Everyday players can trust that they will see a good number of pitches over multiple at bats during a ballgame. They have standard routines and approach the game for the longer haul.
Pinch hitters, on the other hand, are often called on infrequently and need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Getting ready for a pinch at-bat is a complicated thing that can involve stretching, swinging, studying and reading a variety of cues about game situation – all in order to generate peak performance within a tiny window.
Source: Andrew Simon’s “The Post Game” article “How MLB’s Best Pinch-Hitters Prepare To Thrive In their Limited Opportunities”
The job is not an easy one. Pinch-hitters must ready themselves physically and mentally for an at-bat that could come at any moment — or never. Not all hitters are capable of this – nor are many fully willing to embrace the role.
It takes a different mindset and approach all together. Pinch hitters are generally more aggressive at the plate, as they don’t have the time to see pitches and get behind in the count.
Many anticipate a particular pitch early in the at-bat…and when they get it, they swing with authority.
However, before a pinch-hitter can worry about when to swing, he must get his body ready for the task. This means getting loose and limber, sometimes more than once during the course of the game. The player might stretch, run, ride a stationary bike, and take a good number of practice swings.
Some take time before and even during games to utilize the batting cages situated near the dugouts in many ballparks. They take cuts off a tee or tosses from a coach or teammate. They spend time during this session visualizing the upcoming at-bat – “seeing” their success with the pitches that they expect.
The big takeaway here is that these MLB hitters know and embrace their roles – and take an aggressive mind set to each pinch-hit at-bat.
Younger players should do the same!