday, February 1, 2015

How to Properly Evaluate an At-Bat

(Credit: Cleveland Daily Banner)

After every turn at-bat a hitter grades his own performance. It seems fair to assess that much of the time this assessment is emotional. A hitter may acknowledge frustration with a grind of the teeth or an angry grunt. Success is found with a fist pump or an aggressive shout.

Upon returning to the dugout, every hitter has an opportunity to digest the at-bat. Are his thoughts on controllables? Uncontrollables? Does he know why he hit the ball hard? Does he know why he feels tense or loose?  Without an idea of how to grade an at-bat, hitters are left with nothing but emotions, inevitably clinking up toward the top of a dangerous coaster that speeds downward with no control. Crash and burn.

On Opening Weekend, a coach might return home wondering what each hitter thought about their first opportunities. Each weekend, only a hand full of the hitters likely feel as though they achieved a desired result.

But what are the best measures of a hitter's success? Remember that, at Lee University, we measure OPS, QABs, 567s and base running with our Base Running Efficiency chart. While those are process-oriented within a season, they are still result-oriented in relation to at-bats. That's not good enough.

Here are a few ways to grade your at-bats. Try them this week.

On a scale of 1 (not at all/wow that sucked) to 10 (outstanding/excellent/superlative), honestly assess each question.

1.) How well did you see the baseball?

  If you aren't seeing the ball clearly and easily, you are likely tense, not breathing properly or need to have your vision checked.

2.) How in control of myself was I?

You cannot control your performance until you are in control of yourself. - Ken Ravizza

3.) How good to hit was the pitch at which I swung?

  This question could be preceded by, "did I get a good pitch to hit?"

4.)  How hard did I hit the ball?

  When swinging, consistently hitting the ball hard is the goal. No less, no more.

5.) How high was my competitive energy during the at bat?

  Every coach in the country wants a team full of great competitors. Every teammate in the country wants to know his teammates will fight like mad to win.

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