Take a Strike?

There are a lot of clichés in baseball.  One that makes me cringe, especially at the youth level, is the coach that tells his hitters to “take a strike”.

When you come to the plate, you have three strikes to work with.  If the pitcher paints the inside corner on a pitch that would have jammed you anyway, I have no problem with the hitter taking it with less than two strikes.  It is a borderline pitch that the umpire may or not call a strike.  The important thing to remember is that this is the hitter’s decision.  He should be looking for a pitch to drive.  If he wants to use one of the strikes by taking a borderline pitch to start the at-bat, fine.  But I am never going to tell one of my hitters to give away one of his three strikes.

I rarely give the take sign on a 3-0 count.  I hope that I have taught the players to be smart and disciplined at the plate.  Most of them will take the pitch anyway.  But again, I want it to be their decision.

The bottom line is that you only get three strikes per at-bat.  Why give one away for free?