Over the last few years baseball has undergone major changes that many fear are for the worst.
Coaches have traded out traditional approaches to hitting and manufacturing runs in favor of home runs which are few and far between.
One of the biggest issues plaguing the sport is the rapid growth of strikeouts and Clemson was no exception this season.
Hall of fame head coach Jack Leggett noticed the increased strikeouts for the Tigers this season.
The former Clemson coach knows that needs to change as current head coach Monte Lee aims to get his team back in position to compete.
“They need to put more balls in play and I would say that about any team that struck out a lot,” Leggett told The Clemson Insider. “If you put more balls in play more good things are going to happen.”
This season Clemson recorded its lowest team batting average since two decades before the introduction of the aluminum bat to college baseball in 1954 this season as it hit .257.
The Tigers also recorded the third most strikeouts in a season with 521 in just 52 games and the most strikeouts per game with 10.
Clemson simply struggled to put the ball in play this year and Leggett feels the difference in approach is a huge indicator for how a team performs on the field.
“You have to move runners around and if that means hitting behind runners, getting bunts down, starting innings off with base hit bunts,” Leggett said. “Because of all the shift now there are a lot of avenues on the field that are being left open where you can start innings off and I’m not sure teams do that enough.”
For Leggett, small ball and base hits are still the recipe for a successful baseball team to win games.
The teams that bunt and take advantage of defensive shifts by putting pressure on infielders manufacture more runs.
“It’s just like in basketball or football the more pressure you put on the defense the more pressure you put on the other team, the more mistakes they are going to make which gives you more opportunity to score and have people on base,” he said. “Some things there probably could have gone a little bit better for them.”
The strikeout is the biggest challenge facing baseball today as it hopes to appeal to a new audience in the social media age. And the problem isn’t limited to the Tigers or even the college game but is an epidemic in the MLB as well.
Last season the MLB set a record in the worst way with a 23.44-percent whiff rate and the league is on pace to best that record in 2021.
Leggett thinks the change in the game has been exacerbated with people focused too much on the analytics and overcomplicating America’s pastime.
“I think it’s because of a little bit of analytics and people have gone to that avenue a little bit too much in my opinion,” Leggett said. “It still comes down to pitching, throwing strikes, playing really good defense, putting balls in play, you can’t strike out, you have to play as a team consistently every day on the field.”
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