RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Winning ballgames and performing towards "the win" depends upon pushing runners across base or keeping them off base. From what athletes do to how coaches coach - it all is focused upon the base paths.
Keeping runners on or off base hinges upon the 4.3 sec run time. Fielders are trying to throw runners out. Pitchers are trying to keep runners off base. And hitters are trying to reach base. For coaches, their line ups, defensive sets, and pitching choices are all trying to keep base running statistical advantage in their team's favor.
And training is no different. From projecting to performance, it all hinges upon how to reach base or keep the competition off base.
This is the "why" behind tools, mechanics, and more. The 4.3sec run time to first should determine all you do on the field and in your training.
Although pitchers can have success with limited velocity, throwing harder does help considerably. Think of it this way:
1. If pitching relies upon missing barrel, your pitches must overmatch the hand speed that gets the barrel to the baseball.
2. If pitching hinges upon missing bats completely, the more speed differences you have between pitches, the more often you miss bats.
3. The higher you move up in game level, the faster it becomes. Therefore, hand speeds and swings become quicker. Likewise, you must have pitches that either match or OVERMATCH these offensive tools - or you will see diminishing success (based upon the previous level).
To put it into common sense terms, the hitters swing harder, have more power, and can wait longer on pitches. If your pitch velocity allows for this, you will see an increase in hits against you at the next level.
The idea is not to miss bats, but to miss barrel. Any good pitcher tells you that they are trying to throw 3 pitches or less to a hitter and are pitching to contact.
Command creates opportunity to miss barrel more often. And the slower the batted baseballs, the more opportunity you have to pitch with no one on.
HAND SPEED AND POWER MATTER
Although statistics do not lie, they often mislead. Batting averages at the next level usually drop due to increased speed, range, and arm strength in the field.
For example, if a shortstop has more range (at the next level), the "see-eye grounders" you got at the previous level most likely would be outs now. If the weakly hit bloop singles at the lower levels are falling in for base hits, they most likely would be outs (at the next level) because of faster outfielders.
Basically, you must do something differently at the next level to combat the greater defenses - and it all hinges upon power and hand speed. If you hit the baseball harder and further, you move the baseball past the increased speed and range of the defense.
Common sense says that if you want to get on base, you run faster than the time it takes the defender to throw you out. Therefore, if defenders have increased their range, arm strength, and defensive speed - you need to either run faster or hit the baseball where they cannot get to it.
This is why you see home to first runtimes decrease as you move up in level. At the MLB level, averages are 4.3 seconds, with 4.1 seconds being in the line up at multiple spots.
In order to keep performance potential high, you must match the game speed of the level you are at or want to be at. For pitchers, it is all about missing barrel, and the harder you throw commanded pitches, the less runners you will have on.
For hitters, the more you can overmatch pitch velocity and gain plate coverage to combat command, the more you will see yourself on base. Additionally, if you run faster, you will beat throws out.
Train TO the game, not just the game.