Get in Game Shape

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What can Save you at the Plate

What can save you as a hitter when all of your fundamentals are out of whack?

You are not in a slump or a "dry period", but you're not feeling well up at the plate, or you are facing a real tough pitcher. Like when I faced Phil Kniekro!

Well I am going to give you a safety valve to go to when this happens at the dish.

Your safety valve is your "Head".

When things feel wrong at the plate, keep your head and eyes on the ball a little longer than normal. Over exaggerate your head and eyes on the ball as long as you can.

The Hit King, Pete Rose, followed the ball from the pitchers release point to the catchers glove almost every time when he was at the plate. Recent Hall of Fame 3rd baseman Wade Boggs did the same thing. They would track the ball all the way into the catchers mitt. This technique gave them the feeling of seeing the ball longer, therefore they could stay on the ball longer and make solid contact instead of getting out in front.

In my many, many years in baseball, observing hitters constantly, these two guys stayed on the ball longer than any other hitter I have ever seen.

Oh yeah, there is one other hitter I can think of that did the same, and that is future Hall of Fame 1st baseman Frank Thomas, (The Big Hurt). He really Kept his eyes on every pitch thrown to him.

Keeping your head and eyes on the ball as you approach the pitch, will cure a lot of mistakes you make at the plate.

No one is perfect, but everyone can keep their head down when they hit.

I will cover this theory at a later time in more detail as we continue our journey to become a consistent and dangerous hitter.

My goal on this site is to "Condition you to Hit", like you've never hit before. Remember, when all else fails, Keep Your Head Down and eyes on the ball!

Let me know how this tip helps you!! Leave a comment for me.

Stay Focused
Mike "The Hitman" Easler

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Love and Hate

Hello Hitters,

A while back I asked The Hitman who he loved to face and who he hated seeing on the mound. Here are Mike's answers. Enjoy

In baseball there is always one pitcher you love to face, and then there are one or two pitchers you hate to face.

When I was in the Big Leagues, the pitcher I loved to face was a guy named Scott Sanderson. He pitched for the Montreal Expos. He was a tall lanky pitcher with an over the top, explosive arm.

He had a big overhand curve ball and a straight change up. But for some reason I could really see the ball well off of him.

I got a surprise start in 1980 against the Expos and Scott Sanderson was on the mound that day. I didn't really play that much at that stage of my Major League career so I was somewhat nervous. It was a cold rainy day in Montreal and most of the veterans, had the day off. I was hitting 5th and playing left field.

I ended up going 4 for 5 with 4 RBI's and 1 towering home run.From that day on, every time I faced Scott Sanderson I seemed to get 2 or 3 hits and a bunch of RBI's. It was just one of those things in baseball. He was a good pitcher, but I just saw the ball better off of him then I did against other pitchers.

Now, on the other hand, the pitcher I hated to face was Hall of Fame pitcher, Phil Niekro. Phil didn't throw more than 84-86 miles per hour, if that but he gave me fits.

His knuckle ball jumped around like a drunk'en butterfly. He threw it soft, and he could throw it hard. All I know is, it was very tough for me to hit. After facing him it seemed like I was in a minnie slump or (dry period) for about a week. I hated facing Mr. Niekro.

My wife Brenda hated seeing me face him too. When we played the Atlanta Braves she would say jokingly, Phil Niekro is pitching this series you better get ready! I would just shrug my shoulders and say, I am going to get him this time, yeah right, I never did.

I am sure many other batters struggled against him too. That is why he enshrined in Baseball's Hall of Fame.

That's the way it goes in this game. Some guys you love to face, others you hate. No matter what you do you just can't hit them. I would just spread out at the plate and think "hard contact" and hope for the best!

Keep posting those comments and asking your questions!

Stay Focused
Mike "The Hitman" Easler

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Break out of a Slump

When you play the game of baseball long enough, you will eventually hit what baseball players call a "minor slump".

When I played I called my called slumps a "dry" period. The word "slump" just sounds to negative. But, we will all go through them as hitters.

The only two hitters, I think, who never went through a minor slump are Ted Williams and Pete Rose. Just kidding!! I'm sure they had their 'dry" periods too.

I am going to give you some advice that I received from some of the "old school" players back in my day. My dry periods didn't last long once I applied the advice I was given. I was back to being the "HITMAN" real quick!!

Some of my old teammates said when you are struggling up at the plate, try to widen your stance and think about driving everything hard up the middle. Simple as that.

To many hitters over swing and try to do to much at the plate when they are struggling up at the plate. You must simplify hitting when you are struggling. Remember, keep it simple! just shorten up on the bat and try and drive everything straight up the middle.

This allows you to keep your head, shoulders and eyes on the pitch being thrown. You can practice this by setting a batting tee up at home plate and try and drive everything right over the 2nd base bag, and to straight away center field.

Second, you must stay "aggressive" at the plate when you are struggling. Don't become to "passive" at the plate. If you are too passive then the pitcher will beat you with "mediocre" fastballs. Try to stay up the middle and stay aggressive.

Also, try to slow the game down by "slowing your mind down". Don't try and do to much, just concentrate on hitting the ball on the nose.

As we say in the Big Leagues, just try and square the ball up on the barrel of the bat.

So, next time you hit a "dry" period, think about getting a little wider in the box, choke up some on the handle and think about driving the ball up the middle.

Work on this with a batting tee. Keep making swings until you hit every ball up the middle!

Please leave a comment if you have questions about breaking out of a slump!!

Stay Focused
Mike "The HitMan" Easler

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Conditioned to Hit

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to let our loyal readers know that Mike and I are busy working on a hitting and conditioning book, titled "Conditioned to Hit".

This book will be available very soon (hopefully). Once it's ready, I will provide you with all the information you will need to purchase.

In the mean time, please check out It's only 1$ to try it out for 14 days! You can get tons of ideas and ask questions on the message board, even ask direct questions to me!

Also, coming in the next couple of days will be an interview I did with the Hitman. Find out some cool things about Mike, hitting and who the best hitter of all time was/is.

Lastly, with the book nearing completion, please leave a comment with topics you would like to see covered. We want to cover all the bases!!


Stay Strong,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Check Up

Hello Hitters,

I just wanted to post a quick note and tell everyone to start watching MLB and study your favorite hitter.

If you have DVR, it's even easier to record some at-bats, then rewind them and go over the swings again and again.

Hope everyone is having a great season so far!

Please let me know what you would like to improve on, or if you have questions about hitting. Leave a comment and I'll get it answered for you.

Stay Focused
Mike "The Hitman" Easler

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lower Body Power

Flexibility equals power

If a hitter is not flexible at home plate his swing will be long and lethargic. Otherwise, 'no bat speed'. A "stiff" bottom half will cause a "stiff" swing, and a lazy swing,simple as that.

If you want to maximize your bat speed, learn to become more flexible with the lower half of your body, mainly through your hips and legs.

I would like to allude to another sport and make my point about how flexibility produces power. UFC fighters are always in an "athletic and flexed" position as they walk around the ring, ready to strike their opponent. Flexibility allows fighters and boxers to generate tremendous punching power from the ground up (hips and legs). The same is true for hitting. Bat speed is dependent upon how flexible and balanced your stance is.

Flexibility also allows you to hit the off speed pitch. You will be able to go down and get a nasty curve ball or change up that is breaking away from you. It is very similar to bunting. To bunt a pitch low in the strike zone, you must be flexible enough to get the bat head on the same level as the ball.

I have a favorite saying that I use with some of my Major League Hitters. " If you drop the pistons, (your legs), the power will flow like a river". Dropping the pistons is just another word for being flexible.

Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Matt Holliday, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Suzuki Ichiro, just to name a few, are some of the most flexible and successful hitters you will ever see. Just study their swings and you will see the proper use of their lower bodies being "perfectly balanced and flexed” .

Once you understand the importance of flexibility throughout your swing, you will be amazed at the bat speed you can generate. Always remember, " Power comes from "within"your body not from "without". Use your lower body to generate power!

Proper use of your legs will generate more power than you have ever felt before in your career. Just ask the 2008 American League MVP, Dustin Pedroia. For a smaller player he is pretty "powerful".

Stay Focused
Mike "The Hitman" Easler