Hitter’s Approach in Different Situations With Situational Hitting

By doconnell •  Updated: 07/23/14 •  7 min read

Baseball Coaching Tips for a Hitter’s Approach to Situational Hitting

For each at bat, a hitter has a job to do and that job could be very different from plate appearance to plate appearance based on situations. Let’s take a look at some Baseball Coaching Tips for a Hitter’s Approach in Different Situations.

In order to be successful in situational hitting, a batter must first understand the game situation and then adapt their approach at the plate accordingly.

There are three types of game situations:

Runners on base,

Runners in scoring position,

Behind in the count.

#1 Bases Empty

With the bases empty, the batter’s number one objective is getting on base. Even a power hitter with home run power may want to take that approach going into the at bat. There are some situations in which a coach or even the individual batter may want to gamble and attempt to drive the ball with no one on base especially with no strikes. The decision to gamble will most likely be based on the quality of the opposing pitcher or quality of a specific pitch.

#2 Runner on First

The approach a batter takes with a runner on first will vary based on number of outs. With no outs or one out, a batter can choose to simply attempt to move the runner along by slapping or bunting the ball to the right side. The approach can also vary based on number of strikes. For example, with no strikes or one strike, the batter could choose to try and drive the ball. With two strikes the batter could become more defensive and just simply try to put the ball in play. With two outs, the batter has to take a little more aggressive approach and try to get the ball through the infield by driving the ball. A defensive at bat with two outs could result in a force out to end the inning. However, with two strikes, a batter may be forced to become defensive because a ground ball is much better than a strike out that ends the inning anyway.

Hitting with Runners on Base

This video will go into the mindset that a hitter should have during an at- bat when there are people on base. A hitter’s mindset varies from base to base, pitch to pitch, so watch and learn some helpful tips to help yourself get some hits and move those runners over and into home plate.

#3 Runner on Second

With a runner on second, the batter’s goal is to at least advance that runner to third. Again, the approach will vary based on number of outs and strikes. If the runner reached base by a hard hit double, the batter’s approach may be aggressive. This is an example of a team having a “killer instinct”. Stringing hits together can be mentally damaging to a pitcher and successful offensive teams are able to capitalize on a pitcher who has become vulnerable.


A slash is performed often when we have a runner on 2nd base. It’s done in this situation because when performing a slash the hitter turns to bunt to then make the 3rd baseman react and come in leaving 3rd base unoccupied. This allows the runner at 2nd base to advance on a steal because he is out of position. Meanwhile the hitter returns to his hitting stance and then can choose to hit the ball or take a pitch if the runner does have the open bag at 3rd base. This video demonstrates how a slash is done.

#4 Runner on Third

With less than two outs, a batter’s approach with a runner on third should be to drive the ball. A deep fly ball at the very least will score the runner from third. With two outs, a batter’s job in this situation is a lot more difficult and will become even more difficult with two strikes.

#5 Runners on First & Second

With runners on first second, a batter’s approach can be patient or aggressive. If the pitcher has just walked consecutive batters then patience could reward the offense with a bases loaded situation. If the pitcher has given up back to back hits then the batter should be aggressive because this pitcher is probably “on the ropes.”

#6 Runners on First & Third

With runners on first and third, the batter’s approach should be aggressive to score the runner from third. With less than two outs, the batter should attempt to drive the ball. At the very least, the runner on third can score on a deep fly ball.

#7 Runners on Second & Third

Overall, the batter’s approach with runner’s on second and third should be aggressive. However, with first base open, the pitcher may attempt to use a little wiggle room to use the corners of the plate and other borderline pitches. A little patience could be used to attempt to draw a walk to load up the bases.

#8 Bases Loaded

This is a no brainer in the world of baseball. This is when a batter’s “killer instinct” should take over. The overall goal should be to drive the ball in the hopes of scoring multiple runs. Again, at the very least, a deep fly ball scores a run and possibly moves the other runners up a base.

Hitting for Power

This is going to be where you capitalize at a hitter, when the bases are loaded! Watch our video and get some helpful tips on how to drive in runs and get extra base hits. It all begins with good hitting mechanics.

#9 Ahead in the Count

The “hitter’s count” is generally considered to be 3-0 or 3-1. The pitcher more or less has their back to the wall and has to throw a strike. Throwing a strike becomes even more important based on number of runners on base already. The more pressure that the pitcher has to throw a strike, then more of a chance that the batter can sit on a juicy “meatball” that they can drive.

#10 Behind in the Count

Generally, with two strikes a batter will have to become defensive and the goal is to simply put the ball in play. However, situations can become very complex in baseball and it’s not always that simple. For example, even with two strikes a batter will not want to ground into a double play with the best batter on the team waiting on deck.

Final Thoughts

The game of baseball is probably about 10% physical and about 90% mental. A hitter’s approach is a great example of what makes baseball a thinking game. What approach a batter takes is not always black and white or right or wrong. A batter can go into an a plate appearance with a game plan that can drastically change from pitch to pitch and a lot of times instinct will take over.

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