MMO Fanpost: Anatomy of an At-Bat!

An article by posted on April 28, 2011

* * * Metsmerized Fan Post * * *

Submitted by Metsie

For months now I have tried to explain the concept of aggressively protecting the plate with two strikes. The concept is pretty simple. In any at bat you start off:

1 – You look for your pitch or a pitch you can drive and swing. (This is a key part no matter what the count!)

2 – Take whatever balls the pitcher presents to you until you have two strikes against you.

3 – Swing at pitches (with two strikes) that are close enough to call a strike and make enough contact to at least foul it off.

4 – Rinse and Repeat #3 until the pitcher throws an irrefutable ball or makes a mistake you can drive.

The idea behind this concept and why it works and is important is also simple. The whole purpose is to take fate out of the umpires hands so he can not punch you out on a borderline strike, and to see as many pitches from a pitcher as is possible in order to tire him out and hope he makes a mistake that you can crush.

Pitch Sequence:

Daniel Murphy, Top of the 8th, Two Outs, Score 2-1 Washington

  1.  80 Changeup Ball
  2.  80 Changeup Ball
  3.  93 Fastball (Four-seam) Foul
  4.  93 Fastball (Four-seam) Foul
  5.  93 Fastball (Four-seam) Foul
  6.  81 Changeup Ball
  7.  94 Fastball (Four-seam) Foul
  8.  82 Changeup In play, run(s)

Two Changeups – Murphy went up there looking for a fastball. What he got were two changeups that were outside of the zone. He waited, count 2-0…

First Fastball – He takes a good hack but just a bit behind. Count 2-1.

Second Fastball – Take another hack, Timing was good but was a little under it. Count 2-2 Defensive mode starts.

Third Fastball – (Could have been called a ball) Murphy actually is too fast on this pitch and fouls it off. Count still 2-2.

Another Changeup - This one in the dirt. Murphy takes the pitch Count 3-2.

Fourth Fastball - At 94 mph, the fastest pitch in the AB. Murphy is actually too fast on this one too but gets enough to foul it off and extend the AB. He decides that because he has seen so many fastballs and has had no problems catching up to it that he can wait a little longer in his timing and try to identify the pitch. This is only possible when you have had 7 Pitches and 4 fastballs to look at.

Final Pitch Changeup - Murphy identifies it because he has seen plenty of pitches and has his timing on the pitcher down pat, the pitch is a mistake with too much plate. Murphy crushes it! Game tied should have been Mets up by one if not for a bad Umpire call!

This at-bat is a classic example of aggressive plate protection that forces the pitcher to either fool you or wait for you to make a mistake. If you stay under control and don’t make that mistake then at some point the pitcher will tire out or make a mistake that leads to a very good hit. By fouling off close pitches you remove the ability of an umpire to make a bonehead call like was made in the case of Reyes last night and your fate is pretty much determined by YOUR ability, not someone else’s inability!

If you want to be a champion and win games you almost have to will yourself to do so. The Mets after being fired up by a bad call on Reyes and Murphy’s excellent batting approach did just that last night!

On a side note (because I know the replies will try to say this about me) You should read my past posting regarding Murphy, the glove and offense over fielding before you make some dumb uninformed post regarding my love of Daniel Murphy.

So far all of his mistakes have been in the fielding which is expected from a player who has the lack of experience he does at his assigned position. We saw this presented with his lack of covering second in the bottom of that inning – where if he had they might not have tied the game. But if he continues to hit and approach his hitting in the manner he exhibited in the 8th inning last night, then those mistakes are not an issue and in time they will even go away as he learns the position.

It was a good win for the Mets, and a GREAT at bat by Murphy.

If guys like David Wright and Ike Davis (who has improved in this area) learn to start protecting the plate with two strikes on them and forcing the pitcher to throw more pitches, that will lead to more hittable pitches and wins like these will not be a rarity, they will be the norm!

This was a Metsmerized Fan Post submitted by one of our readers. If you have an opinion that you want to share with thousands of other passionate Mets fans, you are invited to submit a post by clicking here.

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