It seems like every year there is one interview that runs on MLB Network that sparks new conversation in hitting. There was the Josh Donaldson interview where he tells young hitters to say no if their coach tells them to hit the ball on the ground, the Nolan Arenado interview where he states that he doesn't want to hit the ball to the middle of the field because that where the best athletes are and this year the most talked about interview has been this Joey Votto interview.
Joey Votto is, in my opinion the most underrated hitter in the game today. This interview has a ton of great takeaways.
1. Launch angle is important but doesn't tell the whole story
Votto states that while Donaldson is correct in not trying to hit the ball on the ground, just trying to drive the ball in the air may not be the best approach for alot of hitters.
I agree, and this is why the first thing I tell hitters is that our goal is to hit line drives. After all the major league average on line drives is over .700 and is below .215 for both fly balls and ground balls. Nothing novel here, but what he doesn't touch on is how to hit line drives. The reason that I advocate for players to try and hit the ball in the air to is create line drives. Most hitters stay too flat with their bat path and using the mindset to drive the ball in the air can help create a path that produces more line drives. Check out my article on what happens when I have Hit Trax HR Derbies here.
2. Look for positives in non productive at bats
Votto states that one season his best game was an 0-6 day against the Cubs. He felt like even though he was getting out, he was striking the ball well and that it was only a matter of time before the ball started falling. This is a huge takeaway for younger hitters. Often times we get very hung up on how each at bat effects our batting average. Look for positives in each at bat even if it results in an out.
3. Treat each at bat as a separate event
Joey Votto has one of the highest first inning batting averages in the history of the game. However, if hes not successful in his first at bat, he doesn't let that carry over into his next at bat. This can be a very hard thing to do but is something that high level hitters have the ability to do. Often times if we get out in the first at bat, we press in the next at bat and get away from our game plan at the plate.
4. Let the ball be your guide
The most important thing that we can do as a hitter is hit the ball hard, consistently. Hard line drives are what successful hitters get more often than lower level hitters. If a mechanical adjustment helps you do that then stick with it. If you are not squaring the ball up and hitting hard line drives, make an adjustment. Let the ball off the bat lead you to the adjustments you have to make.