The game has not changed in the past 120+ years, but the athlete has gotten quicker, stronger, faster, and smarter - effectively changing the game PACE, meet the 4.3sec runtime.
TRAIN TO THE GAME, NOT THE GAME
Winning is the end result of any baseball game, if you want to win - you have to have baserunners or limit baserunners.
The entire game of baseball revolves around the 4.3sec runtime from home to first. Defenses are set to beat this analytic. Pitchers are trying to pitch against this analytic. And hitters are trying to match this analytic.
Although you should always try to decrease your 4.3sec runtime, matching it is the #1 focus during any training rep.
TRAINING OFFENSIVELY TO THE 4.3
Hitters can do many things to match or decrease their 4.3sec runtime. Literally, you must be 4.3 down the line, but there are many other things that can assist - if your actual running speed is not 4.3sec:
1. Increase hand speed to overmatch pitch speed. This allows you to hit barrel more often - resulting in harder hit baseballs that speedier infielders cannot get to.
2. Gain power to push fly balls past defenders with higher ranges. This increases your chances of not only getting on base, but increasing your slugging percentage.
3. Develop plate coverage to combat increased pitching command, plane, off speeds, and velocity. This gives you statistical advantage of hitting barrel more often.
4. Be on time and be ready to hit the fastball in any count. Again - gives you a higher chance to hit barrel.
TRAINING PITCHING TO THE 4.3
Although pitchers do not run bases (unless they hit), they win by keeping runners off base. To do this, you need more than just velocity:
1. Velocity increases pitch quality. However, it is relative. Meaning, hitters will catch up to your fastball at some point.
2. A 90MPH fastball is perceived to be 87MPH outside and 93MPH inside. Additionally, behind a breaking ball, it is harder. At some point, you have mix speeds to get hitters off the rhythm of your fastball velocity. Pitchers do this with plane, off speeds, deception, location, pitch reinforcement and more.
3. Overmatch hand speed with velocity so you miss barrel more often. Once they "catch up", slow it down and then speed it up. Climbing and descending the "velocity ladder" is what decreases hittability moreso than than anything else.
4. Develop command and off speed break to combat plate coverage. There is a saying at the upper levels of the game, "If you are sitting 90MPH, you cannot drive 85MPH." Meaning, you can hit 85MPH, but it is extremely hard to barrel it, and missing barrel is what great pitchers do - they pitch to CONTACT.
5. Increase your plane and decrease plane change between pitch types to combat power, hand speed, and hitter's ability to "sit on your pitches". This misses barrel more often. Velocity charts are extremely beneficial in understanding where "gaps" lie within your pitching abilities. Such are enhanced with plane and lack of plane change.
6. Be aggressive, work fast, pitch to contact, and be ahead in the count to stay in the game longer and force hitters to swing. Remember that hitters get themselves out by swinging at "pitcher's pitches", rather than "hitter's pitches".
7. The more pitches a hitter sees, the more dangerous they become. Statistics and Sabermetrics prove this. Examine the MLB batting averages for each count and you will see the correlations.
MOVING UP IN LEVEL REQUIRES MORE TOOLS
As you move up the baseball ladder, you find the game does not change. However, the pace of game increases, and this is why players get "squeezed" out of the line up.
For example, a junior varsity game is much slower than a varsity game. Single A baseball is slower than Major League Baseball - and so on.
The same swings, same pitches, same movements - but harder hit and thrown baseballs. Additionally, runners move quicker - all of which combines to decrease reaction times and increase athletic prowess requirements.
This is why statistics do not usually matter when projecting talent, as performance at the next level relies heavily upon whether an athlete can keep up with game pace - rather than performance base.
For example, if a HS pitcher is 10-0 with a 2.50ERA, he may not be successful at the next level if he is attaining these superior stats if:
1. He has slow velocity that cannot overmatch hand speeds of NCAA baseball.
2. He gets most of his outs by bouncing breaking pitches that inexperienced hitters swing at.
3. Cannot locate effectively, but is successful because lower level hitters miss more often.
Likewise, a high statistic hitter may be gaining success by hitting "seeing eye grounders" or weakly hit fly balls that fall. At the next level these would usually be outs because defenses are quicker and have stronger arms.
Although statistics do matter, they matter once you are in the system. To move up the ladder, you need to move quicker, stronger, and faster to ensure your performance meets game pace.