Gabe Kapler's unique hypothesis on throwing Giants batting practice

Kapler explains hypothesis behind throwing batting practice originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

From time to time, Giants manager Gabe Kapler will toe the rubber as the batting practice pitcher prior to one of the team's games.

It's not uncommon for a manager to throw to his hitters, but Kapler has a unique philosophy behind why he tries to as much as possible. In speaking to reporters prior to Sunday's Bay Bridge Series finale against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum, Kapler was asked about his batting practice session with his players prior to Saturday's 7-3 win and went in-depth into why he believes it's mutually beneficial for both he and the hitter.

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"I'll throw batting practice as much as our staff will allow me to and the players can stomach," Kapler told reporters. "I'm not a fun at-bat.

"I cut it and from time to time I yank it down. I throw firm and it's the only way I know how to be accurate and even then I'm not that accurate. But I love it and I would do it every day if they would allow me to do it. But what I will say is that it gives me a really fresh and interesting perspective on the player's swing paths and how disciplined they are in practice and their willingness to take pitches, which they have to when I'm out there because I'm all over the place."

Kapler's approach on the mound certainly is different from that of a normal batting practice pitcher and the change in movement, speed, location, etc. offers hitters a different experience from the typical easy-going session they might be used to.

"What I will say is that sort of batting practice, the challenging, uncomfortable, difficult batting practice is the best kind of batting practice and I would hammer the concept that over a long period of time if we did more batting practice sessions like this, hitters would be better equipped to handle the tough, challenging in-game," Kapler explained. "Not to say there isn't room for fun, feel-good batting practice, which some of our batting practice pitchers throw and I'm not going to lie as a hitter myself I would much rather have that kind of experience. I don't think it makes for the most trained-up hitters."


This approach is not one that the Giants are looking to incorporate on a consistent basis. Simply put, it's just a working theory that Kapler is exploring.

"I'm not right about this necessarily, it's my hypothesis. I think there are plenty of people around the game who think it's important to have hitters go out there and feel good in batting practice and create confidence ... I think it would make for better hitters, more equipped hitters."

A few players, in particular, have fared well at the plate against Kapler, who analyzes closely the swing patterns and tendencies of his hitters.

"I've been throwing to the same group," Kapler added. "LaMonte [Wade Jr.] has done a really nice job and J.D. Davis has been doing a nice job in those batting practice sessions. Austin Wynns has a really nice path to handle those pitches, a lot of foul balls, firm foul balls down the right field line which tells me he's staying on the baseball and letting it travel a little bit."

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Kapler threw to each of those players prior to Saturday's game. Both Wade Jr. and Davis each homered in the game afterward. Is there any correlation? Does the Kapler Method work?

"I would make absolutely nothing of that," Kapler joked.

Even if it is just a pure coincidence, Kapler could be onto something with his approach. Instead of going through the motions, his hitters are forced to adapt to a pitcher (using the term loosely) that offers them a much different repertoire than that of a typical batting practice pitcher.

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