05-12-2013, 02:39 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Hamilton, OH
Re: choking up to make contact...
Originally Posted by Norm Chortleton
False. False. False. I am linking a story that quotes current or former hitting coaches Greg Gross (Phillies), Terry Pendleton (Braves) and Lloyd McClendon (Tigers) as saying they encourage their players to choke up.
Here is an excerpt of the article:
“They have it ingrained in their head that they’re quicker that way (not choking up) and they have more whip that way and they have more power,” said Greg Gross, the Phillies’ hitting coach. “I don’t agree with it, but they don’t do it.”
Gross played several seasons in Philadelphia with Mike Schmidt, a Hall of Fame third baseman who hit 548 career home runs. Schmidt often tinkered with his swing and stance and made situational adjustments, including choking up when he had to make contact to move runners along. There are not many players who think like Schmidt these days.
“For most of the players today, a strikeout is just an out when it’s not an out,” Gross said. “That’s the way the game has evolved. You don’t have to move up very far on the bat and you have more control of the bat, and I believe you would have more times making more solid contact.”
Terry Pendleton, a longtime hitting coach for Atlanta and a former M.V.P. with the Braves, also favors choking up. He suggests it to hitters, but he is usually ignored.
“They still do what they want to do,” Pendleton said. “Pride has a lot to do it with it. I think it’s what they are most comfortable with. Let me put it that way: I didn’t have a problem when I had two strikes on me; I felt comfortable choking up. A lot of guys don’t feel comfortable doing it. A lot of guys, it’s out of their comfort zone.”
Like Gross and others, Pendleton says he does not understand why hitters do not try everything possible to improve their chances at the plate.
“It is a lost art,” he said. “It gives you better bat control, gives you an opportunity to wait longer for a pitch and gives you better opportunity to react to a pitch, but it doesn’t seem anybody wants to do it.”
In Detroit, Lloyd McClendon works with some of the best hitters in the league. The Tigers have Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the middle of their lineup and Jhonny Peralta batting behind them. McClendon tells his hitters to choke up at times.
“We really implement it with two strikes, choking up, spreading out and putting the ball in play particularly with runners in scoring position,” McClendon said. “Even Miguel Cabrera, who is probably the best hitter in baseball, with two strikes, he spreads out.”
“There’s a time with a runner on third, less than two outs and the infield back, you have to put the ball in play,” McClendon added. “We really stress that kind of ball.”
Choking Up Has Become a Lost Art in the Major League Batter’s Box
I never said there were not any coaches who like the choke-up. A few do, the large majority do not.
Just the fact that so few players choke up is proof positive that coaches no longer instruct their hitters to do it. For every player who chokes up there are twenty who don't. It simply is not a smart approach for most hitters, and that is why it is rare.