For whatever sophistication guess hitting may require, it’s also a touchy subject. Batters hate being called guess hitters, mostly because they think the term implies that they don’t know what they’re doing.
“Pitchers eat up guys who guess on every pitch,” the Red Sox’s Carl Everett says.
Almost all batters claim they never do it, but most then go on to describe a personal approach that requires some degree of “anticipation.” Other popular euphemisms include “having an idea,” “getting my pitch” and “thinking along with the pitcher.”
Giambi takes a particularly analytical approach, using a technique he learned from ex-teammate Mark McGwire to break down each at-bat. The goal is to hit only strikes and to work your way into a hitter’s count. To do it, the hitter must assess the type of pitches a pitcher favors, the part of the plate he likes to work, whether he throws up or down, the score and the count.
“I usually do zones, and most of the time I’ll sit fastball,” says Giambi, reflecting the compound factors he takes into account. “But if there’s a guy I think will throw me a 2-1 changeup, I’ll sit for that. Or maybe (with) a lefthander who throws sliders, I’ll sit slider. I’ll sit those …