How To Get Hit by a Pitch:
In the 3rd inning of Monday's game, Anthony Rizzo got hit by a pitch but didn't get awarded first base. Let's talk about it (again).
How to Get Hit By a Pitch:
Before reading this post, I highly recommend reading my article from Tuesday afternoon about Anthony Rizzo's attempts to get hit by a pitch on Monday night. It will provide all the necessary background.
Now that we've been over the three things that Anthony Rizzo did wrong in his efforts to get a free base during the game on Monday night, today I'll reveal to you how you can correctly lean into a pitch without it being called against you.
If we watch this clip of Michael Conforto (see tweet below) and this "leaning into pitches" compilation (video 2) we can get a clear example of what Conforto did right and almost everybody else (but, somehow, Jose Tabata...) did wrong.
The first thing is that Michael Conforto does right is leaning in with the right body part. By leaning in the arm/elbow, it sets up Conforto much better to get in the way of the pitch. It's much easier to move a body part that should be naturally moving as a pitch is coming in. The lead arm is, in every at-bat, moving and rotating and changing angles of attack for the bat. What Anthony Rizzo did wrong was leaning in with his front/lead leg, which often has very little (if any) movement after the plant to prepare for a pitch.
The second thing that Michael Conforto does right is staying with and following through with the pitch. As he moves his arm into the path of the baseball, he doesn't just hold his elbow out. As seen in the compilation (above), if the player sticks out their elbow (or leg, as Rizzo did) and lets the ball hit them without movement the umpire will (rightfully) see this as an attempt to get hit. Conforto continues to move and rotate with the pitch as it moves into his elbow and past him
The third thing Conforto does right is by getting hit by as little of the ball as possible. While he moved into the plane of the ball, he did so the right way by getting it to just scrape by him. Not only is this beneficial to avoid any potential risk of injury, but it also allows him to make even less of a motion towards the pitch and to be closer to his traditional movements. Again, Rizzo really made it that he got all of the pitch and did an unnatural movement. It was crystal clear to be his fault.
The final thing Conforto does right is that he "tries" to pull his arm away at the last minute. Even though he was making slight movements towards the pitch and did everything else right, this is the part that sells the performance. It makes it appear that all those other movements were in preparation for hitting and not for the pitch itself as he makes it look like he was really trying to get out of the way.
It's really a thing of beauty, and it's why the call was not overturned. Conforto did everything right.
The Oddities of Getting/Avoiding A Hit by a Pitch:
There used to be an conceited effort to hit batters in baseball. Now that that practice has ultimately died out (outside of a few isolated instances each year), there is now an art to hitting a batter. Given this propensity to no longer have the hit-by-pitch be an intentional and signaling move from an opposing pitcher, today's batters should learn how to turn these tides in their favor.
Now that we know the delicate balance of nature of how to get hit by a pitch- use your elbow, move with and through the pitch, get hit as little as possible, and attempt to pull away at the last second- we can examine the oddity of how getting hit by a ball goes.
Pitchers in the MLB throw fastballs, comfortably, at speeds much faster than 100 miles per hour. It's expected you get out of the way of these pitches when they are close. If we look back to the video of players getting called for leaning into pitches you can see that none of these pitches came on a fastball. The fastball is not a pitch to get hit by. For the ultimate reason that a player must have to have insane reaction times to be able to pull off correctly leaning into a fastball, nevertheless the fact that fastballs often don't end up in the right plane for the pitch to be close enough to get towards. Add in that the projected path of a fastball can be easily tracked (it's a straight line), it also makes it easy to avoid any wild/erratic fastballs. Even with the speed. Players can get out of the way.
However, pitchers also throw curveballs at speeds as low as 70 miles per hour. It's also expected you get out the way of these pitches because they have movement, yet that movement and slower speed is why, on this type of pitch, is exactly why players try to get hit by these pitches. It makes sense. They can try and play it off better that those pitches- which were thrown purposefully to have crazy movement- were thrown wrong. Even when they otherwise would've ended up over the plate had the player not purposefully intervened.
Understandably, this is and will always be the case. It seems so obvious and easy to try and get hit by the slow moving target. But, it's a very tough thing to pull off.
But, again, this is what Michael Conforto did right: he leaned into a slider that was coming high and in. Nobody ever tries to get hit by a slider.
Deception at its finest.