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Guest Kevin P

Slot Position - Batter Hugs Plate

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Guest Kevin P

I struggle to see the pitch when in the slot position and a batter hugs the plate (ie edge of batters box) and has hands over the plate.  Especially right hand batter/right hand hitter and left hand batter/left hand hitter.  I lose the sight of the ball through the entire path which only gives you a small amount of time to determine the ball over the plate.  I know you are only calling the pitch where it crosses the plate but is it important to see the entire path?  Also, if so where do you position or how do you combat this issue?

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This is one I've struggled with - and still do - and there's no one single good answer. Many have success moving lower or back or both, but I found those mess me up even more. Except in the most egregious cases, I've found that - for me - the best solution is to simply stay in a locked hands-on-knees and trusting that the ball will appear. It's not the best way probably, and it's caused more than one anxious moment, but I've found that it's the worst way to do this for me, except for all the other ways. It puts a premium on timing, as you'll need to really focus on the last part of the ball flight. And admittedly, watching the glove and seeing how/where it's caught. Which probably means that it's best for HS and above only. I dunno, I'm still on the journey of figuring this out myself. I've noticed that it's predominantly an issue for LH batters, not sure why.

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The most common suggestion I have received is to move your head height UP. You may lose the low pitch, but you will see the ball for more of its flight.

I see more and more hitters with their hands out away from their body and over the plate.  This really makes it difficult to pick up the ball out of the pitcher's hand.

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I would add -- call the inside strike*.  It will move the batter off the plate and then you can see again.

 

* -- I do not mean "call a ball a strike just to get the batter to move."  Many umpires describe their zone as something like "nothing on the inside, but two balls on the outside."  If that's the case, change your zone to "one ball in and on ball out."  It's the same width, but you will be able to see better.

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2 hours ago, conbo61 said:

The most common suggestion I have received is to move your head height UP. You may lose the low pitch, but you will see the ball for more of its flight

+1. Having a catcher set up inside and a batter on the plate makes things a bit more difficult.  I try to get as high as I can over the top of the catchers helmet.  At least in this position you can see down at the ball.  Trying to get into the slot is pointless as you really cannot see anything. 

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I also inject into the hitter's lame logic that he's giving up some protection by leaning over the strike zone.  

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ugh....I hate this!!!!!!  happens all the time, and I don't understand why batters want to crowd the plate :HS 

Anyhow ... I move up and back just a bit, but I try to see the release (even if I'm not in the slot) and then move in w/ the pitch.  NO, it's not ideal I know, BUT ...you have to see the release!

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2 minutes ago, Thunderheads said:

ugh....I hate this!!!!!!  happens all the time, and I don't understand why batters want to crowd the plate :HS 

Anyhow ... I move up and back just a bit, but I try to see the release (even if I'm not in the slot) and then move in w/ the pitch.  NO, it's not ideal I know, BUT ...you have to see the release!

Batters do it to mess with the pitchers head. When I was coaching I always told the pitchers that the plate was theirs, fire away and if you hit the batter in the arm/hand, that is on them. 

It is a challenge to get a good view of the pitch, I either hang in and try my best to get a view of the pitch or move up and over a bit as a last resort. 

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10 hours ago, noumpere said:

I would add -- call the inside strike*.  It will move the batter off the plate and then you can see again.

 

* -- I do not mean "call a ball a strike just to get the batter to move."  Many umpires describe their zone as something like "nothing on the inside, but two balls on the outside."  If that's the case, change your zone to "one ball in and on ball out."  It's the same width, but you will be able to see better.

Isn't this also exacerbated by the catcher setting up to receive an inside pitch...so, if you are an ump who never gives that inside pitch, the catcher is going to learn and move over, no?  Or is the catcher pretty irrelevant to this problem?  (remember, not an umpire - my umpiring experience is volunteer/informal/untrained, so I can guarantee you my positioning behind the plate was wrong)

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The catcher can make it more difficult, but it's mostly perception.  If the catch is inside, you can still see the glove and that section of the plate.  WHo cares if you can't see the outside corner -- if the pitch is over there, the catcher will move and then you can see.

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While up and back is a viable solution, I have had instructors offer something else.

Most say that a consistent view of the zone is best, so have a view that does not change with the batter. To that end, some suggest to get your head just above F2's shoulder and move up to be close enough to see the plate in what many call the super slot. I use this all the time and by being below the batters elbows all the time, I don't need to make any adjustment when any batter gets up on the plate

Since I have moved forward and down, my strike zone is much more consistent.

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I've been instructed by some of the same guys as @Kevin_K. I'm not a fan of "up and back". That puts you in a bad spot to get clobbered by foul balls. I try to keep my head on the inside corner of the plate, and below the batter's hands. In, and as low as I need to get a look. If it's real bad, I might be able to talk with F2 between batters and tell him "hey, If you set up a bit less inside I'll get a better look that those close pitches." Seems to work for me.  

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4 hours ago, beerguy55 said:

Isn't this also exacerbated by the catcher setting up to receive an inside pitch...so, if you are an ump who never gives that inside pitch, the catcher is going to learn and move over, no?  Or is the catcher pretty irrelevant to this problem?  (remember, not an umpire - my umpiring experience is volunteer/informal/untrained, so I can guarantee you my positioning behind the plate was wrong)

If I get crowded I tap the catcher on the shoulder to let him know I want to see that pitch so I can call it a strike.  I tell him to give me a little room and catch it for me and I'll call it.  Never had a catcher complain or question that logic.

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On 4/23/2018 at 8:20 AM, conbo61 said:

The most common suggestion I have received is to move your head height UP. You may lose the low pitch, but you will see the ball for more of its flight.

I see more and more hitters with their hands out away from their body and over the plate.  This really makes it difficult to pick up the ball out of the pitcher's hand.

Exactly. This happened to me the first game I did this year. I would see the release and try to slide over a bit before it reached the plate. Then I said to myslef I am just going to take more of an angle and try and pick it up.

I did indicate to the base umpire to pick up the balks because I could not see it.  The hands and arms were over the plate so I knew if it hit him he was in the zone.

Catcher was very good so he moved (without me saying a word) to the outside corner and called for the pitches inside.  I guess I cheated then if the catcher had to reach across his body to his left, it was a ball.

 

Was this the wrong approach?

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If by sliding over you mean that you move away from the slot and more over the plate I would caution you to not do so. Moving over will put you in the kill zone

01-a-slot-ump.jpg

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On 04/23/2018 at 8:20 AM, conbo61 said:

The most common suggestion I have received is to move your head height UP. You may lose the low pitch, but you will see the ball for more of its flight.

This is why I like down and in. I'd rather struggle seeing the release and keeping a good  look at the zone..A great line I remember from a clinic while working on this was.."Don't worry the ball will appear."

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2 hours ago, Richvee said:

A great line I remember from a clinic while working on this was.."Don't worry the ball will appear."

And another favorite of mine.... That sure sounded like a strike!

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