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An Overlooked Element for Successful Hitting

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

Detroit Tiger slugger, Miguel Cabrera, is one of baseball’s all-time greatest hitters. His 2012 and 2013 seasons rank as two of the most prolific offensive seasons in the history of the game.

For the record, Cabrera is a lifetime .315 hitter over 17 seasons (many of which have been impacted by injuries). He’s also hit for power, swatting 477 career homeruns.

What is the difference between Cabrera and the 15,213 others who have played major league baseball?

In 2013, my good friend, former Detroit Tigers Hitting Coach, Don Slaught wanted to find out.

After extensive film study and sitting down with Miguel to examine his hitting process – Slaught discovered a key element that defines Cabrera’s success.

Simply put, Miguel Cabrera’s recognition and processing skills are superior to his peers.

Think of your brain as a computer. It can upload information (game experiences, practices, training) and then applies what is learned into real-time scenarios.

For any hitter, the ability to recognize such things as pitch location, pitch speed, and pitch spin are critical to delivering the bat on-time and on-point.

Miguel Cabrera stated to Slaught that he recognized what pitch was coming and where it would track just prior to the pitcher releasing the ball.

How is this possible?

Cabrera’s brain works like a high-speed processor. He’s able to (i) recognize the pitch based on the pitcher’s grip and arm slot and (ii) he’s able to quickly transfer the visual cues into usable information that supports his decision-making.

How can athletes improve Recognition and Processing Skills?

1. Play. There is no substitute for game experience. The more we get – the more we enhance our recognition and processing skills.