Most people have the assumption that all those first inning runs are given up due to, poor pitching warm up and pre game jitters of the pitcher, before he “settles in”.
I do agree that most coaches do have a poor warm routine but thats not the only thing. Most runs are scored in the first inning in the “show” as well. So that mans either there arent any pitchers who know how to warm up correctly or this is may be caused by other factors.
SO WHAT IS IT??
The lead off man!
To me, there is no replacing a solid lead off hitter. I got A LOT of slack over the past summer, because I wouldn’t change mine out.
As a youth coach, I quickly saw the importance of scoring first. Scoring first is the number one key to success at the youth level. Scoring first is the moral boost that the boys need to relax and have fun. We NEVER lost a game where we scored first. We did give up leads, but in the back of their head, the boys new that they could beat the other team and regain the lead.
I have coached 3 teams in the last two years and Ive had two different lead off guys. One of them hit .567 and .438 as lead off and the other hit .381. Both these players earned their spots and deserved to stay there.
As a coach you only have ONE chance, to have the batters you want to start an inning. Its possible to catch it later in the game, but rare. As a coach, you have to take advantage of this.
I use a slightly different batting order then most, but my record would support how it works.
- Is the best (gets on)
- Is my bunter and speed guy (gets the ball down and makes a close play at first)
- My second best (RBI guy, NO FEAR)
- My other bunter and speed guy
- My Second RBI guy
- My “all around” average guy
On the normal youth team, we carry 12 guys, so this order is somewhat mirrored to the second half.
#1,3 are non changeable (unless earned by another teammate)
#2,4, get rotated through with proven bunters and speed guys. If these guys cant get the bunt down or move the runner, there’s no advantage of the lead off.
Your probably wondering why a bunter is hitting clean up! Let me break it down.
- #1 gets on, #2 moves him over (both these guys are the “table setters”). #3 drives one or both of them in
- Then we have #4, move #3 around, so # 5, can drive him in
- #6-8 are my average guys who can do both (bunt or hit)
- #9,10 are again my RBI guys, to help turn the line up over to the top.
Later I will break down how to be aggressive on the bases.