Many of our younger readers probably have no idea who Sandy Koufax was but all of us old fossils certainly know all about the man who many thought was the best pitcher to ever throw a baseball.
His career was cut short by injuries and the lack of medical knowledge that keeps so many players playing today There’s no doubt that he was amazing.
Koufax shared a statement that I think really applies to our game when he said, “I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.” Now I know pitchers’ parents everywhere are thinking that this is blasphemy or crazy talk but there is a lot of wisdom in what Koufax is saying!
Too many pitchers (and their parents) think that the only success is a strikeout. The out isn’t the desired outcome as much as the strikeout is the real goal. They are willing to throw 10 or 12 pitches to chase strikeout rather than throw one pitch and get a ground ball out. This leads them to work a whole lot harder than they need to and, usually, walk a lot more hitters because they don’t attack the zone.
When a pitcher pitches to contact they are more likely to get ahead of the hitter and be able to dictate the outcome of any at bat. The thing that you need to know about Koufax is that he did get a lot of strikeouts but they were the result of him going right at hitters basically daring them to hit his stuff. Wouldn’t it be nice as a pitcher to be in control and pitching ahead in the count the majority of the time?
What is the perfect inning for a pitcher? Koufax would say three pitches and three outs. The amazing thing is that by taking that approach he became one of the most dominant pitchers ever! Now if we can only get a few more softball pitchers to understand that concept!