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Developing Hitters with Blast Vision and Data: Part 2

Premium Contributor – Brandon Matthews Brandon Matthews is the current hitting coach at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, Virginia. He has coached at many different levels of baseball including high school and college. He played collegiately at Chowan University and has been coaching baseball since he was 20 years old. Brandon is a proponent...
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coach1965

Premium Contributor - Brandon Matthews

Brandon Matthews is the current hitting coach at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, Virginia. He has coached at many different levels of baseball including high school and college. He played collegiately at Chowan University and has been coaching baseball since he was 20 years old. Brandon is a proponent of Performance-oriented & data-driven player development. On January 1, 2019, Brandon joined the Baseball Rebellion team as a writer and content contributor for Baseball Rebellion.

Reach out to Brandon on Twitter: @Bmatt0416

Blast Vision by Blast Motion is a game changer for developing hitters on a BUDGET. Blast Vision is a $10 app that records and tracks launch angle, exit velocity, and estimated hit distance of batted ball events. The app records this information using the camera of an iPhone or iPad. This allows coaches and players to have the same information that would normally require really expensive hardware and software.

Hitters can create a session each time they hit. During a session, each swing is video recorded and clipped with the metrics overlaid. At the end of a session, a spray chart is automatically created that links each batted ball location to the corresponding swing video and metrics. Additionally, the hitter's average metrics are automatically calculated.

Data is useless until it's put to use. So how is the information useful and how can you use it to develop hitters?

Launch Angle - Exit Velocity - Hit Distance

These terms are all directly related to each other. Exit velocity measures how hard the ball is hit off the bat. Launch angle measures the trajectory of the ball coming off the bat. These two factors create hit distance. Ideally, we want to discover each hitter's strength (peak exit velocity) and create consistency (average exit velocity) while hitting the ball (launch angle) with as much damage as possible. Along the way, we will also be able to identify possible weaknesses among our hitters.

Using information from MLB Statcast (Baseball Savant) we can find out what batted ball events produce the highest batting averages, slugging percentages, and weighted on-base averages.

For example, launch angles between 10-15 degrees saw some of the highest batting averages during the 2018 MLB season:

While the highest Home Run Percentages were between 25-32 degrees:

If we know a hitter's peak exit velocity (power ability) we can train their batted ball events to maximize their chance to get on base and do damage. A hitter who has a peak exit velocity of 85 mph and an average exit velocity of 75 mph would maximize his or her results in the 10-16 degree range.

A hitter who demonstrates more raw power and may peak at 100 mph while averaging 85 mph would do more damage in the 17 - 30-degree range.

Since Blast Vision records this information, we can use it to train and develop hitters accordingly while adding value and purpose to cage sessions.

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Premium Contributor – Brandon Matthews Brandon Matthews is the current hitting coach at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, Virginia. He has coached at many different levels of baseball including high school and college. He played collegiately at Chowan University and has been coaching baseball since he was 20 years old. Brandon is a proponent......
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Hitting Approach

coach1965

Premium Contributor - Brandon Matthews

Brandon Matthews is the current hitting coach at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, Virginia. He has coached at many different levels of baseball including high school and college. He played collegiately at Chowan University and has been coaching baseball since he was 20 years old. Brandon is a proponent of Performance-oriented & data-driven player development. On January 1, 2019, Brandon joined the Baseball Rebellion team as a writer and content contributor for Baseball Rebellion.

Reach out to Brandon on Twitter: @Bmatt0416

When hitters are not having success, the most common thing they think about or ask their coaches about relates to hitting mechanics. How does my swing look? Do you see anything wrong with my swing? These are questions coaches hear a lot, but they are usually the wrong questions. A hitter is only as good as the decisions he/she makes and this relates to having a good hitting approach.

Having a good swing is useless if a hitter has a poor approach and makes bad decisions. The strike zone exists so the hitter has a fair opportunity to hit the ball hard. Data collected by 643 Charts during the 2018 season of NCAA D1 baseball showed hitters hit a combined .183 with two strikes. Hitters usually experience poor results due to 1) taking a strike that should have been smashed 2) missing a good pitch to hit and 3) swinging at balls. The lesson here - your approach is as important as your swing.

Good hitters are selective aggressive hitters - looking to do damage within the first 3 pitches of an at-bat. Almost every pitching coach wants their pitcher to throw strike one and to get 2/3 pitches over for strikes to begin an at-bat. Hitters - you are going to get a competitive fastball to hit prior to two strikes, be ready for it and smash it! No one should be taking a pitch for the sake of taking a pitch.

Sometimes hitters simply miss, but poor hitters usually create their own lack of success by taking too many strikes - or chasing bad pitches. This is usually due to not having a plan at the plate. Trust can also be a factor. A hitter has to trust their plan and avoid self-doubt.

According to Dean Stotz, over four years of data with the Stanford baseball team showed that first pitch strikes occurred 56% of the time and 67% of first pitches were fastballs. According to Jerry Weinstein, almost 93% of first-pitch strikes result in an out and MLB pitchers throw about 57% first pitch strikes. An article at Baseball Prospectus states that 60% of MLB at-bats start with a fastball. It is easy to see why hitters should be ready to do damage early.

As I mentioned previously, good hitters are selectively aggressive. This means they are hunting zones where their swing plays the best and putting the brakes on anything else. For the most part, hitters should hunt the fastball early; however, information changes situations. If there's reliable information on a pitcher that likes to work off-speed for strike one then hitters should use that in their approach. Hunting zones can take away pitches and allows a hitter to be on time for the fastball but also prepared to hit a hanging slider in the same zone!

Hitters should self-assess their approach and evaluate their plan of attack. Am I taking too many strikes? Am I missing good pitches? Am I swinging at junk? How is the pitcher pitching my teammates? Hitting journals are great for hitters to document and reflect on this information.

Walk to the plate with a plan of attack, trust yourself, and look for a fastball to crush within the first three pitches!

Hope this helps.
See you on the diamond!
**If you want to talk to Coach Matthews more about optimizing your lineup, he can be reached at  bmatthews16@gmail.com or on twitter@Bmatt0416**

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About the author: Brandon Matthews is in his first season as an assistant coach at Paul D. Camp Community College, working with the hitters and infielders. He has coached at many different levels of baseball including high school and college. He played collegiately at Chowan University and has been coaching baseball since he was 20...
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