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3 MEASURABLE TOOLS

By January 31, 2017 Blog
3 Measurable Lessons in Baseball

Copyright © 2013 Amateur Baseball Players Association. All rights reserved. Amateur Baseball Players Association.  All Logos are trademarks of Amateur Baseball Players Association. The material in this document is for information only and is subject to change without notice. While reasonable efforts have been made in the preparation of this document to assure its accuracy, changes in the training approaches can be made without reservation and without notification to its users.  All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the ABPA.

3 Measurable Tools: Where you need to be

Every baseball player that begins playing in t-ball has the dream of playing college baseball and then in the Major Leagues. Baseball is the greatest game in the world because EVERY player that begins playing at age 5 has a CHANCE to reach his goals. Baseball is NOT a sport where you have to be 6’9” or 235 pounds of pure muscle. It is a sport where hard work and perseverance along with a little bit of athleticism can take a player to the top!

If you want to reach the top, you need to understand what you need to do and the skills you need to possess to get there. There are FIVE tools that make up every baseball player. They are:

  • Hitting for Average
  • Hitting for Power
  • Arm Strength
  • Fielding Ability
  • Speed

Without at least an AVERAGE skill with each of these tools, you will struggle to play collegiately. The more tools you can possess that are considered above average to “plus” the higher level you will be able to play and the easier it will be for you to achieve those levels.

The question becomes “How do I know where my tools stand in comparison to where they need to go?” Two of these tools “Hitting for Average” and “Fielding Ability” are much tougher to judge and usually require either a scout or someone that has a lot of experience with judging baseball players to give you their honest assessment.

What this guide will focus on, however, are the three other tools that are measurable and what your measurements should read if you want to play at the HIGHEST levels.

What are the 3 measurable tools?

The three measurable tools are:

  • Bat Speed (Hitting for Power)
  • Arm Velocity (Arm Strength)
  • 60 Time (Speed)

We will discuss each tool and what numbers you should be aiming for to play at different given levels of baseball.

 

Measurable Tool #1: Bat Speed

The first “Tool” that college coaches and professional scouts look for is “Power” at the plate. Power is not necessarily just home run power, but it can also be gap to gap power.

Every hitter that wants to play at the college or professional level needs to possess the ability to at a minimum drive a baseball over the outfielders heads in order to keep them honest. Anybody, whether you are 5’5 150 pounds or 6-5 225, needs to be able to do this.

What brings about power? The ability to generate max velocity of the bat head as well as make contact with the baseball in the right sequence where your body allows you to “hit behind” the baseball.

How you can judge power:

The two easiest ways to judge what kind of power someone has are:

  • Watching their batting practice session: A guy with great power is going to have baseballs “jump” off of his bat. His balls will also carry much farther than you would expect. Instead of a line drive being caught by the left fielder, it will carry over his head and short-hop the fence.
  • Exit velocity of the ball while hitting off of the tee: This is my favorite tool to determine where a player is in relationship to other players I have coached. The exit velocity of a baseball hit off a tee is something that EVERY player can do to give himself an idea of where he stands in comparison to different levels of hitters. By standing with the Stalker radar gun behind the tee, you’ll get an accurate reading of the player’s “bat speed.” To get an accurate reading, make sure you are using decent baseballs as well as a WOOD bat.

There are obviously other factors that go into making a great hitter, but bat speed is definitely the most important. You don’t always have to have “Plus” power, but you have to have at least average if you want to be a good hitter. Even the “slap” hitters, like Ichiro, have the ability to hit a baseball a very long way in batting practice.

Here are measurements for different levels of players:

  • Average High School: 80 MPH+
  • Good High School/Average Non-D1 College: 85 MPH+
  • Minimum D1/Good Non-D1: 90 MPH+
  • Average D1 starter/Fringe Pro: 95 MPH+
  • Good D1/MLB Prospect: 100 MPH+

 

Measurable Tool #2: Arm Velocity

Arm strength, in my opinion, is the easiest tool to develop as well as the easiest to spot. Before each game, as well as before each inning, every player plays catch. EVERY time you play catch, it is an opportunity to show off your arm strength.

There are three different factors that coaches look for when determine arm strength:

  • Velocity on the gun: The measurable reading you can take is the velocity on the gun. You need to have someone hold a stalker behind (or next to) the person you can throwing to in order to get an accurate reading.
  • Carry: As you watch someone throw from their position, coaches and scouts will look at what kind of “carry” the ball has. This is obviously affected by velocity, but a short stop that has a strong arm will not have a thrown ball that starts to drop before it hits first base. His ball will stay true and may even appear to rise. The same can be said of a An outfielder with carry will have a ball that looks like it has a second gear when it’s half way there. Instead of beginning to die, it will continue the rest of the way.
  • Amount of Effort: The last thing someone looks at is how much effort you look like you’re exerting during your throw. Two players may throw 90 MPH, but one makes it look easy while the other makes it look like it is at 100% effort. The easier you can make it look, the better!

Here are measurements for different levels of players:

Infielders:

  • Average High School: 75 MPH+
  • Good High School/Average Non-D1 College: 80 MPH+
  • Minimum D1/Good Non-D1: 85 MPH+
  • Average D1 starter/Fringe Pro: 88 MPH+
  • Good D1/MLB Prospect: 92 MPH+

Catcher:

  • Average High School: 70 MPH+
  • Good High School/Average Non-D1 College: 75 MPH+
  • Minimum D1/Good Non-D1: 78 MPH+
  • Average D1 starter/Fringe Pro: 80 MPH+
  • Good D1/MLB Prospect: 85 MPH+

Outfield:

  • Average High School: 75 MPH+
  • Good High School/Average Non-D1 College: 80 MPH+
  • Minimum D1/Good Non-D1: 85 MPH+
  • Average D1 starter/Fringe Pro: 90 MPH+
  • Good D1/MLB Prospect: 95 MPH+

 

Measurable Tool #3: 60 Time

The third tool that is measurable is speed. The first “event” done at any event or showcase is the 60 yard dash. Guys that are fast are able to shine right away. However, just because you cannot run a 6.5 60, doesn’t mean you can’t possess good speed.

I would break speed up into two distinct parts:

  1. Top-end speed: This speed shows well in an event like a 60 yard dash, where the runner has a lot of time to get his body moving. This is one of the main reasons why the 60 can sometimes be misleading. A guy may have unbelievable speed from 20-60 yards, but when does he ever have 20 yards to get moving.
  2. First-Step: The 2nd part of speed, the part that I would consider the most important, would be the 1st step. If a player has a great first step, he is able to cross over and be at full speed virtually right away. To me, the first step is a much more important factor in baseball. Players with a great first step can be great base stealers and defenders. Having an above average first step can make a runner who is an average 6.9-7.1 into a plus player.

Speed is measured by running a 60-yard dash. When you do this, you need to start like you are stealing a base, crossover, and sprint the 60 yards.

Here are measurements for different levels of players:

Infielders:

  • Average High School: 7.4 sec
  • Good High School/Average Non-D1 College: 7.2 sec
  • Minimum D1/Good Non-D1: 6.99 sec
  • Average D1 starter/Fringe Pro: 6.8 sec
  • Good D1/MLB Prospect: 6.6 sec+

Catcher:

  • Average High School: 7.5 sec
  • Good High School/Average Non-D1 College: 7.5 sec
  • Minimum D1/Good Non-D1: 7.3 sec
  • Average D1 starter/Fringe Pro: 7.2 sec
  • Good D1/MLB Prospect: 7.0 sec

Outfield:

  • Average High School: 7.3 sec
  • Good High School/Average Non-D1 College: 7.0 sec
  • Minimum D1/Good Non-D1: 6.8 sec
  • Average D1 starter/Fringe Pro: 6.7 sec
  • Good D1/MLB Prospect: 6.5 sec +

Sliding Scale

The above numbers are obviously NOT set in stone. A player that has well above-average numbers in one tool can be slightly lower in another. These numbers are guidelines to give you an idea of where you stand in comparison to other players that play your position and are playing at the level you WANT to play.

If you are not at one of these levels, don’t get discouraged! Every one of these three tools is improvable with a ton of hard work. I have seen players go from a 7.6 60 yard dash to a 6.8 in 6 months. I have seen velocities and bat speed jump 10 mph in a year.

However, if you don’t put in the hard work, I can almost guarantee you the jump will NEVER come!

For more specifics about HOW to develop these tools, check out our “Complete Guide to Player Development,” which is included with your ABPA Membership, by clicking here.

Thanks!

 

-Tad