Tool #4 is a player’s ability to “Hit for Average.”
The best way I can explain “Hitting for Average” is that this tool is not just solely focused on a person’s batting average. This tool is more about having the ability to have a consistent swing, the ability to keep the bat on-plane for a long period of time, and the ability to square up baseballs on a regular basis. I wrote another article about having the ability to “Repeat Your Best Swing.”
Next to bat speed, a player’s ability to have a swing path that is on-plane with the baseball for a long period of time is the most important swing mechanic that he can possess.
What does having a swing on-plane with the baseball do for you?
It allows a player’s timing to be a bit off and still be able to drive a ball somewhere.
If the swing is on-plane early and the player is a little bit late on a fastball, he will still be able to hit a line-drive to the opposite field instead of either popping up or swinging and missing completely. If the bat is on-plane through the swing as well, a player that is fooled on a curveball will still be able to shoot the baseball somewhere instead of either rolling over or striking out.
It will also allow players to consistently “square up” baseballs.
Squaring up a baseball basically means hitting a baseball that flies on a good trajectory.
Watching a player in batting practice will tell you whether or not he can square up a baseball. If he is hitting one-hoppers through the infield that land in the dirt to line drives that are short-hopping the wall, he is squaring up the baseball. If he is consistently hitting balls that land within 45 feet of the plate or are high pop flies, his swing plane is not right and he will not be able to hit at a high level.
The best way to work on “Hitting for Average” is by hitting off of a tee or front toss.
When you hit off the tee, you should be able to hit virtually the same spot on the back on the net.
I like to hit off of a tee into a target at least 45 feet away. This will allow you to see the flight of the ball and know if you are striking it consistently the same way or if you are all over the place. With front toss, you should be able to hit every ball on the same trajectory. Players that come work with me for the 1st time usually hit about half of the balls within 20 feet of the plate usually slightly to the pull side (a rollover).
Without doing anything else, I know that the swing path is the 1st thing that needs fixed!
A player that can combine a ton of bat speed with being on-plane for a long period of time is a guy that has the potential to hit in the big leagues!
Have a plan to improve your swing everyday, set your routine and repeat it daily. That is the ONLY way to become a great hitter!