No matter what sport you watch or play, coaches will always have strategies to approach games to get a favorable result. In team games such as basketball or football, it may be a high-pressing approach to force the opposition into making errors and regain possession quickly. It could be that you play defensively and look to get your opponents on the counter.
In baseball, it’s just the same. Whilst players may not be rubbing shoulders with each other and chasing balls down, there are still strategies to help teams become successful. Just watch the 2011 film Moneyball, based on the true story of Billy Beane, head coach of the Oakland Athletics.
Beane hires an economics graduate, Peter Brand, who he hires to help him form a competitive team knowing they’re going to lose players on free transfers and only have a low budget to recruit replacements. They implement sabermetrics to assess the statistics of players and their on-base percentages to get under-valued players in who can compete and help the Athletics challenge for the American League West division.
And it has worked for them, and they still use those Moneyball tactics today. In fact, sabermetrics have been so successful, that except for the major powerhouses the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, the Athletics have more regular-season wins than any other teams in the American League since 2000. Showing that statistics are for more than just calculating betting odds, as you can check at sportsbookreview.com.
But besides sabermetrics, what are the most successful strategies in baseball? Well, let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
1. Pitchers – Switching it up
One strategy that works well for many baseball teams is seen as a defensive move by many, but can be an offensive move too. And that is switching up your pitchers, or even your pitcher switching things up.
For example, some pitchers have throws they specialize in, and these can be used to set up your defense. For example, a pitcher who throws fly balls means the fielders can set up in a way that they are in primed ready for the likely places the ball will go if the batter connects with the fly ball.
An example of it being an offensive move, is when you have one pitcher who is giving away too many runs. By bringing in a new pitcher who can throw some tricker plays like a fast ball or a curveball, you increase the odds of getting out one of your opposition.
It also helps to have either a pitcher who can throw with both arms, or multiple pitchers with some who can throw with their left and others who throw with their right. This can bring up more challenges for the batter as they don’t get too used to the same balls being thrown at them.
Another way to challenge the batters, and which can confuse them is switching up your throws. So if you throw a fastball, you make a motion to act as if you’re going to throw another, but mix it up by changing the throw at the last minute. Doing this for a slower throw for example, can cause the batter to swing early and they get a strike against them.
2. Batting – Knowing when to swing
There are several different strategies when it comes to batting, and we’ll walk you through them now.
Firstly, it’s good practice to study the pitchers so you can expect what throws are going to be coming your way. This will help you to guess when or when not to swing. It could be the difference of being striked out, or getting three foul balls which will allow you to walk to first base.
One tactic for batting is to hit and run. It’s basically a way of connecting with the throw to launch the ball somewhere on the field. Once connected, it’s time to run to first base. But this isn’t purely about you running, because there is a chance that you could be caught out, or fingers crossed, you hit a home run.
But the important bit is when you swing and connect, players on the loaded bases have a chance to run too. It’s slightly different to stealing bases, because you wait for the batter to hit the ball. If the ball is caught by a fielder, as long as the players on the bases make it safely to the base before the fielder catches the ball and throws it to the baseman, they won’t be out. It does potentially mean sacrificing your batter if they’re caught, but it’s another way of getting some extra runs when bases are loaded.
Another strategy is if you’ve less than two outs, and your bases are loaded, you have your batter bunt the ball. A bunt is when a player basically holds their bat but doesn’t swing, so when the ball is thrown and connects, it falls to the floor. This more often than not will mean the batter is caught out, but it gives the chance for players on the bases to make their way round and, possibly even get a run in the process.
3. Play sneaky
One of the final strategies that are used to help you win games is to play sneaky and steal bases. This is when a player on the bases makes a move for the next base before the pitch has even been thrown.
If successful, the players can make progress around the bases without anyone needing to bat. But if the baseman notifies the pitcher and they are able to throw to the base you’re heading to before you get there, they can get you out. And this can potentially cost you the game if your side has two outs already.
Therefore it is a risky move, but it’s one that can pay dividends if timed well and pulled off. Just be careful, you don’t want to try and steal a base and mess it up, as your teammates will likely see you as being selfish and costing them the game if you try it late on in the game and the score is close or tied.