Hit TV (feat. Kim Tae-gyun) Barry Bonds also started with patience￼
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Ilgan Sports publishes ‘Blowing TV (feat. Kim Tae-gyun)’ as a 2023 New Year series. Commentator Kim Tae-gyun, one of the best hitters in Korean baseball history, shares his theory and perspective on baseball, especially batting. Through this series, we hope that readers will share the fun of hitting and the depth of baseball. <Editor’s note>
Players and fans must have heard the phrase “get rid of greed”. It’s because it’s so important to bring up a story that everyone knows. It is important how to let go of greed, and what the method is.
Hitting is a fight against instinct. The greatest instinct of the batter is greed. The mind to hit, the determination to hit a home run, and the desire to win the team.
Why is this bad? It is the most important heart in the game. However, nothing can be done if the mind is ahead. Rather, unnecessary force is put in, and psychological pressure is exerted. The fear of failure grows in proportion to the desire to win.
If the hitter is not to be greedy, he must be ready before stepping into the plate. That’s training and strategy. More important than hitting is the process before hitting. I will fully explain this later. Just because you’ve finished your preparations and stepped into the batter’s box, don’t rush into it. And wait for a good ball to hit.
If you put up with 3, you hit 30%.
Hitters must control their greed to hit. In the first pitch, I tried to look at the ball. The pitcher against me knew that too. So the pitchers tried to catch more first pitch strikes. There were times when I aimed for it and hit it, but I mostly watched the first pitch.
The most important thing in the at-bat is to understand the pitcher’s condition. The pitcher I am facing right now is not the person of the past. The ball speed may have changed, and a new pitch may have been thrown. Even with the same pitcher you faced 20-30 minutes ago, it is possible that your pitching balance has changed.
So, I used my first pitch to identify the pitcher. I watched and felt the pitcher’s ball up close and adjusted the swing timing internally. So, is that enough? Maybe not.
If the first pitch was not a strike, the timing of the second pitch was also measured. If you look at one more ball, you can get more pitching information. Of course, the pitcher may throw two strikes first, both bravely and with precision. In this case, the batter is at an absolute disadvantage. So, depending on the pitcher’s inclination, it is necessary to swing from the 1st pitch or 2nd pitch. Even if the hitter attacks aggressively like this only once out of three or four at-bats, the pitcher’s head becomes complicated.
When I was at bat in my prime, there were hardly any good balls in the third pitch. Most of them were fastballs that went far out of the strike zone or breaking balls that ran away. Hitting became easier when I started by basically seeing 2-3 balls in each at-bat. Even if I had a spare ball count, I didn’t try to hit it. This is because the hitter only needs to aim for one good ball in one at-bat to produce a good result. Opportunities may come even after the 2nd strike.
Or getting a walk is a good match. If you get the pitcher to throw 4 or more balls and get on base, you’re contributing a lot to the team. Some people argue, “Because I hit number 4, I have to hit aggressively.” There are situations in which such an attack is appropriate, but there are many cases where it is not.
It is also a great strategy to suppress the desire to hit long shots and get walks. I really hated being out by hitting the first ball. I felt that I hadn’t done my duty faithfully. Hitting the ball doesn’t mean it’s a hit. Even if I hit the first ball and got a hit, I didn’t feel refreshed. Especially when the batting line of my team was weak, the attack was not very effective. This is because the probability of scoring a goal was low even if I stepped on first base.
Again, getting the pitcher to throw the ball a lot is a good strategy. I’ve seen the walk/at-bat % data of Major League Baseball (MLB) players. Ted Williams (20.6%), the greatest hitter in history, and Barry Bonds (20.3%), the record holder for the most home runs, ran first and second. Babe Ruth was third with 19.4%. The walk rate of Mark McGwire, who has a strong image as a home run hitter, also reached 17.2%.
The rate of walks among the best hitters in 120 years of baseball history is so high. It is necessary to dwell on the message that this record gives to others.
Use 70% of your strength to get 90% of
it. Next to ‘greed to hit’, what you need to throw away is ‘greed to hit hard’.
I don’t think you should swing with 100% power in a real game. There is a desire to hit the batter hard, so it is natural to use more force than necessary. Then you will overswing using 120% of your power. If unnecessary force is applied, the swing rhythm is broken and the bat does not turn quickly. In addition, the swing spreads out and the timing is delayed.
I tried to use only 60-70% of my strength at the plate. I felt like I was actually using 80-90% of my power only when I was conscious of it. First of all, you need to relax your muscles and balance your lower body first. And it is more effective to focus on the timing and trajectory of the swing.
It doesn’t mean take it easy. It’s about using your power well. This is true for pitchers as well as hitters. The same goes for golf and other sports. You can see it in boxing or mixed martial arts. Clenching your fist and hitting it doesn’t make it a hard punch. His punches, like lightly punching bread, are fast and accurate.
Having played baseball since the 4th grade of elementary school, there is no way that I would have listened intently to the physics class. Still, there is a very basic physical law that I learned while thinking about hitting. Force is the product of the mass of an object and its acceleration (F=ma). The bat’s weight (m) and its acceleration (a) determine the power of the swing.
The important thing here is that in order to maximize force, we need ‘acceleration’, not ‘velocity’. In order to do that, you need to relax your body a little and increase the speed of the bat in the area where it meets the ball (contact zone).
This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Powerful hitters are plentiful, but hitters who effectively use that power to hit the ball are rare. There is a saying from long ago, “It takes 10 years for a rookie hitter to come to the pros and relax.” I think that’s really true.
The reason I got good grades in professional baseball wasn’t because of my strength. There are plenty of players who have a better physique than me, and players who have more power than me. However, I realized earlier than others that I need to lose my strength. I was pretty good at baseball when I was in elementary or middle school. He always ran as a starter. When I came to the pros and was about to retire, I was told that I couldn’t hit a home run, but when I was an amateur, I hit it hard. Hit a home run almost every game. 메이저놀이터
I was worried at this time. Do you hit harder or more accurately?
I concluded that there was no need to hit hard. When I tried to hit it hard, I used a lot of unnecessary force in my body and I would swing wrong. Then my pride hurt. He didn’t like to be seen that way by pitchers. He can hit a home run with a good swing and good timing even without putting all his effort into it.
So my goal became to not swing wrong. Waiting for a ball I can hit well and making a good swing, that was the best I could think of. If you pick out the bad balls, one or two pitches per at-bat will land in the middle of the strike zone. He began to gain recognition from his teammates and coaches as he hit the ball straight through the middle without missing it and made a good hit. Through this process, my batting style was created.
Wait for a good ball to hit well.
The next thing to throw away is the greed of ‘I will hit all the balls’.
Even if it is a strike, it is difficult to make a good batting ball if you hit a ball that flies near the border line. Balls that are tight to the body, balls that hang slightly outside, and balls that are too high or too low are difficult to make contact with. It is also difficult to put power on the batted ball. Not all strikes are the same. You can make a strong hit only when you hit the ball that is a strike toward the middle of the zone.
There were a few times when I fell into a slump after coming to the pros. To overcome that, I checked my swing and analyzed my hitting video. Still, there were times when I couldn’t find the cause of the sluggishness. One day, director Kim In-shik gave me a clear answer.
“Do you know how to play these days? hit the ball I mean strikes, not balls.”
It’s something you would say to an elementary school student, but director Kim In-sik’s point was very accurate. There were many times when the reason for the sluggishness was not the swing, but the attempt to hit the ball (or a strike close to the ball).
Looking back at the video when I was in bad shape, my bat was chasing the ball. There were a lot of things I was swinging at bad balls because I was in a hurry. There were many cases of missing pitches that came to the middle if psychologically driven. Then, a vicious cycle was created in which a bad ball was thrown out again.
I realized that it is important to control my mind until a ball I can hit well comes.
KBS commentator, summary = Reporter Kim Sik
Ilgan Sports publishes ‘Blowing TV (feat. Kim Tae-gyun)’ as a 2023 New Year series. Commentator Kim Tae-gyun, one of the best hitters in Korean baseball history, shares his theory and perspective on baseball, especially batting. Through this series, we hope that readers will share the fun of hitting and the depth of baseball. <Editor’s note> Players and fans…