Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts says that his first real conversations about taking advantage of hitters' counts started when he was in Class A, playing at Greenville, South Carolina, and working with hitting coach U.L. Washington. Betts asks a lot of questions, and it was Washington who reinforced the reality for him that when a pitcher is behind in the count, the hitter is in control, because the pitcher is cornered. The hitter doesn't have to swing, but the pressure is on the pitcher to throw a strike.
And now, in his third year in the big leagues, Betts has become one of the best hitters in the majors at doing damage in hitters' counts, such as 1-0, 2-0 and 3-1. Through Saturday's games, the top three batters in hitters' counts in MLB, according to Michael Bonzagni of ESPN Stats & Info:
Best OPS in hitters' counts
1. Chris Carter 1.619
2. Mookie Betts 1.594
3. Dexter Fowler 1.532
Red Sox manager John Farrell offered an example of Betts' constant self-evaluation and problem-solving: