Hitting in Neutral Counts
Neutral Counts: 0-0, 1-1, 2-1, 0-1, 3-2
Neutral Counts generally refer to counts where neither the pitcher, nor the hitter has a serious advantage.
Hitting Approach: We are looking for patterns. When you are not up, watch the at-bats and try to see what the pitcher does in certain counts. Usually, pitchers will get into routines of throwing the same pitch in certain even counts. Find the pattern and go to the plate hunting for that pitch in neutral counts.
0-0 : Our approach here should be to look for a specific pitch in a specific spot. For instance if your first 2 at-bats against a pitcher started off with an 0-0 curveball down the middle, go up to the plate sitting on a middle-middle curveball your next at-bat. 0-0 we are focused on hunting patterns, and if the pitch is not the one you are hunting, or not in the right location, then take the pitch and reassess.
1-1, 2-1, 0-1: In these 3 counts our approach changes slightly. We still have a few strikes to play with, so our mindset is still in attack mode. In these counts we are looking to sit on a certain pitch, but not necessarily the location. A lot of young pitchers when they get ahead 0-1 will throw an off-speed pitch, so in this count it is perfectly ok to sit on off-speed if the pitcher has shown you a pattern. It is important to note however, that we are not guessing or reacting to the pitch yet. Step in the box looking to hit a specific pitch in the strike zone. The mindset being “I am hunting a fastball in the zone” not, “I am hunting an inside fastball to pull”. The difference is subtle, but with 1 strike we are opening up our approach to cover a wider range of pitches.
3-2: This is a tough count, because you are one pitch away from getting on or getting out. Our approach has to be “I won’t get beat with a fastball”. If the pitcher flips in a 3-2 breaking ball then good for him, but we certainly are not sitting on that pitch here. Sit fastball, attempting to see it deeper and drive it up the middle or away. This extra time will allow you to adjust to a breaking pitch and battle it off if need be. If we are too fastball and pull side aggressive we won’t have the time to react to a breaking pitch. Think driving a fastball middle-away, and be ready to adjust.