Rick S.: Hey, Jim. Thanks for having me on the show again this week. I got your questions this week on switch-hitting. I, myself, for one, was a switch-hitter way back when and didn’t really teach myself to switch-hit, other than experimenting with it a little bit in some practice stuff or playing around, around the house. But I didn’t become a full-time switch-hitter till my freshman year in junior college. There wasn’t, at that time, hitting instructors or coaches and things like that. You just kind of went out and folks told you to hit the ball on the ground or run and use your wheels and stuff like that. So, basically, I was kind of a self-taught switch-hitter.
Ended up being a fairly productive guy at junior college and went on to Division 1 baseball at Austin Peay State University and then on into the minor leagues with the Yankees as a switch-hitter. I would have to believe that the opportunity to play infield, outfield, and switch-hit was kind of an attractive thing for the Yankees to look at and pursue at that time with me. But looking back on it, I have to tell you that I was probably a much better hitter from the right side, my natural side. For myself, I think I just became a below-average offensive player because I wasn’t really able to focus on my skills from the one particular side. So, I’m kind of uneven when it comes to switch-hitting.
Do colleges and schools look at it? I think, yes, when the kid can be coordinated enough to be able to do the efficiently from both sides. I think at the college level it’s probably a little bit easier to do it. The pitching is not as tough as people may think, at the college level. So I think really good athletes, really good athletes that are really coordinated from both sides, can do it. Should you start doing it as a youth? Again, I’m probably the wrong guy because my opinion is that I would really hope and work for the kid to actually become very, very good from one side of the plate, become an above-average hitter from one side. Usually you won’t see, even in the history of baseball, that there are not many guys — go look at the number relative to how many guys who switch-hit — how many guys have actually been really, really good at it, being able to do both ways.
Really, when you see them at that level, that are even good, you see the splits on each side, there are dramatic shifts. So you won’t see a guy who’s hitting 300 from the left side turn around and hit 300 from the right side. It’s just rare that that happens. There’s too many right-handed pitchers out there, so you get a lot of work from the left side. So usually most hitters who are natural right-handed hitters, if they switch-hit, they will become better at the left side because they spend a lot more time practicing it from the left side, than they do from the right side.
So those are the issues that I see with the switch-hitting side of it. Key people are certainly welcome to work on it and continue to do it, but remember this, you have a non-dominant side, from one perspective. You actually have to train the brain to actually be able to create two pulling actions from both sides and give it the ability to turn the hands on and turn them off.
That’s my take on switch-hitting. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions at: rickstricklandbaseball.com or on my Twitter account at: @SwingRehab.com. Jim, it’s always a pleasure being on your show. Can’t wait to talk to you guys next week. Thank you.