About that “hardly ever strikes out”
Last weekend I was watching a college fastpitch softball game on TV (surprise surprise) when one of the announcers started talking about how the current hitter rarely strikes out. This is one of those statements I’ve heard a number of times through the years, and while it seems to impress a lot of people I have to admit I’m not one of them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of or in favor of striking out. But then, I’m not in favor of any type of out, and that’s what a strikeout is – an out.
You can make an argument that it’s better to put the ball in play because something still might happen. You can advance a baserunner, or maybe even get lucky with an error. And all that is true.
But if those things aren’t happening during your at bat then it really doesn’t matter whether the out is a strikeout, a popup, a ground ball or something else.
Here’s how I look at it. If you have a high batting average or OPS and low strikeouts, that’s impressive. But if you have a low batting average or OPS with low strikeouts, it’s not such a big deal. You may not be swinging and missing, but you’re not exactly crushing the ball either.
Not striking out can be accomplished simply by being very conservative with your swings. A slow, careful swing aimed at “just making contact” will help you avoid striking out. But it’s not exactly going to drive the ball into the outfield either.
Sure, you’ll manage a few flairs, a duck snort or two, maybe even a ground ball through a pulled-in infield. But you’re going to make it too easy for your opponents to get you out.
I’d rather see a hitter be aggressive, with an intention of hitting the ball hard, than laying back just trying not to strike out. Sure, you’ll miss a few. But the odds are a lot of good things will happen along the way. Better things, in fact.
In most games you only get a few swings at most. Be sure you’re taking advantage of every one of them. That way, if you’re ever on TV, the announcers will have more to say about the things you do than the things you don’t do.