By Rod Carew
Rod Carew was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. He won seven American League batting titles and retired with 3,053 career hits. One of baseball's most sought-after hitting instructors, Carew has seen players such as Jim Edmonds, Garrett Anderson, Troy Glaus, Darin Erstad and Torii Hunter blossom under his watchful eye. Rod’s useful hitting tips on becoming a great hitter will appear regularly at www.rodcarewbaseball.com.
Across the springs, summers and autumns – after all the seasons and over all the years – countless styles, methods and theories of how to hit a baseball and how to be a successful hitter have developed.
Unfortunately, some instructors remain limited in their knowledge and, hence, can limit you in your approach to becoming a standout hitter. Some may preach “top hand, top hand,” a reference to rolling your top hand over as the barrel of the bat makes contact with the ball. Another may preach keeping your weight back – and then others will say keep your weight forward. Even more will focus on pulling the ball or going with the pitch or going back up the middle.
Obviously with that many different theories, there are numerous ways to do things. In reality, you can learn a little bit from many different people and theories.
Fundamentals and experimentation are absolute, but one approach is certainly not…every person and, indeed, every hitter is unique.
Just as there are different approaches, there are different types of success as a hitter. There are power hitters who put up big-time home run numbers, but strike out a lot. And, of course, there are .300 hitters who are equally effective driving in runs, but aren’t necessarily doing it with home runs.
Throughout time, there have been plenty of examples of players (Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Eddie Murray and Albert Pujols), who have showcased the ability to be both a power hitter and a contact hitter.
Just as there are a myriad of approaches to becoming a skilled hitter – and it’s so very important in choosing the right one to suit you – a hitter, a good hitter, must also choose the right pitches.
For me, knowledge of your own hitting zone is more important than knowledge of the strike zone. Just because a pitch is a strike, doesn’t mean it’s a good pitch to hit and, often times, it’s better to take a strike and wait for a pitch you can handle.
Ultimately, not everybody can hit like a Hall of Famer. And much of that is because everybody must find their own road to success, their own approach. But while everybody’s different, the same basic fundamentals and hitting philosophies apply.
After all those seasons and over all those years, I’ve seen thousands and thousands of good, not-so- good, and great hitters. I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, and I’ve tried to understand success and failure through hours of work and experiment, refining my own techniques.
In the end, I’ve developed a few basic beliefs. You can read about them here at rodcarewbaseball.com and practice your approach, whatever it may be, on the GAPHitter.