Ted Williams called it The Science of Hitting...
In this 1970 book, the legendary Red Sox player divided the batting area into 77 baseball-sized circles. Then – based on nearly two decades of his own highly successful hitting – he calculated his exact batting average for each circle.
When the pitch was high and inside, Williams would bat about .340. Low and outside, his average would drop to .230.
Williams was at his best when the pitcher put the ball right down the middle. When the pitch was in the heart of this "Happy Zone," Williams hit .400.
Based on these examples, you might think Williams' batting average is somewhere right in the middle between .230 and .400... around .315. That would already be impressive, but Williams did much better...
Williams' career average was .344, and it reached as high as .406 in the 1941 season. That's the last time any Major League Baseball player finished the season above .400.
That's because Williams didn't chase the ball wherever the pitcher threw it. Instead, his lesson is to swing at the pitches in your Happy Zone.
The same idea can make a big difference to your investing success. And judging by the latest financial news, it's especially important right now...
Williams was thorough. As he explained...
The strike zone is approximately seven balls wide. When a batter starts swinging at pitches just two inches out of that zone, he has increased the pitcher's target from 4.2 square feet to about 5.8 square feet – an increase of 37 percent. Allow a pitcher that much of an advantage and you will be a .250 hitter.
Here's Williams' full breakdown of his batting performance, with his own Happy Zone visible in the center...
Investing legend Warren Buffett is a huge fan of The Science of Hitting, and he particularly loves this part of the book.
Of course, to Buffett, it's not about baseball. As he explained in an interview years ago...
In investing, there's no called strikes. People can throw Microsoft at me, any stock, General Motors, and I don't have to swing and nobody's going to call me out on called strikes. I only get a strike called if I swing at a pitch and miss.
So I can wait there and look at thousands of companies day after day. And only when I see something I understand and when I like the price at which it's selling – then if I swing, if I hit it, fine. If I miss it, it's a strike. But it's an enormously advantageous game.
And it's a terrible mistake to think you have to have an opinion on everything.
Like Buffett, we've been thinking like Ted Williams lately...
It's hard to find fat pitches these days. The bear market isn't over. And inflation is still raging.
We just got the Consumer Price Index ("CPI") report for August yesterday. Inflation came in higher than expected. Prices increased 8.3% year over year, not slowing much from last month's reading, even though gas prices have fallen.
Meanwhile, "core" inflation – which strips out volatile food and energy prices – actually accelerated. It rose 6.3% year over year, versus 5.9% in July. And with the Federal Reserve meeting next week, it's looking likely that the central bank will make another 75-basis-point rate hike.
A lot of fear is weighing on the market as a result. In most bear markets or periods of volatility, you can find something that goes up. But for months, that wasn't true for this one... There were no fat pitches over the middle of the plate.
Despite the rally we saw from June into August, fears of a recession have largely dragged down the shares of even great companies with the rest of the market.
In other words, these days, even being right can lose you money.
So remember, as Buffett says, you don't have to make a move at all. There is no penalty for waiting in a market like this.
Wait for the right time – when your odds of success are highest. And when you get a solid opportunity to put money to work... it's time to swing.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig
Editor's note: In this unstable market, Doc is sharing the No. 1 thing he'd advise EVERYONE to do... not only to protect the money you have, but to keep it growing at the same time.
You see, a lot of folks only make two kinds of bets – either an asset goes up, or it goes down. But Doc's strategy is designed to make money no matter what the market is doing... all while taking less risk than investing in stocks outright.
In fact, the last 132 positions he has recommended to readers using it have ALL been closed as winners. And a window of opportunity is opening now that makes this technique even better... Get the full story here.
When investors are scared, like they are today, it's the perfect time to sell them "portfolio insurance." This strategy isn't popular. But it's easy to learn – and it can help you make incredibly consistent income... Find out more here.
Doc recently discussed a technique that most folks get completely wrong. Novice investors use it to make foolish, risky bets. But used correctly, it can actually reduce your risk – giving you more ways to win based on any kind of market activity... Read more here.