Baseball Choke Hitters

Introduction

The term choke hitter in baseball refers to a batter that places a higher-than-usual grip on the bat in an effort to put the ball in play with a short, quick swing.

Choking Up on the Bat

Batters traditionally wrap their hands around the base of the bat, just above the rounded knob at the very bottom. Choke hitters, however, move their hands significantly farther up the bat, approximately halfway between the knob and the start of the barrel (thick, center portion of the bat that tends to result in the furthest hit balls).

Strategy

While some players are simply more comfortable choking up on the bat and practice this strategy regularly, most players employ the technique only when they are faced with two strikes and need to successfully put the ball in play in order to avoid obtaining a third strike and being called out.

The decision to choke up on the bat has everything to do with increasing bat speed. Gripping the bat higher up changes the way in which the weight of the bat is distributed, making the bat feel lighter and allowing hitters to push it through the strike zone (area in which the ball must cross the plate in order to be deemed a strike) rather easily. This is known as a 'defensive' swing, helping hitters to at least make contact with the ball and give themselves a chance of safely reaching first base.

Famous MLB Choke Hitters

The following list includes some of the most prominent and well-known choke hitters participating in Major League Baseball today

  • Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
  • Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
  • Hunter Pence, Texas Rangers
  • Rajai Davis, New York Mets

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