New Tampa Bay Rays infielder Jeff Keppinger subscribes to the brain theory, which is a reason he is one of the hardest guys to strike out in the history of baseball.
“He never wastes an at-bat,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Last season, Keppinger was the National League’s toughest hitter to strike out. He fanned only 24 times in 400 at-bats with the Houston Asros and the San Francisco Giants. The 31-year-old might sound a little baffled at his success, but he attributes it more to his mental approach than his physical skills. He is hitting .351 this spring and has struck out only once.
...Keppinger said athleticism helps, but it’s the mental approach and mind that determines whether ball and bat make contact. And that moment when ball meets bat lasts only 1/1000th of a second, according to Adair.
“If you hit the ball you can’t strike out, right?” Keppinger jokes. “I just try not to do too much. Instead of trying to drive the ball all the time, I try to put it in play. Early in the count when most guys are trying to drive the ball, I try to make contact.
“Certain pitchers that are strikeout pitchers are strikeout pitchers for a reason. You’ve got to start off trying to touch them a little and see what happens from there. It’s an approach I’ve always stuck with.”