Is it more important for a pitcher to be able to hit all their spots? Or, is it more important to throw hard with nasty off-speed? All of this depends on a number of different things: age, experience, level, and skillset. Generally speaking, the harder you throw, and the more your off-speed pitches move, the less command matters. The softer you throw and the less your off-speed pitches move, the more command matters.
Before getting further into the topic, I would like to explain the difference between command and control. Curt Schilling said “Control is the ability to throw strikes. In the big leagues, everybody has control. Command is the ability to throw quality strikes”. To be more precise, control means you can throw it over the plate, and command means you can throw it to quarters of the plate.
Where you are at in your career matters when asking this question. If you are a college senior looking to get signed by an MLB team, stuff matters significantly more. Taking a young kid in the draft that throws hard and has plus off-speed is a much easier decision than a soft throwing kid that can command pitches. The harder throwing kid with plus stuff projects much higher. However, as you continue to climb the ladder and get closer to the MLB the more command matters. A commonly known saying is “stuff will get you there, command will keep you there.” There are a large number of young kids throwing 100 MPH in the minor leagues that cannot make the jump to the next level because they don’t have command of two pitches. But they were signed because they can throw 100 MPH with a wipeout slider, they just can’t control either pitch, let alone command it.
In the end both command and stuff matter, a combination of both is the formula for a long successful big-league career. I have provided two main examples of a pitcher that relies on command and a pitcher that relies on stuff. Greg Maddox and Aroldis Chapman.
As you can see in the GIF’s, Maddox does a phenomenal job hitting all his spots, keeping the ball down, and pitching to quarters of the plate. Chapman is more of a power pitcher that relies on his stuff. He does a great job throwing at a high velocity while mixing in a wipeout slider. He can miss over the plate and still get outs or miss off the plate and get swing and misses.
Ultimately, athletes need to be self-aware and understand where they are at developmentally. If you as an athlete can’t figure out where you stand, have a conversation with your coach, and ask where you’re lacking and what steps you need to take to reach your goals.
Thanks for reading,
From November 1st, 2019 – December 1st, 2019 James is offering free throwing and pitching evaluations. if you’d like to sign up for an evaluation with James click Here and use the code FREE-EVAL to get your initial evaluation for free.