Farnsworth: Ground balls: A hitter’s best friend?

From Dan Farnsworth at The Hardball Times on February 11, 2014:

Hitting the ball on the ground creates something of a dichotomy for hitters and coaches. Some demand it, trying to put pressure on the defense by forcing more fielders to handle the ball on each play. A ball in the air can be caught for an out, but a ball on the ground requires a catch, a throw, and another catch to retire the batter. Others would like to hit everything in the air because there is only so much damage that can be done by a ground ball. With these conflicting beliefs, it may be difficult to understand what approach is truly best for all hitters, or each individual hitter.

Confusing things further, both of these camps often will talk about using the same swing to get opposite results. You can swing down to hit the ball on the ground, or you can swing down to produce backspin and hit it in the air. It seems irrefutably silly that both of these philosophies are alive and well in the baseball world, at all levels (including the highest levels, by my sources). Not only is this a paradox, but it is also the wrong kind of swing altogether. Swinging down greatly reduces the chances of squaring a ball up when the timing of the swing is not perfect, which is something we’ll look at later. First, let’s focus on balls after they have left the bat.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/ground-balls-a-hitters-best-friend/

Originally published: February 11, 2014. Last Updated: February 11, 2014.